The Future Is Now And It’s Exponential


A few years ago, I had a chance to see Salim Ismail give a rock em sock em talk to Leadership Florida.

Ismail, a co-founder of Singularity University, blew the audience away with a presentation on the future.

It was the first time we saw drones delivering packages and he concluded his talk by printing a belt on a 3-D printer.

It was science fiction come to life. We were in awe. And probably a little skeptical too.

Would we see these things on a mass scale in our lifetimes?

Well, a few years later drones are the talk of the media (and one flew over our table during Savor the Avenue this week), 3-D printing has come down in price to the point where China worries about its role as a manufacturing hub and self-driving cars are being talked about by Google and Tesla as being only a few years away.

I had a chance to see Salim Ismail again a few weeks ago at a workshop at Miami Dade College’s Idea Center. We were at an event sponsored by Rokk3r Labs, a magnificent technology accelerator in Miami and the Knight Foundation which is increasingly doing more and more important work in the areas of community building, the arts and technology in our region.

I first met the Rokk3r team about a year ago through a friend in Delray. They have gone from a handful of employees to over 85 in a short period of time. They are taking a leading role in building Miami’s tech scene, so when they invited me to see Ismail, I jumped at the opportunity.

Ismail is an evangelist for what he calls Exponential Organizations or E0s. The philosophy stems from his work at Singularity University, a unique school in Silicon Valley that taps into the latest thinking on technology from the best minds in the world including Tesla founder Elon Musk and the Google founder Larry Page and futurist/technologist Ray Kurzweil who has been called among the smartest men in the world.

Their basic belief is technological change is so rapid these days that you can’t have a fixed curriculum; it must always be evolving to keep pace with the world.

Ismail sees technology “disrupting” just about every industry you can imagine from health care and education to politics and land use.

For example, he opened his presentation with this showstopper: “ I have a three year old son. He will never have a driver’s license.”
What? Why?
Because Ismail believes that within 10 years and maybe sooner, we won’t be driving. Instead, we will use Uber like services to summon driverless cars. That means an end to accidents (the Google car has driven over 1 million miles without a fender bender), no need for auto insurance and an end to traffic.

That will enable cities to reclaim infrastructure and land now used for exclusively for cars. Ismail says it will provide the biggest real estate opportunity of our lifetimes.

Cars that we actually drive will be like horses; used for primarily for recreational purposes.

Of course, all this change and disruption will mean a loss of traditional jobs and industries, with incumbents who don’t adjust being wiped out, just like Blockbuster Video (by Netflix) and Polaroid (by the rise of digital cameras on smartphones).

The regulatory and political framework does not exist to accommodate this rapid change. Ismail says our politics are “light years” behind our technological prowess. (That’s not a revelation.)

Some in the audience of innovators and entrepreneurs were thrilled and others frightened by his vision. But he says the technology is already here and spreading– you guessed it–exponentially.

Organizations in every walk of life will either become E0s or be disrupted.

There’s no turning back, but there is a way to become an Exponential thinker and to turn your business and organization into an EO.

For a glimpse into the near future read Salim’s new book Exponential Organizations and visit his website:




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