By: Reed Morris
Bezos and the Hockey Stick Rule
As most people in the world know, Jeff Bezos is one of the most successful entrepreneurs to have ever existed. Before Bezos was the billionaire we know today, he was working as a Wall Street employee in New York. One day, a document landed on his desk. It talked about how the World Wide Web was growing at 2,300% a year and said, “Anything growing that fast is going to be big. I decided to come up with a business idea where the internet could grow around it.”
This follows along with the idea that if you get into a growing industry early, even if you’re not the most skilled or experienced, you will see success. The basic idea is that if you have a wind at your back instead of against you, you will have greater opportunities and success.
Jeff Bezos has a basic rule called the Hockey Stick Rule (pictured above). The idea is that if there is a trend or industry growing exponentially (like a hockey stick) then it’s worth spending at least 5 hours understanding it. However, no one really wants to spend that much time reading a highschool news article, so instead, I’ll give you about 45-60 seconds per trend, and go through 10 of them.
The Evolution of AI
One of the most highly anticipated and active areas of technology is the evolution of Artificial Intelligence. There are a lot of people who fear AI, however, there are also a lot of people who are extremely excited about it and invest a large amount of resources into it. At the leading edge of this technological wave is (not surprisingly) Google.
Below is a graph showing the growth in number of parameters (the complexity) of different AI’s developed by different companies over the past 3-4 years.
In January, 2018, Ai2’s ELMo was on the cutting edge of AI technology and their brand new system contained 94 million parameters. Just over a year later, OpenAI broke the 1 billion parameter mark in February, 2019, with their GPT2 AI which contained 1.5 billion parameters. Now, Google’s Switch-C is in the lead, containing an astonishing 1.6 trillion parameters.
This field of technology is seeing extreme growth, and is sure to have an extremely large impact on humanity as a whole in the future. This also presents great opportunities for anyone interested in the field of AI or computer sciences in general. Already having a career, or beginning a career, in this field almost ensures growth and success in the future.
The Cost of Genome Sequencing
Another field of science that has made leaps and bounds over the past 20 years is the field of biotechnology. While biotechnology is making great strides in many different sub fields, the field that is showing the most growth and promise in the future is the cost to sequence a human genome.
Below is a graph displaying the cost to sequence a single human genome over the course of the past 20 years.
Moore’s Law: “The principle that the speed and capability of computers can be expected to double every two years, as a result of increases in the number of transistors a microchip can contain.” While the definition of Moore’s law is focused on computer technology, it is applicable to most fields of technological advancements.
In 2001, the cost to sequence a single human genome was around $100,000,000. This extreme cost made it extremely wasteful, inefficient and essentially useless for anyone other than massive scientific institutes. However, unprecedented advancements in this technology has dropped the cost to only around $1,000 dollars per genome. Right now, that is still pretty expensive, however it’s more achievable for a large part of the population. While this can be incredibly helpful getting rid of genetic diseases, and improving quality of life for millions of people, it does have its negatives.
The accessibility of this technology brings into question the legalities around it, as well as a lot of ethical complications. As this technology inevitably grows cheaper, large companies will have easy access to it, giving them the ability to require tests on their employees. This could be used to search for undesirable genes regarding work ethics, health issues, and other factors undetectable from the surface. While this technology is fascinating, and can be used in numerous positive ways, there also has to be a lot of work put into keeping its use in the right hands, and avoiding invasions of privacy by massive employers or governments.
College Tuition: The Disruption of Higher Education
Another worrying trend that presents great opportunities for improvement is the cost of college tuition in relation to wages. The cost of colleges continues to rise yet minimum and average starting wages almost stay stagnant.
The graph below displays the percent change in tuition costs VS wage costs since 1987.
Over the past 35 years, tuition has almost doubled whereas minimum wage has only grown roughly 25%, and starting wages haven’t increased at all. This presents a massive and daunting issue to Gen Z and Generation Alpha. As the next major generations to go through college they will have to deal with this drastic increase in costs. While this presents some serious concerns for the future, it also presents great opportunities for a new era of higher education.
With costs of college tuition exploding, there has never been a better time for the disruption of higher education. There are already many resources in the world that can provide similar knowledge and experience to that of traditional college. This is another field that presents great opportunities for future careers. Anyone with promising ideas regarding improved and cheaper means for higher education have a very long but successful path ahead of them.
Global Surface Temperatures Rise
Another trend that has become a completely unignorable issue, is the rise of global surface temperatures. This is one of the most disputed topics in politics around the world at the moment, when it really shouldn’t be. Looking at basic data, such as the graph below, anyone should be able to realize and acknowledge the absolute severity of the predicament the human race has gotten itself into.
The subject of global warming has been examined in many other news articles and so I don’t feel the need to repeat information available in much more detail through other resources, so I will link some very detailed and reliable resources below.
While global warming is a massive global issue, it presents a lot of opportunities for fixing the way the world gets its energy. The first major step will be trying to shift global economies away from being almost completely oil based, which will be no easy feat. The world needs to drop oil for more renewable resources. One of the most prominent of those being the use of solar energy.
The Affordability of Solar Energy
The cost of solar has plummeted in the last 10 years. This is an extremely good thing as the cheaper it becomes the more people will be willing to accept it. Since 2010, the cost to produce 1 kWh (Kilowatt) has been slashed by a factor of 5 across the board. This growth of solar technology has by far surpassed what experts believed would happen in the early 2010’s.
Below is a graph displaying the cost of solar compared to those estimates.
Solar technology is a very quickly growing industry and will continue to grow into the future. This is another industry where, if you are in this field, or are interested in getting into the field, there will be a lot of opportunities in the future.
Another huge achievement of solar technology is that it is becoming so extremely cheap that estimations show it reaching the lower bounds of fossil fuel costs. Once the cost does dip below that of fossil fuels, the switch to solar will be undeniably more beneficial than sticking with fossil fuels.
Below is a graph showing this data compared to the previous graph.
Solar energy is world changing and is a surefire way to help reduce carbon emissions and global warming. If you are interested in this field of technology, get on board now as it’s only going to grow.
The Decline of America’s Sleep Schedule
On a completely alternate note, something I think we can all relate to, is that Americans are getting less and less sleep every year. Most people are aware of this because most people live it every day. Since 1942, the percentage of Americans that got more than seven hours of sleep has gone from over 80% all the way down to just over 50%.
While this is kind of a worrying statistic, it offers a lot of opportunities for people looking for solutions to this problem. Recently, sleep aid apps and sleep assisting medications have grown exponentially bringing in huge amounts of revenue. While this is not world changing news or even very shocking for that matter, it’s still something that we need to keep in check and find solutions for in the future.
The Cost of Lab Grown Meat
Another big advancement in the sustainability of the human race is the increasing affordability of lab grown meat. The meat industry is a huge contributor to global warming, and other environmental damages. As most people know, there is no way that the entire population of the world will be able to go vegetarian or vegan, so we have to think of other ways to get people meat without actually using large amounts of cattle. One way this can be done is by using lab grown meat.
Below is a graph showing the decrease in cost of making one kilogram of lab grown shrimp.
In 2013, the first lab grown burger was served at a conference in London. The burger cost $330,000 to make. Now, in 2022, it costs around $9 to make the same burger. The speed at which this industry is improving is astonishing. This is another area of science that is inevitably going to be a huge part of everyday life in the future. If you are interested in biotechnology, this field and other biotech fields are bound to grow and be an integral part of humanity’s future.
The Population Cliff
Over the past 70 years or so, the world population has been struggling to stay stable. This is a problem that is very serious and is up to the younger generations to solve, but it also offers some opportunities for global improvements.
Below is a graph that displays the decline in global fertility rates.
This presents serious issues for the future generations. As Gen Xers and Millennials age and slowly slide out of the global workforce, there won’t be enough new Gen Z workers joining the workforce to replenish the system and support the older generations. If a solution to this problem is not found in the next decade or so, there will be serious economic and social consequences.
One solution that has been presented in recent years, that solves 2 problems on a national level, is the loosening and restructuring of the United States immigration system. With a lack of workers, the US economy cannot survive very long. An influx of immigrants that are quickly put into the workforce could present a stable and successful solution to this real and daunting problem.
Drop In Global Absolute Poverty
The world is slowly but surely rising out of poverty. Over the past two and a half decades, the percentage of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has decreased from 36% to just around 12%. During a single generation, more than 1 billion people around the world rose out of poverty.
The graph below shows data from 2017, and projected data for 2040.
There are a lot of opportunities with this trend as well. People rising out of poverty will need housing, work, and other basic necessities and the world needs people who are in the industry of providing those things. As the number of people around the world with disposable income steadily grows, low to medium cost products will become more and more in demand, creating a much larger and booming economy.
This is an all around positive trend that needs to be supported and needs to keep going. If these predictions are accurate, then a much healthier and prosperous world could be within our reach.
Below is a link to a live graph of the same data that better shows the trend throughout history. It’s definitely worth taking a look at.
Live Graph Over History
The Cost of Space Travel
This is the trend that I am most excited about. If you have read any of my other articles you will notice a trend in some of my writing. Space travel is a hugely exciting and important aspect of human exploration. In recent years, with companies like SpaceX and BlueOrigin, the cost to send a kilogram of matter into low earth orbit (LEO) has decreased exponentially.
Below is a graph displaying past data, present data, and future projections.
Space travel is a recently booming industry and has nowhere to go but up (pun very much intended). As prices to launch to space decrease, the commercial and civilian uses of space travel will explode. Universities, and less well known tech companies, will be able to afford launching satellites into orbit. This will help advance space travel and exploration to an extent we have never seen before.
Like many of the other trends, this is one that you want to hop on as soon as possible. Although both rocket science and space exploration have been around for decades, the near future will bring a whole new era of opportunities that was not available before.
There are a lot of things happening in the world that are hard to understand and follow. These are just a very small amount of those things. The list of possible topics that have an equal level of impact on society is too big to go through in one article. I truly hope readers can learn something from this and perhaps get more involved in one of these fields.
I will close out with a challenge of sorts. If you read through the whole article and there was something that really did catch your interest or spark your imagination, I challenge you to take those 5 hours to learn more about whatever topic it was that you were most interested in. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. I hope there was something, even the most minuscule fact, that you found interesting and can take with you into the future.