The future is uncertain, but not wholly unpredictable.

Many of our most brilliant minds dedicate their lives to deciphering its complexities and erraticity. Investors make outlook calculations to unearth opportunities as yet unseen.

The Future Investment Initiative provides a platform for tomorrow’s great thinkers and the world’s best future forecasters, and there was no shortage of predictions at the first FII last year.

Here we have a look at some notable projections and expectations from leading speakers, exploring just how close they are now to becoming a reality.

“People will have to adapt fast through relearning and unlearning... this is the critical skill that will be at the center of the next industrial revolution.”

     - Sandeep Aneja, Managing Partner, Kaizen PE, Singapore

In terms of education, unlearning becomes more important as learning is rendered obsolete in jobs that have not even been created. The top jobs today didn’t exist 10 years ago, and this will more than likely be true in another decade.

“Renewable energy is part of the right mix and right direction for the Kingdom going forward.”

     - Manar Al Moneef, CEO, MENAT, Renewable Energy, GE

Saudi Arabia’s shift in strategy towards renewables is well underway. For example, the Public Investment Fund and the SoftBank Vision Fund have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create the ‘Solar Energy Plan 2030’, a new framework for developing the Kingdom’s solar energy sector.

“Within the coming 5-10 years, AI will become more prevalent in drug discovery and medical devices, but less likely in the care delivery setting.”

     - Alex Turkeltaub, CEO and Co-Founder, Roam, USA

The current thinking goes that robots will be unable to replace doctors, with the hope that AI will take up the mundane tasks so front-line staff can spend more time with patients. However, increasingly AI will be used in diagnosis, and robot nurses are already on trial in Japan to assist in homes for the elderly.

There is huge potential – under 30% have access to power in a number of African countries.”

     - Song Dongsheng, Chariman, Sinohydro, China

Hundreds of millions of Africans do not have access to a reliable supply of energy, and this seems likely to remain the case after another decade. Many countries, particularly in the sub-Sahara region, are facing a crisis. Yet there is definitely an opportunity here, to help close the gap between high-demand and the wealth of resources available – the key challenge will be ensuring they are distributed more evenly. Signs of this are already underway in the west of the country, where 14 nations, such as Ghana, Chad and Nigeria, are working to link up each other’s networks to create a unified power market and attract a greater amount of investment – this unification is being termed the West African Power Pool (WAPP).

“One thing is clear, new technology will make the transportation of people dramatically cheaper, easier, and more comfortable.”

     - Edwin Cass, Senior Managing Director & Global Head Of Real Assets, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Canada

The expectation is that the autonomous revolution, including groundbreaking innovations such as hyperloop, will lead to a much better deal for consumers. For example, Virgin Hyperloop One revealed prototypes in February 2018 for its Dubai - Abu Dhabi route, a network which would slash the (car) travel time between the cities from two hours to just 12 minutes. Whilst it is very early days, the system is set to function on a ‘turn-up-and-go’ principle, with quick check-ins and advanced accelerated security checks. The resulting issue, naturally, is that consumption may also increase dramatically – forecasting the impact of this is very difficult.

From transport technology to new cities, from renewable energy to the next industrial revolution, it’s clear that the great minds at the Future Investment Initiative were unerringly accurate with many of their predictions.  During the next forum this October, these future thinkers will be tested even further, as attendees debate the blueprint for the twenty-second century – just how far ahead can you think?