Thursday, June 5, 2014

Future Enterprise- The Future of Business Gaming

Future of  Enterprise Gaming

The Director of the Future Enterprise Research Centre- David Hunter Tow, forecasts that by 2035 advances in Gaming technology will accelerate the emergence of an advanced form of Virtual Reality incorporating physics and game theory, integrated with cultural, work, service and education practices.
It will also assist society in coping with the impact of Global Warming and other major potential threats to the planet and at the same time radically reshape the future of the enterprise.

Gaming or game playing has now become a mainstream activity for all demographics- available anywhere, anytime and often for free. From simple combinatorial games such as Candy Crush to social and educational games such as Minecraft and Farmville- the first used as an initiative of the UN Habitat program allowing populations to redesign open recreational spaces around the world, while Farmville allows players to simulate the operations of a farm, allowing them to grow, cultivate and harvest crops.
Most are now available via the Internet, downloaded  to a PC or mobile platform.  
But this is just the beginning of the gaming revolution. With the rapid penetration of the Internet, this form of simulated recreation is now becoming a part of everyday human lives for work or pleasure.

Gaming has been building as an entertainment form for many years- advancing in popularity, sophistication and financial accessability from the earliest forms of arcade video games to basic black-and-white 2D format in the seventies, to largely  war and conflict games in eighties and nineties such as Battlefield 3 and finally evolving to the more complex, life-like 3D games of fantasy, role playing, education, graphic realism, story telling and finally the present mind blowing virtual reality format such as Second Life 2.
Infinite reams have been written in gaming blogs about the pros and cons of the various specialised consoles and game-playing platforms - consoles such as PS4, Xbox, Nintendo’s Wii U and the new Chinese entrants. And also about the rise of the new generation of powerful PCs and laptops with multicore chipsets and GPUs, based increasingly on Linux variants such as SteamOS.

And now with the increasing popularity of the nextgen mobile Phones and Pads such as the android Tegra K1 equipped with advanced  hardware and software set to match the full power of consoles, the choice is expanding exponentially. It is increasingly cross-platform offering a common technology base streamed from the Web.

Today’s massive multiplayer Internet platforms also offer limitless Cloud storage and processing capacity, capable of reaching and interacting with tens of thousands of game players simultaneously-  as demonstrated at the recent Twitch Pokemon gameplay event the beginning of a new form of crowd gaming, just like a world interactive chess or football championship beamed globally.

In the future games will also connect to home video screens and full 3D/HD holographic surround displays and cockpits, controlled by hand gestures, similar to those envisioned in the Minority Report and Star Wars Holodeck systems.

So the world of gaming is now on a trajectory that requires it to offer ever more powerful graphics and special effects when the storyline demands it, creating more and more realism and beyond.

Enter physics.

Models based on the laws of physics can realistically replicate the physical properties of the natural world, using engines capable of generating rich 3D environments; specifically algorithms that mimic real world effects like subtle lighting and shadows, wind and rain, sky and cloud textures, the deformation of materials and the collision of particles, fire and heat as well as the movements of flocks of birds, the subtle synchrony of trees and forests and the flow of rivers.

Beyond that is the physics of human and animal movement- skin texture and facial expressions, including seamless actions and reactions mirroring complex cognitive behavioural and psychological responses in realtime. Also utilising biofeedback- pulse rates, respiration, body temperature etc, allowing the delivery of personal, immersive and customisable feedback experience to the player.

And beyond that is the physics of big data- the staple diet of the enterprise.

As the quality and complexity of online games improves more people will spend more time playing them, until the game becomes  an intrinsic part of their lives. Interactive role playing will also also become key, where the player is part of the storyline and chooses the action pathway; evolving from the early games of Battlefield Galactica to Dungeons and Dragons and SteamPunk.

And why does this interactive trajectory of evolution relate to the enterprise?
Because games are basically interactive events and strategies with goals and processes and achievements interwoven in an ongoing narrative within a digital environment- and so are the operations and outcomes of an enterprise within a realworld social, business and economic environment. And probably the most effective cost and time way of testing the massive multiplicity of  operational combinations and strategic options is to first simulate them digitally by invoking the physics of big data and behavioural science.

And a new set of game experiences shows how this can be most realistically done using virtual reality. Games such as Zelda, 300: Rise of an Empire, Civilisation V, Assassin's Creed, Brave New World, UE4, Ashphalt 8, San Andreas and Anomaly 2 etc are now playing out in true HD virtual reality, using ultra VR surround helmets such as the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus as well as the lure of realistic graphics interfaces, direct brain to computer and brain to brain cognitive interfaces, linked to full holographic immersive sensory surround.
So ultimately we find ourselves in the another space altogether- the realm of pure augmented and virtual reality. And how do we know that these exotic forms of simulated reality will mark the next phase of Gaming for entertainment and the future enterprise? Because they already do.

Virtual reality in entertainment has been around a long time - in sci-fi films such as The Matrix. But from a gaming perspective also in early prototypes such as cockpit arcade games, flight simulators and 3D Second Life, Avatar and World of Warcraft.
Now VR technology has taken a gigantic leap in the form of the Oculus Rift headset and other similar technologies that allow games to be visualised in 3D in synch with head and  body movements linked to a kinetic controller. Soon they will be stanaldone consumer systems not linked to a separate computer.

Although currently still restricted to developers, such helmets and glasses will become a commodity item for players, selling at less than $100 equipped with their own computing power but also linkable to the Cloud for integrating with the realtime IT management of the future enterprise and Web.

At the same time Augmented reality- allowing multiple layers of information and images and visual effects to overlay real world images has become almost commonplace with Google Glass now leading the charge; allowing doctors, engineers and machine operators to work in complex, dangerous and restricted environments and planners, advertisers and marketers to target potential customers on the move with the most appealing consumer product messages.  

In the near future therefore it will therefore become increasingly difficult to separate the ‘virtual’ from the 'real' - integrating game role playing with actions in real life and the real enterprise.

As early as 2030 most of our lives will be immersed in this shared reality- linking game playing with art, entertainment, technology, science, work and daily life routines such as shopping, entertainment, social exchange and travel. Meanwhile the new world of startups is providing more creative and efficient ways of implementing everyday processes in eCommerce, services, the media and entertainment via mobile platforms and will increasingly be implemented via a game-friendly interface.

This will be accelerated by the Internet of Things or intelligent objects. The internet of objects will allow the built environment of human civilisation to be simulated and controlled via sensors and actuators allowing X-reality- the fusion of virtual and real processes, to become the norm.

Alternate realities will then surround us not only visually, but at all sensory levels- tactile, oral, taste and smell. They will also be populated by virtual life forms living within virtual societies, creating virtual communities endowed with their own sets of goals and behaviour patterns. These new realities will be multi- dimensional, operating in realtime as simulations; increasingly inseparable from the real reality.

Artificial life or A-Life is also being created in the computer science laboratories, based on the spontaneous computer generation of emergent behaviour that mimics the dynamics of biological evolution. A-life or virtual life organisms are programmed to carry out the basic evolutionary processes of reproduction, mutation and selection just like biological life. Virtual life avatars will also be realistic, equipped with artificial intelligence and generating their own unique cognitive problem solving capability- supporting both individual human and enterprise needs.

By 2035 the Web will offer an all-immersive 3D environment combining elements ofsocial networks, virtual worlds and geolocation, linked to a dense Google Earth matrix; allowing closer interaction with friends and contacts in their daily lives and distributed workplaces as well as remote wilderness and critical disaster areas. These physical representations or models of our earth and its social environment represent mirror worlds and virtual communities which will also be pervasive within the enterprise.

Virtual communities already exist as part of non-violent creative games such as  The Sims 4 and Farmlife 2 as mentioned, limited only by the imagination of their creators- meshing with the real world of sensory information as its users navigate through their daily simulated lives.

Prototypes of virtual worlds will then no longer be limited to the relatively static domains of 20th century IMax cinemas, Museums and Planetariums- innovative as they may be. They will represent an emerging Metaverse of potential and realised realities- past, present and future. It’s then just a small step to create proto-reality spaces such as the Star Treck Holodeck, not just for entertainment and gaming but for real life enhancement, business simulation and most importantly problem-solving.

By 2035 therefore gaming models will have transformed into an integral part of a new human reality.  

In hindsight it can be seen that virtual, augmented and X- realities are early phases in an ongoing evolutionary transition towards the acceptance of virtual forms as part of everyday human co-existence with their counterparts. In the process we have crossed the threshold into a seamless new dimension, extending human perception and interaction; linking ubiquitous sensory and actuator networks based on low cost wireless and optical technologies to create mixed realities.

Such a dense networked web will help integrate physical reality into virtual computing platforms generating the ability to react to real-world events in autonomous fashion- a vital aspect of the future enterprise where expert decisions must be implemented on the fly. This will create a revolutionary relationship between human society and the Web, with the urgent need to understand the way our behaviour and future protocols will become inevitably shaped by its cyberspace environment.

In other words the world is evolving its own electronic nervous system via a dense mesh of neural-type networks, eventually connecting and encompassing vast numbers of objects- living and non-living, on the planet. It is already beginning to host an immersive 3D sensory environment that combines elements of social and virtual worlds with increasingly complex location mapping applications that allow the monitoring and planning of natural and urban ecosystems- and particularly the capacity to cope with climate change and future economic shock.
This approaching Armageddon will be a critical accelerator in the emergence of serious problem-solving game technology in Government and the enterprise.

The implications and potential of these virtual advances are enormous, pointing the way towards the next momentous shift in the evolution of human life and our world- a fusion of real and virtual realities.

Gaming technology is already becoming mainstream in the world of business, education, science, entertainment and disaster management. This is so-called serious simulation gaming, applied to activities such as conflict resolution and negotiation, high level investment and strategic business decision-making,  healthcare research, education, manufacturing, logistical and maintenance managment, scheduling, administration and workplace operational skills- all played out like an arcade or console game.

The following examples provide some insight into the future application of gaming principles-

War gaming and Disaster Management-

This involves the application of strategic planning methods to evaluate and improve performance in response to scripted and random scenarios; testing the effectiveness of a plan or procedure or its ability to cope with unpredictable events; then mitigating the exposed risks.  
Advanced gaming technologies such as Oculus Rift and intelligent agent software  will be used to achieve immersive virtual reality to improve the flexibility, efficiency and quality of the decision-making involved.

Interactive Entertainment Gaming-

Gaming in the context of live sporting and entertainment events has received a boost recently using a system to provide every fan at a sporting event with a  personalised phone wifi and location connection app- Mobbra; alllowing them to receive content such as background player interviews, game statistics and augmented reality interaction with other spectators.
Crossover between virtual gaming and real life skills is also being extended to selecting gamers as trainee competitive racing drivers at Nissan’s GT academy of Gran Turismo, on the basis of their virtual driving skills.

Science and Problem-solving Gaming

Digital games like World of Warcraft and are compelling examples of how technology can engage thousands of players in learning and solving complex problems - even in making scientific discoveries.  Research in how people learn and interact in online gaming environments can assist in designing online education for science learning- integrating gaming technologies into classrooms and research facilities.

Now this symbiosis has been taken to a new level through- Gaming Crowdsourcing- expanding the support and creativity of relative outsiders in a variety of disciplines, helping to solve complex scientific problems from biology to cosmology, through the power of many minds combining through games interfaces with computers and the power of the Web.

For example Phylo is a game that allows users to contribute to the science of genetics by aligning sequences of dna, rna and proteins to locate similarities and learn how they have evolved over time. Humans are better at solving such visual puzzles than computers and Phylo represents such molecular groups by the alignment of vertical coloured pieces on a screen. There are currently 16,000 registered users working to solve such puzzles as well as a Facebook group to suggest Phylo improvements.

Foldit is a protein folding game, capable of solving puzzles that have challenged professional scientists for years such as the optimum folding patterns of chains of amino acid that make up the building blocks of enzymes and proteins and cracking the code of how an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus is created. It took the gamers only three weeks to create an accurate model of the solution.

Forty thousand registered users of the game Planet Hunters have identified 69 potential new planets from data retrieved from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, to find habitable planets outside earth’s solar system.

In addition a number of phone app games have been developed by physics professionals to view 3D particle collisions on a quest to find the Higgs boson.
Education and Training Gaming

Video games are also having an enormous impact on children and adolescents of school age. But that impact is often seen as disruptive. The aim in academic circles is therefore to  change that perception and harness the creative aspects of gaming to enhance the whole education process

By 2035 the full power of the web will be deployed towards this new learning paradigm, including powerful simulation training environments based on immersive virtual reality.
Augmented and virtual realities will allow procedures and knowledge to be absorbed within 3D virtual worlds and games capable of simulating most services and applications, supporting the full range of training needs from trade apprenticeships to strategic management skills.
The benefits of teaching in such VR environments include the capacity to explore real life situations without risk, as is currently practiced by pilots using flight simulators and the more objective and automatic monitoring and assessment of performance criteria.

The application of virtual worlds to education will become a standard function of school and university teaching and research in the near future. Users are already using such technology to socialise and connect through personalised avatars. These worlds can therefore be quickly adapted to provide learning support and feedback between students, with the added potential to create teaching avatar support.

Business Gaming

Gaming environments can also be adapted to offer support for the solution of complex real world problems in areas such finance, investment, innovation, logistics, human  resources, production, planning and economic analysis.
Social media sites are also creating environments where planners can experiment with new research techniques, by applying intelligent agents to simulate interacting populations.
These are the same applications that will be most beneficial for business.

Game Theory Applications

As gaming becomes more scientific in its quest for greater realism and performance as well as  in its practical application to real world problem-solving and support, there will be an inevitable convergence with the science of Game Theory.

Game Theory is all about making better decisions to  maximise value in games that simulate negotiation of power or assets between individuals or groups based on an understanding of the mathematical rules governing the dynamics of the process. Determining the risks involved- the probabilities of potential success or failure of an action or strategy, is a major part of the process.

Game theory had its genesis well over 50 years ago, providing a mathematical basis for capturing the essence of strategic negotiations between parties or game resolution, applied to model simple zero sum outcomes relating to economic or trade advantage, with an interaction between two parties.

Economists, evolutionary biologists, social scientists and even diplomats have all attempted to harness its magic to underpin their analysis of a wide range of realworld scenarios.
The scope of the theory has widened in recent times to include diplomacy between nation states in international relations, climate change and carbon emission impacts on populations and major corporations competing to gain leverage in the technology, energy and resource sectors.
And by changing the rules of the game and playing more openly and cooperatively it is hoped that better solutions can be devised- for example  for mitigating water, energy and food shortages over the next century.


A number of critical decision points have converged in our civilisation’s evolution, which will demand better methods of global cooperation and resolution.

Global issues such as violent weather patterns, spread of dangerous diseases, risk of terrorism, endemic poverty, refugee relocation, food and water scarcity, equal access to the web and knowledge - all demand international resolution on a fair and equitable basis with the future enterprise playing a central role as the engine of society- not self-absorbed in its own imploding growth and profit bubble.

Political diplomacy alone is not providing the answers. In the 21st century, traditional negotiating methods, leader summits etc, have proved inadequate- not agile enough, uncertain in their resolution, lacking sufficient enforcement- falling far short of the level of sophistication needed to manage the critical stresses and constraints facing our future world.

The future enterprise now has an opportunity to step up and apply new elements of  gaming and game technology to provide the necessary survival capability - but in a more creative and equitable way.

A number of techniques hold out promise for salvation, including the application of algorithmic and artificial intelligence, new network and adaptive systems theory and innovative paradigms. But none holds out greater hope than Game Theory, in particular its latest incarnation- Quantum Game theory.  

As outlined, typical applications of the theory attempt to find an equilibrium solution or optimum zero-sum outcome in these contests, based on the competing strategies of all participants. The parties involved seek to optimise their strategies so as to achieve the most desirable outcomes for themselves.

These strategies are therefore based on norms of rationality and self-interest, but at the same time expose major weaknesses in the method. As has been demonstrated recently with the collapse of standard free market economic theory, humans are rarely rational, and the concept of reaching a stable equilibrium point does not exist in our complicated society, with billions of interacting variables and actors. In addition cooperation between parties often achieves better outcomes than aggressive self-interested competition.

In traditional non-cooperative Game theory, the most famous mathematical scenario is the Nash equilibrium, in which players are assumed to know the strategies of the others and finally have nothing further to gain by changing their own self-serving positions. But in many cases the players might improve their payoffs if they could agree on a more cooperative strategy incorporating more flexible positions.

But classical Game Theory has another big flaw. It is based on participants receiving clear and reliable information of others’ strategic intentions. This also rarely happens in real life, in which cheating or duplicitous tactics in negotiations are often the norm, allowing loopholes for recalcitrant parties or ‘free riders’.

These are players who for whatever reason, are not willing to pull their weight or stand by their commitment to make the sacrifices required for the greater good; but nevertheless will still attempt to share in the overall benefits. This is the elephant in the game room that quantum theory can address.

Benefits for example are often about rights to ‘public goods’ or globally shared rights and resources such as clean air, adequate food and water, human rights, basic health care and education.
In the ‘public goods’ game a number of individuals or governments choose how much to contribute to achieve a desirable public benefit, such as committing to the maintenance of CO2 levels below a dangerous threshold or trade access by developing nations to wealthy markets.

If all the players commit to the common good, then everyone benefits from the outcomes. But if some cheat by not contributing or reneg on previously negotiated commitments, other players may also lose the incentive to be involved and the projected benefit will be lost to all parties.

The quantum version of game theory helps avoid this dilemma. In the quantum game, players are linked by the uniquely quantum phenomenon of Entanglement in which a change in commitment by one party is automatically sensed by all others who can react accordingly nullifying any unfair advantage.

Enterprises and governments are already using quantum entanglement in encryption devices and soon prototype quantum computers. It therefore appears feasible to apply such technology to achieve more rigorous negotiating outcomes. Participants could verify the authenticity of others’ negotiating positions, using  electronic tokens and readout indicators for entangled negotiating positions.

This reduces the opportunity for free loading or fraudulent behaviour by any of the negotiating parties, thereby guaranteeing a fairer outcome. In the high stakes global negotiations rapidly escalating in this century, in which the future of the planet is literally at stake, it is vital that such fail-safe methods are applied.

In all its incarnations therefore- Gaming and Game Theory- one simulating complex interactions in a user friendly environment and the other helping to  ensure equitable outcomes in an age of cooperation, offers the future enterprise a major payoff.

Worth trying? No doubt.

The 21st century is no place for complacency or intransigence- both roads will lead to almost certain annihilation.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Future Enterprise- Future of Startups

The Future of Startups
The Director of the Future Planet Research Centre, David Hunter Tow, predicts that the Startup culture will provide the key to a more productive, peaceful and sustainable planet by offering a new era of creative worTk and training with the potential to reduce poverty and conflict, while focussing on solutions to the looming crisis facing the planet from unstoppable climate change.
The Startup phenomenon can be likened to the first industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries that radically transformed all aspects of world society by improving living standards and providing new ways to release the creative potential of new generations.
A whole new culture is emerging based on providing support for a new breed of Startup entrepreneur through business structures and processes that include-incubators, accelerators,  mentoring and training and equity partners. Startup enterprises now number in the tens of thousands and embrace virtually every significant social, business and industrial process. This nascent culture is rapidly evolving into a global force - gaining structure by coalescing around a number of Hubs, Networks, Ecosystems and Industry and Application Sectors.
Major Hubs are currently based in most of the world's larger cities including- London, Berlin, Istanbul, Helsinki, Tel Aviv, Stockholm, Auckland,  Singapore, Beijing, Bangalore, Sydney, Paris, Sao Paulo, Moscow , Reykjavik, Tallinn, Chicago, Manilla, Milan, New York and Barcelona, as well as the major iconic San Francisco/Silicon Valley nexus. At the same time a number of emergent hubs are gathering momentum in most urban regions of Africa,  Middle East, Asia and South and Central America.
No process or application, no matter how entrenched or fiercely guarded by its traditional custodians will be exempt from the impact of the Startup’s disruptive agenda, with every activity embedded in the operation of modern civilisation likely to be transformed into a more streamlined and productive form- available primarily via inexpensive digital mobile platforms.
This re-engineering is occurring not just in the traditional online service sectors of retail, marketing, advertising, entertainment, travel and media, but increasingly in the professional service areas of knowledge management- education, healthcare, law, insurance, design and finance. Industrial sectors are also flexing up with smarter solutions, supporting engineering, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, construction, energy, transport, distribution, supply and communications, developing as well as developed countries.

Reading the Signals
But this shift to a smarter planet isn’t solely a big enterprise or big city initiative. In the near future every small town and regional community will also spawn its own Start up ecosystem. It will become a way of life offering a new form of work and play, with creativity the main currency.
It is gradually dawning on Government and the commercial and industrial establishment  that this is going to be the future way to create a new generation of viable businesses and economy. In the process it will likely disrupt and displace the existing 20th century paradigm for building a civilisation, taking no prisoners. And if today's enterprises want to survive they will very quickly need to this new world order.
But for the larger enterprises in particular this will be an almost impossible task. Social and technology commentators, big business and Governments until now have largely underestimated the significance of this revolution , seeing it as an add-on phenomenon, complementary but not essential to the functions of the traditional economy.
Big mistake.
Misreading the significance of past economic disruptions such as the explosion of small desktop
computers and the Internet has led to the demise of many seemingly invulnerable organisations. Just ask IBM about its near-death experiences in these areas. The economy and our social fabric is undergoing the next wave in a series of rapid and radical global changes that will dwarf the original industrial and digital revolutions.
The Startup phenomenon is just the latest in a rolling wave of technology driven changes reshaping our relationship with the planet and triggering a whole new way of survival. And most significantly it is achieving this by releasing the full global potential of human creativity.
And the reason for this burgeoning hyper-growth cycle at the start of the 21st century is because it is meshing simultaneously with a number of other revolutions including those of the sciences, arts, knowledge and artificial intelligence, education and work, as well as advanced digital technology and social development.

The New Players
The primary mover and shaker- the heart and soul of all these revolutions is the Internet/Web, with its payload of exponentially increasing information, now available to all via commoditised mobile portals. This represents the next phase in the democratisation of the world’s storehouse of precious knowledge, driven by the imperative to fulfil the potential of the vast under-educated populations of Africa, Asia and the Middle East that have previously missed out on our planet’s bounty. It creates a level data playing field by allowing any citizen with a mobile phone or tablet regardless of location or income, to access a common knowledge universe.
Piggy backing on this pinnacle of this human intellectual achievement is the education sector which is now well on the way to providing the means of delivering this vast treasure trove in easy to absorb bite size chunks via virtually free MOOCs – Massive Online Open Courses, providing equal access to quality education and training at all levels within across the planet.
And right on its heels, leveraging the benefits of this educational bounty is the revolution in work practice- now catalysed by the Startup industry.
The nature of work is now undergoing a dramatic transformation, flexing up to allow the transfer of skills from cheaper as well as high quality expat off shore sources of labour. But Startups have the potential to take this transfer to another level; to redress the global employment problem, eventually providing opportunities for skilled employment at the local community level.
A major Startup Hub- the Founder Institute , with chapters in 55 cities across 30 countries has just declared that over 1000 companies with a total portfolio value of $5billion have  graduated from its program in the last four years.  And the Institute and other countless incubators around the world are not just attracting the typical demographic of twenty to thirty year olds with computer science and software engineering backgrounds, but entrepreneurs of all age groups - middle aged executives, trade and factory workers and housewives- even retirees still chasing their lifetime dreams; all with the vision and wisdom of hindsight that only serious life experience can provide- ready to grasp the opportunities that a younger generation cannot yet conceive of.
Following a hobby or passion has always been an intrinsic part of human nature. It is no different in the digital age. The over fifties, sixties, seventies and even eighties now utilise the web as much or more than the under thirties and in a more active way than passively downloading music or videos. Surveys have shown they are also more astute at utilising social media for real benefit. The software skills required to transform that hobby or creative idea into a digital app is the simplest part of the equation- capable of being easily and inexpensively outsourced to an expert or automated app generator. After all, the technical skills required to design a blog or website used to be challenging for the average citizen. Not anymore. Now anyone can use a free template from Google and be up and running within ten minutes. The same is happening with app technology for example with the MIT app generator.
This is the new world where age is not a barrier but an advantage and where creative content and innovation is king.
The infrastructure required to support this new work/play revolution is also dirt cheap; an old warehouse with some discarded tables and chairs and cheap commodity smart phones and laptops or servers- sufficient even for graphics and game developers. For brain storming or practical sessions with an engineering or financial expert with forty years heavy duty industrial experience - a comfortable coffee bar or a friend’s garage is sufficient.
Cities or precincts that were once derelict and dying such as exist in Detroit, Denver, East Berlin or devastated New Orleans are finding a new lease of life by Startup communities; at the same time solving another endemic problem in society- unemployment and crime. Street kids, high school dropouts and jobless university graduates can be rapidly absorbed into this culture with some initial mentoring and training, offering creative opportunities and refuges no different from the arts and crafts sectors that have adopted similar supportive practices for decades. In fact there’s now a significant overlap and synergy between technology and arts communities, sharing creative spaces, ideas and marketing strategies.   

Downsizing the Enterprise
No wonder established enterprises of all hues- from the technology giants such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Cisco, Verizon, Samsung, Yahoo, Amazon and IBM as well as Government agencies and big business in manufacturing, energy and banking- from NASA to Goldman Sachs, GE, Cisco, Shell, Phillips, Siemens, Panasonic, Ford and Toyota are cashing in on this potential bonanza, supporting and mentoring Startup communities- not so much to make an immediate profit but just to gain a footing in this ultra-competitive new survival game.
Most have either spun off their own internal Startup divisions like IBM or like Google are having a bet each way, aggressively offering to support other promising hubs such as the recently expanded Sydney Incubator tapping into the network of Australian University students.
For those enterprises that don’t or can’t adapt to this new universe, the gig will be up. Just as the empires of ancient times - the Romans, Greeks, Persians and Chinese dynasties or later British, Portuguese, Dutch, French and Spanish colonisers- all thought they were masters of the universe with their new technologies of guns and ships; but eventually overreached and lost the plot, misreading the pro-nationalist signals and  new awareness of a changing world.
Now the new technologies keep exploding relentlessly, with the Cloud, mobile technology, virtual reality, the Internet of intelligent objects, big data, artificial intelligence, robotics, massive bandwidth, software defined networks, more flexible database structures and open source software, setting the pace.
But just over the horizon lurks the next generation of technology powered by – the intelligent Web with human like intelligence, quantum computing and teleportation, direct thought transfer via sensory headbands, the Precog society where prediction is the norm, insect sized drones and giant social observatories such as the original billion dollar EU FuturICT blueprint. Also the emergence of the global human superorganism- the response to increasing globalisation in the face of intractable global problems requiring urgent solutions such as climate change and conflict.
Future Shock has arrived.
And each time the technology explodes it exposes more opportunities as well as existential risks to humanity. The current generation of dominant tech providers- Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Facebook are already looking vulnerable; with Google overreaching just like the ancient empires; and Facebook’s invasion of user privacy- likely to go the same way as Myspace; and Apple- passed its innovative peak, likely to become another producer of commodity devices such as Nokia. Even Microsoft is on the ropes unable to make the paradigm shift needed to survive thenew world order.
Big enterprises have a habit of believing their own rhetoric of infinite growth with a delusional mantra of taking over the world in their market niche. Unfortunately they never studied physics and the limits of computation, information and energy, as the power of entropy inevitably dissembles their structures.
So the traditional notion of an individual's job and work-related role is already outdated. Work value in the future will be measured in terms of contributions to personal and organisational goals, together with social utility, whether for a two person startup or two thousand employee company.
By 2025 most tasks in heavy industry such as mining, construction, manufacturing and transport will be largely automated and robot-assisted. But such projects will also be increasingly managed and resourced on a real-time basis within the Web's global knowledge network- driven by innovative algorithms generated by next-gen apps.

Work and Play
By 2030 organisational boundaries and work practices will be fluid and porous, with individuals moving freely between projects, career paths and virtual organisational structures; adding value and in turn continuously acquiring new skills, linked to ongoing vocational programs.
And Startups will play the leading role in generating this new innovative world of work and play as a hothouse for generating new ideas and skills. Opportunities for Startups will therefore abound. Why? Because every current major provider of products and services whether- big pharma, big banks, big media, big agriculture, big construction, big government or big cities will be desperately in need of a makeover with their clunky and inefficient 20th century legacy systems not cutting it in the 21st roller coaster super competitive world.
Likewise professional services in marketing, healthcare, travel, law, media and finance will be dominated by apps and algorithms generated by small agile second and third generation Startup companies.
A revolution in social development is also changing the way populations are coping with massively expanding populations and dwindling resource options, by returning to smaller self- sufficient and cooperative urban communities linked by high bandwidth communication and transport networks which will facilitate work, food  and water security and learning opportunities in a Startup age.
Although big factories using automated robotic processes for producing industrial components - steel, concrete, glass, cars, turbines, trains and solar panels will still be essential using a mix of advanced technologies such as 3D printing, the streamlined and flexible information services needed to manage, market and optimise such products are more likely to be created by the host of future creative Startups- not the few software goliaths still lingering from of the 20th century.   
This future downsizing of the enterprise aligned with local community structures augers well for the nascent Startup industry with its naturally flatter decentralised architecture, allowing a more flexible capacity to adapt to market signals rather than through rigid centralised control communications. Startups also have the capacity to upscale more flexibly using cloud-based frameworks and by forming cooperative networks rather than expanding centralised silos.
And Startups are not only leveraging new information technologies but also the new sciences of materials, biology, chemistry, physics and energy including- graphene- the next electronics
replacement for silicon; artificial photosynthesis- the future hope for solar energy; optical physics- for invisibility cloaking and super lasers, quantum computing and information teleportation ; synthetic biology- for growing organs and creating organisms to clean up pollution. Even gene sequencing machines, atomic microscopes and analytic laboratory processes are being downsized to desktop level, closing the comparative cost differential between rich and poor countries and large and small enterprises.
And governments are loving it- because Startups are offering a silver bullet to generate prosperity- a low cost simple way to foster new industries and jobs without the burden of expensive infrastructure, offering the next generation entry to a better life.
The fight against big enterprise corruption, bribery, price gouging and market cartels by big enterprise also benefits in a down sized decentralised app society. There have been numerous recent exposures of the underlying level of corruption, bribery, conflict of interest and contempt for customers within the finance and banking industries, as well as major sectors of the mining and construction industries. But if government regulators have failed to prevent the misuse of shareholder and public funds then agile Startup competitors offering cheaper, safer and more convenient services, may do the job for them.
An example is the payments sector. Many smaller agile groups from technology and infrastructure poor African countries such as Kenya have taken the lead in these services of convenience and already provide perfectly viable mobile phone money transfer and business transaction services via text and a pin number, bypassing expensive western banking services.
Both banks and private equity funds are now scrambling to join the Startup race. But the banks are slow to shed their conservative no-risk attitude to lending and the large venture capital funds are being outflanked because of their elitist attitude, refusing to get involved until they are sure the Startup is well on its way to stardom. But in a future high risk roller coaster world there is no such thing as certainty and the professional funds are now at risk of being outflanked by the more nimble networks of crowdfunders and syndicates of wealthy Angel investors, happy to take a gamble, offering both seed capital for visionary ideas and serious followup investment for likely winners; gaining the advantage of an inside rails run to grab the major payoff  prize.

Saving the Planet
But the Startup has a much more important role to play in today’s world.
The latest climate report predicts our climate will be irrevocably changed within thirty years if we don’t change direction – despite all the current advances in renewable energy technology and efficiency savings.
By focussing on innovations in sustainable energy and poverty reduction- rather than trying to emulate another superficial social media or marketing billionaire, today’s Startups can play an essential role in saving the planet and its human cargo, including themselves.
This is an indicator of the potential power of the maturing Startup industry, as a global phenomenon which also might just save the planet through the unleashing of an explosion of innovation and idealism; designing more resilient and sustainable systems, reducing the pressure on the planet’s ecosystems and supporting more cohesive communities; at the same time generating new pathways to peace through cooperative globalisation- offering hope for future generations in a time of existential crisis.
Today's Startup is therefore not only a powerful force for change but also for survival.

A Level Playing Field
They are also beginning to gain the upper hand in the marketplace of ideas. A tipping point is already emerging. There is now more investment capital available than viable projects. No more the demeaning cap in hand pleas by desperate entrepreneurs for funding - prostrating themselves in ridiculous speed
pitching marathons- often losing control over their IP in the process of a desperate race for assistance.
Now there are many more alternative funding options to tap such as crowdfunding and Angel syndicates- more financial supply than startup demand; Universities, such as Stanford, MIT and Sydney as well as tech companies and government agencies are also competing with established VC firms, with many lower-tier VC firms caught in the squeeze, at risk of going to the wall.
So now it’s the VC firms turn to do the pitching and make concessions for a limited supply of viable Startups. Just look at the massive investment flows that are inundating the Startup industry.
How things change.
For the entrepreneurs and founders it means more control, more funding choices, and shorter lead times.
The centre of gravity of the talented app developers and entrepreneurs is also shifting away from the US back to their country of origin. Until recently at all levels of science and technology the US has been living on borrowed overseas intellectual capacity. For the last fifty years it succeeded beyond its wildest expectations in seducing the most talented of the world's minds to assist achieve its scientific and technological dominance, with offers of scholarships, state of the art research facilities, career paths, permanent residency and financial packages an order higher than their own countries could offer. And during the last fifty years hardly a research paper of any significance was published without input from a researcher of European or Asian origin. And the American economy prospered beyond all expectations.
But now the game is over, with governments across the world able to offer their talented graduates and entrepreneurs the necessary home grown incentives and facilities to pursue their careers in their own countries; at the same time contributing to their own national development.
So the Startups of tomorrow will be much more evenly distributed with a more level playing field and the world can look forward to an explosion in creative and innovative potential across all nation states. In tomorrow’s world there will be no alpha nation. Each Startup ecosystem will develop its own expertise in its own way, which it will then share with the world.

Preparing  for the Future
By the mid-forties the earth’s climate will have irredeemably changed to something much more violent and unpredictable if we stay on our current trajectory, even accounting for the growing use of renewable energy sources and greater efficiencies The best we can now hope for is to slow Armageddon down, but we may not be able to reverse it.
Climate change triggered by global warming will dominate every business and social decision within the next decade. Every country, community and company has to make it front and centre in their planning processes- what to produce, how to produce it, where to produce, in order to minimise energy consumption and slow the release of carbon.
The Startup culture will play a pivotal role in this process- the key to the planet’s redemption. But only if its focus shifts to developing sustainable, educational and humanitarian processes and products rather than infantile notions of  becoming the next billion dollar enterprise.
Let’s hope that the current and future generation of  founders, investors and new enterprises don’t lose sight of the real prioriies facing planet Earth and have the wisdom to avoid being dazzled by ephemeral dollar signs.
Otherwise they too will be swept away by its apocalyptic endgame.