Predict the Future by Creating It: Dave Evans on the IoT, Interoperability, and the Coming Job Market

Ed Wenck
Aug 21, 2017

Part of the reason that Dave Evans was asked to speak at CEDIA 2017 — beyond his straight-up bona-fides as a Cisco futurist — is his current gig as co-founder of Stringify. Stringify is one of a number of companies offering products that grease the skids for that harmonic convergence of All Connected Things we buzzily call “interoperability.”

Like many of his contemporaries, Evans saw money in the solution: “There's two major challenges with the IoT of today, I think. One is that it's an alphabet soup of acronyms: IP, BLE — people don't care. So, first of all, it's confusing.

“Second, companies are building ecosystems to lock consumers in. So, Apple's doing their own thing, Google's doing their thing, everyone's doing their own thing because they want to own it, and that's a problem.

“It's simply too difficult for the average person to get things to connect to one another; that's kind of where we come in. So we built a platform and a product to let someone with no technical background connect anything to anything regardless of who made the thing, regardless of what it does — it just works. We do all the heavy lifting behind the scenes.”
And here’s when Evans serendipitously utters a CEDIA mantra: “The great thing about that? You can now focus on experiences versus focusing on the technology.

“You just know it's going to work. So if you buy that proximity sensor for your elderly parent who, perhaps, has dementia, and that camera, and that door lock, whatever it is, you just know it's going to work together, and we do all that for you.”

The Downside? Maybe Your Job

But as the IoT becomes ever smarter — and ever more interoperable — there’s another impact that’s afoot, and it’s going to affect everyone, not just CEDIA folks.

“The harsh, cold reality is if we continue on the path that we're on, roughly 40% of U.S. jobs will be eliminated in the next two decades,” says Evans. (Note: Not every expert agrees with this take, as you’ve likely read elsewhere.)

It’s true — trade policy and the lack or presence of regulation takes a back seat to automation. Code is ending. Machines are going to learn on a neural level. They’ll be taught — taught to do much more than build cars or dig coal.

“One in every twenty people is an attorney, for example,” says Evans. (Hold the lawyer jokes, please.) Why might those jobs go away? “Because machines like IBM’s Watson can process case law and documentation at a rate that humans can't even possibly compete with. Watson, for example, can process 65 million pages of content per second.

“That's more content than you'll process in your entire lifetime.”

As the old economy inevitably morphs into something new, Evans sees two possible outcomes.

“Solution number one is, we come up with new types of jobs that are, perhaps, different in nature. Jobs that are more creative in nature; things that machines can't do algorithmically — although that's arguably being challenged, too, if you look at some of the stuff that's going on.”

“Or we create jobs that are completely new: things like space travel, space hospitality, space mining; I mean, things that are maybe off the planet, that seem very sci-fi today. That would create those kinds of jobs. But even having said that, there is no shortage of jobs today. Like, if you look at green energy, solar, wind, and so on; if you look at some of the climate challenges that we've got, food production, building all these vertical farms to feed us, building smart cities — there's no shortage of jobs. It’s that people have to retool and get into new industries.”

With any shift that’s this seismic, though, some will be left behind — maybe permanently. It’s something Evans has thought about quite a bit. “There will be a percentage of people that simply will be unemployed,” he notes, “and that is beholden upon the governments of the world to start thinking about different ways to pay and different economies and different financial structures — and I'm a big believer that in the coming decades, you will give everyone a stipend of some sort because they won't have jobs, that's just the reality of it.”

For those that continue to innovate, though — those at the forefront of ensuring that technology serves mankind and not the other way ‘round — the future could be very bright indeed.

Evans remembers a famous quote that’s been attributed to a number of sources: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

More about Dave Evans:

Dave Evans, Co-Founder and CTO of Stringify and former Chief Futurist for Cisco (where he coined the term “The Internet of Everything”), will share his insights on how these technology advances will open up vast new opportunities for tech integrators. Evans holds numerous patents in the fields of connected cars, networking technologies, virtual people, IoT, and more. You won’t want to miss this engaging and thought-provoking presentation.

San Diego Convention Center, Ballroom 20A
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Free to all CEDIA 2017 attendees

Register for CEDIA 2017 here.



CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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