In the two years since we first launched Tech 2025, back in January 2017, we’ve learned that the primary reason people attend our events on any given topic is because they are curious about the topic or a particular aspect of the topic that we highlight in our event marketing. Many of our attendees aren’t necessarily advanced in (or very knowledgeable about) the technologies we cover. They come to us curious, wanting to see something that sparks their internal, creative compass — even if they have no idea what that “something” might be.
It’s safe to say that we’re all a bit overwhelmed with the number of disruptive emerging technologies emerging and developing simultaneously, each one promising to change global industries and the very nature of our reality in a mere next ten years: AI, machine learning, AR/VR/XR, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, gene-editing biotech, robots, automation — oy! Where to begin?! Imagining the future and your place in it has never been so complicated.
The fact is, we don’t know which technologies will rise and which ones will fall by the wayside in the coming years. VR was hot in 2017, but it has cooled down considerably over the past year. Cryptocurrency was the beast that consumed everything last year but, after a shocking crash in 2018, crypto is about as desirable as a communal disease.
None of this negates the fact that these technologies are in their nascent phases and will, undoubtedly, go through many more ups and downs along the way to innovation nirvana. But this begs the question, how can ordinary people begin to make sense of these complex, integrated technologies and the innovation landscape in a way that will empower them to continue to participate in their development instead of freaking them out? How can people decipher which technologies will impact their career and businesses the most, while being prepared for sudden change? And how can people discern the real opportunities from the fluff?
Knowledge is power, but curiosity is queen. Feeding curiosity by constantly and substantively learning about the systems and ideas that are at the core of emerging technologies, including how global innovation happens, morals and ethics of businesses, corporate management and structure, societies and social science, etc. These technologies are challenging us to redefine who we are and what we want. The obvious question is: who are we and what do we really want?
Don’t let your curiosity go to waste. It’s your most powerful tool. It’s the anchor that will steady you in turbulent times as technologies and big ideas come and go. Learn and relearn what you thought you already knew. Revisit old concepts, learn new ones, and challenge current systems and ways of thinking. You don’t necessarily have to jump into the deep-end of the pool by taking expensive, months-long, courses in AI and machine learning that will require technical expertise you don’t have or necessarily want right now. You can start the new year learning about concepts at the core of emerging technologies or the industries that are adopting them. With this knowledge, regardless of the market volatility, you’ll be able to think through what’s happening now, how the latest developments might impact your business, and what’s coming next.
I’ve gathered a short list of free online courses that helps us to see “the big picture” and focus on the problems emerging technologies are are being created to solve as opposed to the technology itself (and even the problems that are arising as we implement technologies like algorithmic bias). I’ll be adding more to this list in parts 2 and 3 of this post in the coming weeks. Invite people in your network (friends, family, coworkers) to join you on this journey. It’s one well worth taking and a great way to kick off the new year!
Università Bocconi on Coursera Started (started 24th Dec, 2018)
We live in an increasingly interconnected world and the technologies of the near future will make us even more interconnected. As China, the US and other nations race to become leaders in AI, understanding international leadership and organizational behavior during technological transition will become crucial. This course is a great place to start.
Course Description: Leaders in business and non-profit organizations increasingly work across national borders and in multi-cultural environments. You may work regularly with customers or suppliers abroad, or be part of a globally dispersed cross-functional team, or an expatriate manager on an international assignment. You may be a member of a global online community, or a development aid worker collaborating with an international network of partner organizations. In all of these contexts, your effectiveness as a leader depends on how well you understand and are able to manage individual and collective behaviors in an intercultural context. In this course… we’ll explore the theory and practice of international and intercultural leadership and organizational behavior.
Presented by 23andme
The world was horrified by the news that He Jiankui (a Chinese scientist) created the world’s first babies genetically modified with CRISPR (twin girls with a potential third baby on the way) and, if that weren’t enough to sound alarms, his work was (according to fellow scientists), sloppy and full of errors (Is the CRISPR baby controversy the start of a terrifying new chapter in gene editing?). The global science community is still grappling to understand the implications of this shocking story. Here’s how you can begin to understand the technology, why what Jiankui did was considered to be so dangerous, and how you can participate in the discussion – take this course! After you take this course, consider taking this edX course, Analyze Your Genome!
Course Description: This course is a journey into the biology of the human genome and will highlight the scientific, social, and personal perspectives of people living with a variety of traits. You will learn about fundamental principles of inheritance, gene expression, mutation and variation, development of simple and complex biological traits, human ancestry and evolution, and the acquisition of personal genetic information. By the end of this course, you will be able to read and understand genetic information available from personal genetics services such as 23andMe.
Presented by Microsoft (started December 31)
The need for taking this course (and its potential benefits) is pretty self-explanatory. As AI and machine learning technologies take over every part of our society, contentious issues surround ethics and fairness will grow (particularly in corporate and government sectors). Here’s a great introduction to the legal framework around the topic. There are NO prerequisites for this course. Any and everyone can participate.
Course Description: Analytics and AI are powerful tools that have real-word outcomes. Learn how to apply practical, ethical, and legal constructs and scenarios so that you can be an effective analytics professional. Corporations, governments, and individuals have powerful tools in Analytics and AI to create real-world outcomes, for good or for ill. Data professionals today need both the frameworks and the methods in their job to achieve optimal results while being good stewards of their critical role in society today. In this course, you’ll learn to apply ethical and legal frameworks to initiatives in the data profession. You’ll explore practical approaches to data and analytics problems posed by work in Big Data, Data Science, and AI. You’ll also investigate applied data methods for ethical and legal work in Analytics and AI.
The University of Chicago (started December 31)
Without a doubt, 2018 was the year of “Techlash” where big tech companies were challenged on their technologies, ethics and morals, by governments around the world, consumer advocacy groups, and even their own employees. How this all ends is anyone’s guess. We’ll be exploring this topic extensively at Tech 2025 this year. Here’s a great course that will lay a solid foundation for learning about how tiny startups become mega-platforms and achieve global dominance.
Course Description: This seven-week course will explore the relationship between law and technology with a strong focus on the law of the United States with some comparisons to laws around the world, especially in Europe. Tech progress is an important source of economic growth and raises broader questions about the human condition, including how culture evolves and who controls that evolution. Technology also matters in countless other ways as it often establishes the framework in which governments interact with their citizens, both in allowing speech and blocking it and in establishing exactly what the boundaries are between private life and the government. And technology itself is powerfully shaped by the laws that apply in areas as diverse as copyright, antitrust, patents, privacy, speech law and the regulation of networks. This course will cover 7 topics: Microsoft: The Desktop vs. The Internet, Google Emerges (and the World Responds), Smartphones, Nondiscrimination and Network Neutrality, The Day the Music Died?, Video: Listening and Watching, The Mediated Book.
KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm
Elon Musk is promising to get us to Mars by 2025. Whether he will or won’t, the fact is, we’re headed to Mars one way or another regardless of who gets us there first (and it will be sooner than later). The privatization of space travel is creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to participate in space travel like never before. And companies like Space X and Virgin Galactic are accepting space tourists for the lucky few who can afford it. This course offers a great overview of the history of human space flight. If you want to be inspired by space tech, this course will give you that spark!
Course Description: Learn about human space travel from an experienced ESA astronaut who flew on Space Shuttle Discovery to conduct research on the International Space Station. This applied science course introduces aspects of human spaceflight, including the various environmental, medical and technical challenges of space travel. Join Christer Fuglesang, Director of KTH Space Center, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, during this 5-week course in which Christer makes human spaceflight both accessible and engaging. Christer often draws on his own experiences as an astronaut which include two Space Shuttle missions and five spacewalks.
RWTH Aachen University (archived course)
Course Description: Learn to take on competition by creating successful and innovative ideas for your business through a thorough understanding of your customers’ needs. Addressing the needs of your customers is the core factor of managing innovation successfully. Exactly this is the task of the first stages of an innovation project. In this course, you will learn about key concepts and methods of generating customer-centric business ideas and innovative concepts. After completing this course you will improve your career qualifications as Product Manager, Engineer, Process Manager and Marketing Manager. Learners from the industries of Product Management, Engineering, Innovation Management and Customer Relationship Management already completed the course as well as Consultants and Entrepreneurs.
University of Michigan (2-4 hours to complete)
We did an event on universal basic income in 2017, Silicon Valley, Universal Basic Income and the Future of Work, to explore how Silicon Valley was embracing basic income as a possible (if not temporary or limited) solution to the economic hardship that will likely arise from technological disruption like automation. Back then, hopes were high. Like so many other stories in emerging tech last year, this one came crashing back down to reality as cities around the world that had initially launched Basic Income pilot programs to test its potential, pulled their test program abruptly and early including Ontario and Finland. In an article early last year, the publication Motherboard, cried foul: Basic Income Is Being Set Up to Fail. But just because early trials are failing (for whatever reason) that doesn’t mean Basic Income is dead. Quite the contrary, like the emerging technologies experiencing a cold 2019, UBI is likely going through growth pains as societies globally try to figure out what economic model will work. This short course will offer a great overview and food for thought!
Course Description: The United States social safety net is a complex system with many programs and often difficult eligibility requirements. Many of these programs only deliver in-kind aid (not cash) to people living in poverty, a lot of whom can fall through the cracks and can’t make ends meet. Basic income, the idea of providing people with a minimal level of cash support on a consistent basis, remains a point of debate in the United States and beyond. In this Teach-Out, you will join leading experts to explore the emerging idea of basic income and other associated social safety net programs.
University of Lausanne (Switzerland)
Course Description: This course teaches how narrow frames and strong contexts can push good people towards unethical decisions and how they can protect themselves and their organization against ethical blindness. The goal of this course is to empower the participants to analyze the risks of unethical or illegal behavior that might be triggered by powerful contexts. It draws from various disciplines such as management, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and literature, in order to learn what these disciplines contribute to a better understanding of unethical behavior. The course also analyzes some of the most prominent organizational scandals of the recent decades through the lenses of these disciplines.
So you want to change the world? This course is cut and dry — and plenty thought-provoking. Nothing is every as easy as it seems, least of all, changing the world. This is a good place to start.
Course Description: How can we use the things we share in common to address some of the most challenging problems facing the world? This course examines issues concerning poverty, the environment, technology, health care, gender, education and activism to help us understand better how to initiate positive change.
The University of New South Whales (starts January 2)
The future will be defined by both technologists and storytellers (among others, of course). This course will provide an overview of storytelling across platforms using various technologies – including the challenges of working with new technologies (AR/VR/XR) to tell stories created for traditional media.
Transmedia storytelling is the practice of designing, sharing, and participating in a cohesive story experience across multiple traditional and digital delivery platforms – for entertainment, advertising and marketing, or social change. How do the professionals develop such expansive narratives? How do they ensure that each element stays true to the original story? How do they innovatively use different technologies to share the stories, grow audiences and create an active and involved community of fans? More and more, we are also engaging with elements or franchises of larger and more complex stories across a much more diverse range of platforms like interactive web experiences, social media communities, mobile devices, theme parks, and even augmented and virtual reality. A major challenge that current and future storytellers face is being able to engage different audiences in a story that is seamlessly told across all of these different platforms.
Università Bocconi (started December 24)
Nations across the world are preparing to upgrade their old, dilapidated infrastructures to Smart Cities of the future and, as a result, will not only be preparing for emerging technologies and the challenges they will bring, but they are also looking for ways to fund major infrastructure upgrades. This course is a great primer for understanding where the money will come from to build Smart Cities.
Course Description: Learn how debt and equity can be used to finance infrastructure investments and how investors approach infrastructure investments! According to the OECD, the global infrastructure investment requirement by 2030 for transport, electricity generation, transmission & distribution, and water & telecommunications totals to 71 trillion dollars. This figure represents about 3.5% of the annual World GDP from 2007 to 2030. Traditionally investments in infrastructure were financed using public sources. However, severe budget constraints and inefficient management of infrastructure by public entities have led to an increased involvement of private investors in the business. The course focuses on how private investors approach infrastructure projects from the standpoint of equity, debt, and hybrid instruments.
Copenhagen Business School (starts January 21)
Technologies like AI, machine learning and VR/AR have already begun to dramatically change how consumers shop and how brands deliver experiences to them. One of the biggest problems innovation and marketing teams face is understanding which technologies to implement to engage consumers, how to do it smartly, and what to with the data. This course will help anyone looking to answer these questions understand consumer behavior according to new neuroscience research.
Course Description: How do we make decisions as consumers? What do we pay attention to, and how do our initial responses predict our final choices? To what extent are these processes unconscious and cannot be reflected in overt reports? This course will provide you with an introduction to some of the most basic methods in the emerging fields of consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing. You will learn about the methods employed and what they mean. You will learn about the basic brain mechanisms in consumer choice, and how to stay updated on these topics. The course will give an overview of the current and future uses of neuroscience in business.
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (starts January 2)
Our event last year (The Last Mile: an $80 Billion Global Logistics Problem and the Blockchain Solution) which reviewed how startup Fr8 is using blockchain technology to change last-mile logistics and supply chain management for the better, offered great insights into this topic. With e-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart in fierce competition to define and dominate supply chains in the future, and technologies like automation, autonomous vehicles and blockchain set to disrupt our entire global supply chain, this course is an ideal foundation for learning about supply chain management before delving into learning about how technology will disrupt them.
Course Description: As a human being, we all consume products and/or services all the time. This morning you got up and ate your breakfast, e.g., eggs, milk, bread, fresh fruits, and the like. After the breakfast, you drove your car to work or school. At your office, you used your computer, perhaps equipped with 27” LCD monitor. During your break, you drank a cup of coffee and played with your iPhone. So on and so forth. You probably take it for granted that you can enjoy all of these products. But if you take a closer look at how each of these products can be made and eventually delivered to you, you will realize that each one of these is no short of miracle. In this course, we want to understand fundamental principles of value creation for the consumers or the market. We try to answer questions like how the product or service is made, how the value-creating activities or functions are coordinated, who should play what leadership roles in realizing all these, and so on. As our course title hints, we approach all of these issues from a learning perspective, which is dynamic in nature and emphasizes long-term capability building rather than short-term symptomatic problem solving.
Delft University of Technology
Electric cars aren’t just the future, they’re the present! If you’ve been wondering what all of the Tesla/electric battery hoopla is about, take this 4-week course. It offers a thorough overview of electric car space from the policy perspective (something that doesn’t get nearly as much coverage in the media and Elon Musk’s tweets).
Course Description: Learn about the role of public policy in steering technological innovation and infrastructural change toward zero-emission mobility. Electric cars are more than a novel means of mobility. They have been recognized as an essential building block of the energy transition. Fulfilling their promise will imply a significant change in the technical, digital and social dimensions of transport and energy infrastructure. As the massive adoption of electric mobility will deeply change our society and our individual routines, government intervention is called for. If you are interested in learning about the roles of government in shaping the transition towards electric mobility and renewable energy systems, then this is the course for you. In this course, you will explore the promise of electric mobility from different public policy perspectives and different levels of government, and learn how they interact. After completing this course, you will be able to assess a policy plan to support the introduction of electric cars and make a motivated choice between alternative policy instruments. In the final week, the course will be concluded by connecting the different track perspectives.
University of London International Programmes (starts January 21)
With the launch of our Mission AI program last Summer, Tech 2025 has made a firm commitment to helping our members to learn about (and participate in) AI research. We believe strongly that, while not everyone will necessary want to (or needs to) learn how to develop AI and machine learning technologies to be part of developing it, everyone benefits (including the entire AI ecosystem) if the public is as least reasonably fluent in understanding how research is done, funded, and used. We’ve already hosted several events on this topic including, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence Research and Preparing for Battle Against Malicious Artificial Intelligence. Both events were packed with people eager to learn the latest research. This course is a great introduction to research methods and the (academic) research ecosystem.
Course Description: The course will appeal to those of you who require an understanding of research approaches and skills, and importantly an ability to deploy them in your studies or in your professional lives. In particular, this course will aid those of you who have to conduct research as part of your postgraduate studies but do not perhaps have access to research methods courses, or for those of you who feel you would like additional support for self-improvement. No prior knowledge or experience in research is required to take this course and as such, the course is for everyone. In 2015, the course was nominated for the prestigious Guardian University Award for its innovative approach to online learning.
Purdue University (starts January 7)
With Silicon Valley and tech companies facing increasing backlash for their lack of diversity and inclusion policies, and the demand for companies in general to be more inclusive and culturally sensitive, taking a course like this seems like a good bet regardless of your background. This is a discussion that will undoubtedly stay at the forefront of the tech and business industry in the coming years as they grapple with developing technologies that are inclusive and representative of the true fabric of society.
Course Description: Learn how to create a more inclusive world. Many things contribute to an individual’s identity, including race, ethnicity, gender, age, appearance, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, education, and political beliefs. These things, and more, are what make each of us different. So how can we learn to embrace these differences, and celebrate them? Or to put it in a different way – how can we explore and welcome diversity? This course will help you develop your knowledge and understanding of diversity, equipping you to create more inclusive and open environments that are welcome to all. Topics covered include: Phases of diversity dexterity, Attitudes, skills, and knowledge supporting diversity, Unconscious biases, Ethnocentric and ethno-relative mindsets, Elements of diversity and inclusion.