Is the Tech Bubble Going to Burst?

For the past few months, there has been a debate about whether the tech bubble is about to burst. There are two men that are making strong claims on each side, but we are going to take a deeper look into the situation ourselves as well.

mark-cuban-reveals-what-happens-behind-the-scenes-of-shark-tankMark Cuban, the “Shark” investor on the show Shark Tank and owner of the Dallas Mavericks earned his money during the 2000 tech bubble. His prescience identified the bubble and he sold his company, Broadcast.com for $6 billion to Yahoo. Now, Cuban is claiming it is happening again.

“So why is this bubble far worse than the tech bubble of 2000?  Because the only thing worse than a market with collapsing valuations is a market with no valuations and no liquidity.  If stock in a company is worth what somebody will pay for it, what is the stock of a company worth when there is no place to sell it?”

However, Mark Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, which sold to AOL for more than $4 billion before the tech bubble popped, disagrees. Andreesen even has a 53-page PowerPoint presentation to tell you why the current situation is very different. So whom should we believe? Lets take a look at what is actually happening in Silicon Valley and what the data shows.

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Well, venture capitalists are pouring money into “top performing” startups like Uber (received $8.2 billion) and Snapchat (received $1.2 billion). Over the past year, total capital investments are up by 38%, but the total number of deals is down by 40% – interesting. It looks like venture capitalists are having their cake and eating it too. These venture capitalists are investing say, $100 million in a later stage startup that is valued at $1 billion and receive protections. So, unless the valuation of the company decreases by 80% or more, then they will still get their money back. They can most likely walk away with at least their original investment, but reap huge rewards before that happens.

This data would make it seem like venture capitalists believe that the tech bubble is stretched thin. Fear is starting to take over instead of greed. As we reflect back on our first investment lesson of, “Buy low, sell high” we need to apply it to the current situation and it seems that right now, it is hard to buy low – that is what is important.

The Future of Your Brain

Ray Kurzweil is the director of engineering at Google, focus on AI and language processing. However, he is also a brilliant futurist. He has made more correct predictions about the future than anyonedownload. With 147 documented predications that he has made since the 1990’s, 115 of those predictions have been correct – giving Kurzweil an accuracy of 86%.

So what is his latest prediction? Kurzweil said that, “In the 2030s, we are going to send nano-robots into the brain (via capillaries) that will provide full immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system and will connect our neo-cortex to the cloud. Just like how we can wirelessly expand the power of our smart phones 10,000-fold in the cloud today, we’ll be able to expand our neo-cortex in the cloud.”

That is only 15 years away. Plugging your brain into the internet? Upgrading your intelligence and capacity for memory by orders of magnitude? Let’s take a look at the implications of this possible future.

Human Intimacy

You will truly be able to know what your friend, spouse or child is feeling. There will be no more email, texting or phone calls, you will be sending your thoughts by simply thinking of them.

Know Anything & Everything

You will have access to the world’s information at the moment you want to know something new. You’ll be able to navigate intuitively, speak any language effortlessly, calculate a sales price including tax in seconds, anything.

Scale Up

You will be able to solve a problem as quickly as you can when you are in a bind. The computational power of your brain can be scaled up to 10 or 1,000 times when you demand it.

Virtual World

Your brain will be able to bypass sensory organs like the eyes and ears to the point that our perception of reality will be totally driven by a gaming engine. When you move your limbs, imagine an avatar of yourself moving in the virtual world. This is The Matrix.

Improved Immune System

Nano-robots will communicate and download software when a new pathogen arrives and attack it – cancer, bacteria, viruses, everything. They can also maintain healthy levels of everything you need and repair – even replace damaged organs.

Searchable Memories

You will be able to remember everything that ever happened to you and be able to search it. You will cross-reference with calendars, GPS coordinates, health data, stock market, weather and anything else that is relevant.

While this future seems wonderful, just remember that exponential technologies are deceptive first before they are disruptive.

What the Heck is a Futurist?

Futurist is a term that has been thrown around a lot lately. However, do you actually know what a futurist is? No, they aren’t fortunetellers and they aren’t alchemists either. Futurists are actually a lot like journalists. Rather than reporting on what has already happens, they report on what is only beginning to happen. Then, they analyze that information among various environments. Basically, futurists find what is just on the edge of society – they can identify the trends and technologies that are just on the periphery, but will become the center very soon.

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What about the history of futurism? It all started in the 1940s actually. Ossip Flechtheim, a German professor started to speak and write about the need for “futurology” courses at universities. However, then the two world wars happened and this idea was put off. In the 1960s, a second wave of futurist stepped up to the plate and developed statistical models. They used computers to determine how society would look like in the future. Different from today, futurists at this time were primarily concerned with the far-future ramifications of things such as space travel, the Pill, artificial intelligence, overpopulation and other things of this sort. While people like Arthur Clarke, Theo Gordon and Eric Jantsch imagined what would be possible with science; Daniel Bell, Bertrand de Jouvenel and Yujiro Hayashi wondered what these things would mean for government policy, democracy, journalism, economic welfare and academic independence.

So, as you may have guessed – we are now in the third wave of futurists. The work done in the 1960s has provided a substantial backdrop for what is done today. Taking that and developing it, futurists connect the dots that seem to be unrelated at first. They accurately identify trends and understanding of how they will shape tomorrow. It kind of sounds more like a science experiment – gathering research, then looking for explicit and implicit patterns. Next, futurists will apply those patterns to the consumer to determine whether the consumer and the marketplace is ready for the change. The last step is pressure-testing the trends to see what could possibly occur. That’s right, we’re talking probabilities, not prophecies. In the very end, futurists develop strategies and explain what to do about it. There are specialties as well. Some futurists stick to computing and biotech or future of the cosmos or future of aging.

It definitely sounds a lot more complicated than both you and I probably previously thought, but it does sound like an intriguing career, doesn’t it?

What Industries are Ready for Disruption?

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A successful entrepreneur tackles problems in industries before they are even realized by the consumers. It is the world’s biggest problems that are the biggest business opportunities. All it takes is innovative thought and determination. So entrepreneurs, this is my helpful list for where I think we need your expertise very soon.

Retail Shopping

I think that the entire retail shopping experience is due for a makeover. With total sales in the United States reaching $2.5 trillion and worldwide, $20 trillion – there is opportunity and money. This is how I see the future of retail shopping: We won’t need to drive to a store, ever. I think that physical stores will go away. Amazon has already done this to bookstores – that is just the beginning. I think that body scanners will develop and you will have a data file of your measurements – you can even have your exact measurements the day that you order. Envisioning this with a sort of virtual goggles, we will have our own private stores that consist of every brand, every designer in the world. You can invite your friends in on your shopping experience. You just say what you want and racks of what you want instantly appear. You want to try something on? A virtual avatar of yourself will appear with it on so that you never have to bother getting undressed or re-dressed again. When you have what you want and pay, a local robot manufacturer will deliver your items the same day. Since there are now no retailer stores, the cost at least half of what they do today.

Education

Doesn’t the teacher in front of a classroom seem old and antique to you? Let’s take a further look at the current school system. Primary education systems force kids to memorize information for standardized tests. University costs have skyrocketed – equal to buying a house. Education in general is trying to teach to a median, which leaves half of the students, bored and the other half, lost. If a virtual environment was created that allowed students to see a dinosaur up close, build structures, stand next to Benjamin Franklin as he discovered electricity, don’t you think students could obtain more? There are a handful of start ups that are working on artificial intelligence and virtual reality so that a teacher can deliver a personalized lesson for a student based on their pace and even language. I think that as software becomes more freely available in our world, children in rural Ghana will have access to the same resources as students at MIT or Harvard.

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Consumer Electronics

Nowadays, screens are everywhere. We look at TVs, watches, tablets, and phones all day long. However, displays are fragile and really expensive. The display market, dominated by Apple, LG, Sumsung and Sony is projected togo over $155 billion by 2020. Magic Leap and other companies are starting to produce reality platforms that render screens useless. That’s right, my above ideas on education and retail will become true. Soon, you will put on a pair of fashionable glasses that paint with light an image onto the back of your retina. This concept, mixing reality with computer generated is called Augmented Reality. With this, everything becomes a screen – you can even check your email on the palm of your hand. Imagine what else you could do.

These are just some ideas that I have developed upon seeing different innovations lately. I am, as I’m sure that you are as well, eager to see where not only this new technology takes us, but where other sectors will go.