Trends and Technologies Impacting Cities, Business and People

Bronwyn Williams is a partner at Flux Trends. She's a Futurist, Economist and Business Trends Analyst. We explore her definition of a Smart City, trends in Intelligent Cities, Smart Cities for Real People, the role of Blockchain in Africa's future, changing the current education system, how she would implement Radical Economic Transformation and what cities and social structures will look like in 20 years

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Key Takeaways

Introduction

  • Bronwyn expands on her background and what led her to Flux Trends and working with Dion Chang.
  • At Flux Trends they unpack trends as business strategies to help corporate and business clients understand the direction the world is going in and how they can adapt.

Her definition of a Smart City

  • She prefers to talk about intelligent cities where you start using technology to enhance the human experience rather than just to make governance more efficient.
  • The last thing we want is to automate bad governance, inefficiencies, or unfairness which seems to be the direction of the so-called ‘smart cities’ of today.
  • Bronwyn explains a real-world example from the United Kingdom.

Trends in Intelligent Cities

  • On the dark side of things, smart city technologies seem to be adopted by governments for surveillance or event predictive policing, etc.
  • Using algorithms and big data is fine if you are using it for a group but when used on individuals there are issues.
  • She explains a Chinese example of smart Artificial Intelligence (AI) being quite dumb, which is kind of hilarious.

Smart Cities for Real People

  • AI is only as intelligent as the human who programs it.
  • From dystopia to utopia.
  • Humans are irrational. We make bad choices but that is good for business.
  • Smart cities need to centre around warm bodies.
  • Planned environments need to leave a little room for chaos.
  • Bronwyn gives an overview of her talk ‘Smart Cities for Real People’, using great examples.
  • Sense of serendipity and chaos adds value to human life.
  • For the first time in history we have all the tools to have no government, she explains these tools and possible scenarios.

The role of Blockchain in Africa's future

  • Blockchain is just a ledger, just like an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Bronwyn explains blockchain vs Bitcoin.
  • Only a few things need to be decentralized, not everything.
  • On a national level, you don’t want the entire world to have access to your entire blockchain.
  • Blockchain is only as strong as garbage in garbage out, giving it a single point of failure.
  • Ghana put their property registers onto a blockchain, but someone had to input that initial data in there, giving motive for corruption!
  • We don’t want to start automating corruption and inefficiencies.
  • The benefit lies not in technology but in the conversations around decentralization and transparency as that has huge potential to fix a lot of our problems.
  • More stakeholders being able to access information at every point of failure and having information that is more distributed is more efficient and flows more fairly.
  • Bronwyn talks more about Bitcoin, Pascal’s wager, monetary systems, decentralization, human behavior & psychology, real needs on the ground, and the need for holistic views.

Legislation she would change

  • Ban leaf-blowers, a joke.
  • Completely destroy the current education system! Bronwyn explains why she will do that.
  • Compulsory schooling makes no sense.
  • We should teach our children to ask: How will I bring value to society?

How she would implement Radical Economic Transformation

  • Get rid of the state monopoly on money, power, and finance, she explains more.
  • She tends towards being an anarchist.
  • No amount of money printing and supply changes the amount of real value in the world which comes from scare resources like food, land and mostly your own time.

What cities and social structures will look like in 20 years?

  • Many potential answers but the Distributed City is a possibility.
  • She talks about Hong Kong as an example.
  • A City defined by mindset and ideology rather than geography.
  • The new cities will look less like cities and feel more in touch with humanity and bring nature into the city. She uses London as an example with agriculture.

About Bronwyn Williams
Bronwyn Williams is a Futurist, Economist, and Business Trends Analyst.

Bronwyn has over a decade’s experience in strategic management, trend research, and foresight; consulting to clients in the public and private sectors across the African continent. Her educational credentials include tertiary qualifications in Marketing Management (University of Johannesburg), Economics (University of London), Foresight (University of Manchester), and Future Studies (University of Stellenbosch). She is currently completing a Masters in Applied Economics from the University of Bath.

Today, as a partner at Flux Trends, Bronwyn’s research focuses on how macro socio-economic trends and emerging technologies will impact businesses, industries, and nations in the near and long term future. Part economist, part strategist, Bronwyn’s particular areas of expertise include fintech trends, alternative economic models, and sustainable future design.

Bronwyn’s clients include Top 40 JSE listed companies, The South African Reserve Bank, African government departments, and global business leaders. She also guest lectures for leading business schools, such as Duke, GIBS, UCT, and the University of Johannesburg. Bronwyn is also a published writer and a well-known media commentator on future trends and economic trajectories for network channels including CNBC Africa and ENCA News.

Below is a list of presentations that Bronwyn has given before:

Life after COVID-19
Virtual & Unreal Estate: The future of finding and creating value
Grand challenges and How to solve them
The Fragmented Future of Finance
Transhumanism: How to train your cyborg to join your workforce (and visa versa)
The BlockChain Effect
Second Wave of Disruption – Middle Management – Junior Employee Tier
Now Hiring, But Differently – The Game of Change: New industries and the new skills required to drive these industries.

Visit: https://www.fluxtrends.com/about-bronwyn-williams/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bronwynwilliams/

About Flux Trends
Flux Trends helps to distill the barrage of information that is hurled at us in the 21st century. We identify and analyze macro trends (everything from politics, religion, youth culture, media, entertainment and technology) that affect social dynamics and therefore our business interactions, and then package this information into digestible chunks, allowing small or corporate businesses to re-assess the business and social landscape and formulate new, forward-thinking, marketing or business strategies.

Visit: https://www.fluxtrends.com/

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