Foreword – Surviving the Techstorm

FOREWORD

Are we living, today, in a more exciting, dangerous, dismaying, encouraging time than any other in history? We really do not know, but we do know that each new era and technological paradigm shift presents particular challenges and opportunities. It is a constant struggle to keep up with the fast changing times in which we live, and it is only a minor comfort to realize that, during the 19th century, humankind already felt left behind and overwhelmed by information overload, globalization and technological progress. One of the main reasons people react in this way is that technological developments create opportunities and challenges, simultaneously this is questioning and challenging existing perceptions and behaviors.

My grandmother Selma Olsson, circa 1920.

Credit: Private

My grandmother, Selma Olsson, was born in 1900, and gave birth to 17 children between 1920 and 1944. Quite apart from that marvelous achievement, by the time she passed away in 1992, she had also experienced close to a century of amazing technological development. Among other things, she witnessed the mainstream adoption of the telephone and electricity, the arrival of radio and television, new means of transportation with cars and air travel, the conquering of space, as well as the invention of the computer. She lived her whole life in the countryside off the Swedish west coast, and although she was a curious and open minded person, she never really embraced all the new technologies, instead being very content with her way of living. The lives of my children, born at the beginning of the 21st century, could not be more different. We are entering an era in which technology will redefine who we are, and it is no longer just a question of what technology can do for us, but what should we allow technology to do.

For more than 20 years I have worked as an entrepreneur, technology investor and futurist, focusing mostly on investments and business development in emerging markets, web services, nanotechnology, computing, new materials and new media art. Currently, I have approximately 15 direct and indirect technology investments. The constant challenge is to choose a technological path and to time development and/or market introduction. This involves identifying key indicators that can be of help in these decision-making processes; often the companies or projects end up having to make major decisions based on very limited information.

Over the past 10 years, I have spent a significant amount of time and energy trying to gain some deeper understanding of the decisio-making processes under these complicated circumstances. This book is an attempt to create a framework for how we relate to these times of enormous technological turbulence. By combining a historical perspective with technological curiosity and strategic business insight, it is possible to gain a clear view of both the opportunities and challenges coming out of the approaching techstorm.

With fellow board members on a visit to the MC2 clean room at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Credit: M Shafiq Kabir

Enjoy the read, and please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions. E-mail me at write@nicklasbergman.com

Stockholm, November 2015