New book ‘Future Hackers’ coming – But why?
a) Please write an elevator pitch for your book (in no more than 20 words):
Future Hackers is the indispensable guide for curious business leaders to think differently and make informed future-ready choices in a changing world.
b) Please summarise your book as if you are writing the cover blurb (in no more than 150 words):
From the moment James Watt took energy from coal and powered up the industrial revolution, humans have experienced exponentially greater GDP, life expectancy, democratic participation, access to resources, and wealth than in the preceding thousand years.
In the next two decades, we’ll see profound technological, social, and cultural developments that will drive the same level of change as we have experienced the past 200 years, but it will be even faster and look and feel completely different.
Future Hackers is an indispensable guide to these changes, which not only include macro trends across work, leadership, technology, and our emerging post-pandemic lives but also how these trends will combine to create entirely new ways of living. Armed with insights into these seismic changes, Futurist Matt O’Neill will provide you with some answers which will help you navigate this changing world with confidence; and more importantly, present the right questions to ask to find your own way to thrive towards 2030 and beyond.
c) What prompted you to write the book?
Having put a flag in the sand with my first book ‘The Future is Now’ in 2017, I felt it was time to build on the learning and experience I have accrued over the five years since.
The science fiction writer, William Gibson, wrote ‘The future is here. It’s just unevenly distributed’. He was right. We don’t need to predict the future, because it’s happening all around us. It’s just not necessarily in everyone’s hands – and that means many of us, including business leaders, are operating in a future-facing vacuum. Technological progress is moving so quickly, it’s just not necessarily fully developed or ubiquitous. Take Elon Musk’s ‘Neuralink’ brain-machine interface business as a case in point. It’s happening, it’s just not ready for use yet. And there’s no reason why ordinary people should be denied the opportunity to understand the concepts.
That’s what I’ve spent the past five years doing – looking outward at what’s happening already, then extrapolating from current developments to look at where they might fuse with others to make an exciting difference to our lives. Take Virtual Reality for example. While the technology is slowly moving into the mainstream, it’s still broadly sound and vision. It’s logical that developments in haptics (touch/feel) and e.g. weather simulation technologies will combine to create a heightened sense of reality for users.
I want to write a book that helps readers to arrive at their own realisations. I want to achieve this by showing them where changes are coming from, then inviting them to ask their own questions to reach useful conclusions on how those changes will impact them, their children, and the employees they are responsible for. Additionally, I want to create a book that is intellectually honest. It is not about selling certainty in an uncertain world, but signposting and raising questions for readers to make their own judgments.
d) Please include as a separate attachment a synopsis of the book (max. 500 words), a chapter breakdown and a sample chapter.
Future Hackers is the culmination of 7 years working as a professional futurist for corporate clients. Today's business leaders are time poor and need relevant, actionable insight quickly and in an easy-to-digest format. My previous career as a professional marketer taught me how to communicate complex ideas effectively and creatively.
My motivation for “Future Hackers” stems from the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic. With lockdowns being enforced quickly around the world, I saw how uncertainty rose in my client base – and how differently leaders approached this new and unpredictable world. It reinforced my core Futures principle: 'We can never be future-proof, but we can be future-ready.'
The pandemic accelerated some trends – home/hybrid working and rapid digital transformation, for example. It has brought about major shifts in supply chain management (for resilience) and perhaps most importantly, the need for a shift in mindset to deal with a new post-pandemic reality. My ongoing research enables me to signal where curious leaders should invest their time and effort moving forward. For sure, continual learning is at the heart of technology-enabled change and I will show readers how and why this matters.
Future Hackers covers five inter-related areas:
THE FUTURE OF WORK
What are the technologies set to change the future workplace? We explore how existing jobs will be destroyed - and discover new professions that will be created. We will see why this change Is inevitable and – importantly – assess how leaders and employees can prepare themselves for an exciting and very different future of work.
THE BIG 21ST CENTURY TRENDS
Here, we explore the great themes which will characterise our lives in decades to come. This means both emerging technologies (like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Biotechnology), and the challenges facing our species (like climate change and the pandemic). What should you be aware of, and how can we live harmoniously and productively in our dramatically changing world?
MACHINES VS. HUMANS
We hear much about how machines are taking over the world. But is that really the case? Multi-purpose robotics are still expensive and forecasts for growth are relatively low in the near term. However, algorithms and AI more generally continue to make significant advances. In machines vs. humans, we’ll explore where machines could supplant us, but more optimistically, how we can exist productively and thrive alongside them.
The future is less predictable than ever because the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up unanticipated challenges in the connected worlds of health, politics, economics, and consumer expectations. Nevertheless, with the right mindset and approach, uncertainty means opportunity, and we explore what this looks like and where it comes from.
FUTURE OF LEADERSHIP
Leaders of the future will need new skills and characteristics to propel them forward. That's because organisations will look entirely different. We explore new forms of organisational structure and the different human skills we will need to develop as leaders and foster in others in order to truly succeed, And we’ll see why brute force analysis should be left to the machines, while people do more useful, meaningful and satisfying work.
Each topic will end with a short series of questions for the reader to consider for themselves. My ambition is for readers to arrive at their own realisations to bring about positive change for themselves, their organisations and even their children.
CHAPTER EXCLUDED FOR BLOG POST.
e) What makes your book special? eg. original research, previously unpublished material, etc.
These words are from a representative of Randstad Risemart, a global client. They reflect my style well:
‘Matt has a wonderful ability to deeply connect and understand and communicate what is most relevant to a given audience. He has mastery of cognitive synthesis; the ability to take information from a very wide variety of sources together with his own research and help people make sense of these new insights and relay new ideas and perspectives. I have personally learned a lot from Matt and would highly recommend partnering with him.’
The book will draw from other books, internet research, subject specialist interviews, and occasional direct written contributions from those specialists. Many of the concepts and ideas will draw from my own original insights developed for client projects in recent years, and it will feature original thinking to bring concepts to life in an engaging, constructive, and actionable way.
It will also include links to videos and an abundance of original illustrations to bring ideas to life.
f) Are there any anniversaries or significant dates that could tie in with publication of your book?
200th Anniversary of Charles Babbage proposing the ‘Difference Engine’ – the first mechanical calculator. Seen by many as a forerunner to the electronic computer – which continues to revolutionise the way humanity lives.