I was invited back to Singapore to keynote the International Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning Symposium with hundreds of the world’s best futurists, planners, forecasters, government policy-makers, entrepreneurs, business executives, and other interesting people. Singapore is always a luxury to visit, of course, but the focus was on where does the world go from here? There was a palpable sense that everything has been changed with the 2008 near-collapse of Wall Street.
Few had good answers, although my TechCast data made a convincing case that the Technology Revolution is driving a boom in green technologies, IT, e-commerce, and other emerging fields that are likely to form an economic revival about 1015. I also outlined a global boom based on high-tech and sustainability about 2020. See www.TechCast.org for more.
I then spoke at Tamkang University and the National Chengchi University in Taiwan. These were lively visits, and faculty and students not only accepted the impacts of the Technology Revolution but are even excited by the prospect. Throughout SE Asia, one gets the impression that these cultures are better equipped for the uncertainty and complexity of the high-tech landscape we are entering. These societies have their problems, of course, but they do not have endless political stalemates over liberals vs. conservatives, big-government vs. free markets, environmental safety, energy policy, gun control, abortion, immigration, and the hundreds of contentious issues Americans fight over. These societies seem to work.
Seoul was the highlight of this trip. My lovely wife was with me, and we had a marvelous time enjoying the bright lights of modern Seoul, great Korean food, and a strong, vibrant culture. I found myself explaining my experience by noting that Koreans seem to be the “Germans” of Asia – technically superior, hard working, ambitious, etc. But maybe it’s not such a good analogy to make.
I greatly enjoyed speaking to large groups of 100-300 CEOs, politicians, academics, consultants, media people, and other influential Korean professionals. These are very competent people, steering their society through difficult times in a very adroit and collaborative spirit. I especially like the small courtesies and rituals that govern Asian culture – bowing slightly when meeting, placing palms together in a prayerful sign of peace, removing shoes indoors, and always supping tea. I am fortunate to know a few words of Korean, and it is a delight to share their culture briefly when saying “hello” and “thank you” in my pretty good accent of these admittedly simple phrases.
The highlight of this trip came unexpectedly when I was asked to speak with a large group of high school students in Seoul. I gave them a peppy version of my talk, pointing out how the Technology Revolution will change the world, but also noting that this growth process presents us with a massive Global MegaCrisis. They were excited, but the shock came after my closing comments.
I reminded them they this meant they will have adventurous lives that are likely to include more than 100 years spanning several careers in a high-tech world — but that they would also have to solve the MegaCrisis !!! They erupted with pure joy, and even glee. The Global MegaCrisis didn’t faze them. It was challenging.
Then all these lovely, bright children swarmed me for photos, autographs, and endless questions. I have had wonderful experiences when connecting to audiences, but this was a new high. It was like being a rock star. More importantly, it gave me a burst of hope in the prospects for this generation.