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Summary: The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross

The digital age, the information society, the technological revolution – the time we live in has a number of sobriquets, all of which point to an exciting fact: we are living in a new world. And what makes this time so interesting? The prevalence of data. Today, data is the raw material, and it can be processed and used to create new industries or revolutionize old ones.

The industries that thrive – the industries of the future – will create opportunities for new jobs and businesses, and make it possible for developing nations to transition smoothly into the new information age.

But with these developments come new challenges. For instance, how to use big data and create jobs for people displaced by technology? Let’s dive right in.

In this summary of The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross, you’ll discover

  • why people in Kenya prefer to transfer money by text message;
  • how cloud computing will make robots the preferred type of labor; and
  • why Estonia is called e-Estonia.

Book Summary: The Industries of the Future


In this informative overview, technology policy guru Alec Ross paints quite a believable picture of the future of international business. A wise and experienced guide, Ross offers balanced reporting on technological developments – discussing their practical applications in commerce – and on the economic and human consequences of technological change. As he highlights these areas, he explains where business will find ripe opportunities. He cautions that, as always, progress will create losers as well as winners. Revolutions in computing ability and robotic devices will displace quite skilled (and newly outraged) people from their professions. These transformations will also disrupt those at the bottom of the labor market, the people who often bear the brunt of change. Besides the economic implications of progress, Ross highlights moral dilemmas that technologies – such as genome and big data – generate. We recommend this measured, thoughtful look into the future of businesses, economies and societies.


  • Data are the “raw material of the digital age,” as land and iron were core elements in previous revolutions.
  • Private venture capital funding for robotics totaled $341 million in 2014.
  • Robots threaten many of the 60% of US jobs in aggregating and applying information.
  • The price of individual genome mapping is dropping fast, opening business opportunities.
  • Genome-based precision cancer treatments – which can “melt away” cancer growths – may mean that people will come to see today’s standard cancer treatments as “primitive.”
  • The fact that 80% of Africans now have mobile phones has huge implications. For example, 25% of Kenya’s GNP passes through its M-Pesa mobile payment network.
  • In 2015, cybersecurity was a $175 billion industry; that’s likely to double in five years.
  • The Bitcoin-type blockchain-and-ledger method of verifying provenance is one way the web could revolutionize and disrupt such security-conscious sectors as law and finance.
  • The Beijing Genomic Institute now has more sequencing machines than the entire US.
  • The combination of domain expertise and big data technology will provide many future opportunities.

Advances in robotics will increase efficiency, but also cost people their jobs.

Can you remember your first job? For lots of people, their entry into the job market was at a cafe or a restaurant, waiting tables or serving coffee. But in the future, such jobs might not even be available.

That’s because the introduction of cloud computing has enabled robots to do the work of humans. For instance, advances in cloud robotics – robots’ ability to upload experiences to the cloud and learn from the experiences of all other robots – mean that robots can now learn and grow faster than ever before.

As a result, robots are going to be capable of completing new tasks. In fact, an Oxford University study found that 47 percent of all US jobs are at great risk of being done by robots in the next two decades. For instance, the car service Uber runs a research lab that is building an automated taxi-fleet and Google’s research lab, Google X has been working on a driverless car project for six years!

But why would we want to replace human workers with robots?

Well, robots can service more people at lower prices. That’s because, unlike humans, who are cheap to hire but costly to keep on staff, robots don’t get paid a salary or take vacations. In fact, they can work all the time.

Just consider SEDASYS, a robotics system that oversees the sedation of surgery patients. Without SEDASYS, an anesthesiologist can only monitor one operation at a time, and his presence adds $2,000 to the cost of the operation. With SEDASYS, however, a single anesthesiologist can simultaneously oversee ten operations, and his efforts only add $150 per operation.

However, the value produced by robots isn’t going to be equally distributed. Therefore, governments need to do something about the income people will lose.

In fact, most of the savings made possible by robots will go straight to the big corporations that produce them. That means it’s up to governments to redistribute part of those savings into things like social-safety nets, education and skills training for the labor force displaced by robots.

Advances in health technology will mean big changes across the globe.

In the early 2000s, the human genome – that is, all of the information encoded within human DNA – was sequenced for the first time. The project cost $2.7 billion, but, since then, technological advances in genomics, the field of genome sequencing, have cut the cost of sequencing to around $1,000.

But why is genomics important?

Well, a better understanding of the human genome will mean better prevention and treatment of disease in general and cancer in particular. Cancer is the result of mutated DNA, which malfunctions, failing to stop the growth of unhealthy cells. With advances in technology, doctors will be able to find, and hopefully prevent, this growth earlier.

For instance, a new blood sample test known as a liquid biopsy lets technicians identify even the smallest pieces of cancer DNA in a blood sample. This makes it possible to discover a tumor that’s 1 percent the size of those an MRI can find.

This new technology will mean that 47 percent of cancers can be detected while they are still stage 1. This is a huge advance. For instance, ovarian cancers have a 95-percent cure rate when in stage 1. But the present technology tends to detect such cancers at stage 3 or 4, when chances of curing the patient are just 5 percent.

New medical technology in the developing world will mean something even more essential: connecting people to the fundamentals of health care. For instance, mobile communications are now present throughout Africa, but the number of doctors is quite low, standing at just 0.2 doctors per 1,000 people in Kenya.

Seeing this discrepancy, smartphone-based programs could be developed to connect patients with doctors and other specialized health-care workers who could then respond to medical questions, deliver diagnoses and check-ups and monitor the progress of treatment.

In fact, EyeNetra has produced a small plastic lens that can be attached to a smartphone and, when combined with an app, diagnose vision problems and prescribe the necessary corrective lenses. This obviates the need for a long trip to an optometrist and makes expensive machines redundant.

Current payment methods are inefficient, but technology is changing that.

Nearly every person has the same routine before leaving the house: cell phone, wallet, keys. But pretty soon, you’ll only need two of those essential items.

That’s because current methods of payment are hurting business, a fact that’s bound to change. For instance, credit-card technology is not only complicated, but it sucks up a huge percentage of retail profits.

After all, most internet companies maintain profit margins of around 5 percent and about half of that gets paid out to credit card companies or service providers. For example, companies pay monthly statement fees, monthly minimum fees, gateway fees and transaction fees of between 2 and 5 percent per transaction.

Seem like a lot of information?

Well, MasterCard’s policy on interchange fees is over 100 pages long!

Furthermore, since most countries have low access to banking systems, people tend to rely on alternative forms of payment. In fact, in most low-income countries, simply setting up a bank account is a seriously difficult task and securing a credit card is just about impossible.

That’s why Kenya developed an alternative that has since spread to 45 other countries. It’s called M-Pesa and it’s a payment system that uses mobile phones. It allows anyone with a SIM card to transfer money by sending a text.

And it really caught on. In fact, about 25 percent of Kenya’s GDP moves through M-Pesa. But the best part is that it works internationally, an essential feature, since approximately $40 billion per year is sent back to Africa by workers living abroad.

However, such systems are just the beginning. Technology is going to push payment to even greater heights as encrypted currencies, like Bitcoin, gain more steam. Here’s how they work:

Such alternative money technologies send encrypted messages that make for easier, faster payments. That kind of access means anyone can set up shop and charge for services. For instance, Airbnb and Uber are great examples of how business is becoming more distributed and local. And encrypted digital money is so safe that it can even be used to purchase a home!

Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important as data collection increases.

It used to be that parents who wanted their kids to secure a steady career would tell them to go to medical school. Today, however, being a doctor isn’t as appealing as some other professions, such as cybersecurity.

Here’s why:

More and more data is collected and stored every day. In fact, as soon as a kid is handed a smartphone, they begin leaving a lifelong trail of data. Indeed, there are now private corporations that specialize in data collection and maintain around 75,000 individual data points about the average American consumer!

And with the Internet of Things – that is, the online network of normal objects like toasters and fridges and cars – this number is only going to spike.

The problem is that once we create data, we have no say in how or by whom it is used. Not just that, but some companies who focus on targeted marketing sell extremely sensitive data. For instance, a company from Illinois sold lists of rape and domestic violence victims, as well as HIV/AIDS patients, to pharmaceutical companies at the bargain rate of just $79 per 1,000 names.

So, since it’s almost impossible to control your data, you need to be clear about what data you’re making available. And that goes for individuals, companies and governments alike, because all three are prone to cyber attacks.

In fact, banks, energy companies, air traffic control systems and just about every business that exchanges information depends on data technology. This reality makes such operations prime targets for criminals and enemies. Further complicating things, the internet has no borders, which means there are no clear jurisdictions that help mediate disputes between states.

Naturally, all this data, and the potential for its destructive use, produces a serious demand for experts in the field of cybersecurity.

Big data technology still relies on experts in different fields to put its information to use.

OK, so now you know the future is cybersecurity, but does that mean other careers will be irrelevant? Actually, tech workers will always need the support of other professions. Big data analysis is just one part of the equation.

For instance, data analytics produces insights by analyzing huge quantities of data from both the present moment and the past. The result is the streamlining of existing processes and access to information on an unprecedented scale.

Just take the combination of satellite-gathered weather information with ground-based sensors that measure water and air quality, nitrogen levels and other environmental conditions. This pairing enables one to find the exact right mixture of fertilizer, water and customized seeds to plant every square meter of soil.

Such precision agriculture will help farmers grow more food while emitting less pollution, which is our best option for solving world hunger. It’s also essential, however, that big-data technology and cheaper sensors team up with expert knowledge in each field – and that’s where other professionals come in.

Here’s why:

To apply technology most successfully it’s essential for someone to be on the ground with the requisite expertise in the field.

For instance, Pasture Meter is a technique of precision agriculture that originated in the Manawatu-Wanganui region of New Zealand. It employs advanced sensor technology to take 200 measurements a second, determining how much grass exists in a given field and how the cattle can be best distributed.

So, while it’s unlikely that anybody in Silicon Valley would think that watching grass grow could be a profitable business, the farmers of New Zealand, home to twice as many cattle as people, had an inside perspective. In fact, in part due to Pasture Meter, New Zealand’s beef sales to China have climbed by nearly 487 percent in just one year. They’re even outselling their much larger neighbor, Australia.

Future innovation requires open and equitable countries.

So, big data could mean major improvements for the industries of tomorrow. But what can be done to ensure that these improvements are actually made?

Fostering an open society. That means physical openness, like strong infrastructure, but also virtual openness, like a rapid and uncensored internet, as well as economical openness, like reduced tariffs on trade.

For instance, in 2000, Estonia declared access to the internet a human right. As a result of their widespread use of the internet, strong infrastructure and limited regulations on all types of services, they’ve earned themselves the nickname e-Estonia. In fact, the country even offers e-citizenship to foreigners, providing them equal civil rights and making it easy to conduct business with the country from across the globe.

An open society also means encouraging innovation by giving more authority and money to young people with big ideas. Born in the digital age, the young people of today are often more open to new ideas and take greater innovative risks.

For instance, in many traditional cultures like Japan, it takes decades for young people to reach the level of authority they need to fund their ideas. This hinders innovation. After all, it’s no coincidence that Google, Facebook, Oracle, Microsoft and loads of other information-technology giants were founded by entrepreneurs in their twenties.

But not only young people need to be empowered; women do, too. In fact, giving women more power is not merely a matter of ethics; it’s good economics as well. Countries that suppress women’s rights are, in essence, depriving themselves of half their workforce.

For instance, during the reconstruction following Rwanda’s horrific 1994 genocide, gender equality became central. The reforms resulted in women being able to register as landowners, which increased registrations by 20 percent and decreased the number of impoverished women by 20 percent.

Furthermore, between 2001 and 2013, the country’s GDP rose by eight percent per year! As a result, Rwanda is currently the only country in the world with a female majority in its parliament.


Big Data and the Internet of Things

Computing power is growing exponentially and becoming ever cheaper. Big data’s rate of growth continues to increase. Processing masses of data has become an increasingly viable option in business and science. More than 90% of the world’s digital data have been generated since 2013.

“Nobody is really sharing anything in the sharing economy. You can call it the sharing economy, but don’t forget your credit card.”

Data are the digital age’s raw material, just as land and iron were the core elements in previous revolutions. The big data revolution goes beyond volume. It includes making data searchable, and processing, transforming and communicating it in ways that help people visualize patterns. Big data helps firms “chew through” or “navigate” large amounts of information in real time.

“Big data…is both intimate and expansive. It examines small facts and aggregates these finite facts into information that can be both comprehensive and personalized.”

Robots that collect masses of information in self-correcting, evolving cloud databases could actually “learn” the emphasis, slang and accent that make up everyday human speech. As computing horsepower gets cheaper, more of your possessions and devices will contain computing ability and web connections to enhance their usefulness or save waste. This Internet of Things could have more impact “in one decade than the whole Internet to date has been.”


Today’s confluence of advances in artificial intelligence, computer science and big data mean that a steep increase in robots’ capabilities and usefulness is underway. Japan is the leader in robotics. The Japanese government has invested $24.6 million in robots to aid movement and provide entertainment for the elderly. Honda is working on robotic legs to help people walk.

“Banks – and the ecosystems around banks – are just starting to realize that they’re digital companies.”

Other robotics pioneers along with Japan include China, South Korea and Germany as well as the US, with President Obama’s 2011, $100-million National Robotics Initiative. These top five countries are working to establish the lucrative back-end support systems that will be the real earners in robotics since the industry will need their services, much as Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks serve the Internet revolution.

“Our money will be coded – broken down into 1s and 0s and wrapped within powerful tools for encryption.”

The combination of increasing computing muscle, big data, and cloud data transmission of robotic artificial intelligence will foment a potent shift. Robots will go beyond the control of specific programs and become self-evolving learning machines that can increase their own capabilities. Breakthroughs will see robots conquer tasks once deemed too difficult for them, like developing the real-time feedback mechanisms and reasoning needed for hand-eye coordination.

“A bank is a giant ledger that records how much money belongs to people and how much money people owe them. At heart, that’s a data problem.”

Besides funding from various national governments, private venture capital for robotics grew from $160 million in 2011 to $341 million in 2014. Google’s investment in driverless cars and Amazon’s experiments with delivery drones are among today’s high-profile projects. In 2013, companies bought 1,300 surgical robots for an average of $1.5 million each; surgical robots made up 41% of the total sales value of the robotics industry. Such robots have already performed procedures on one million Americans. As robots become more capable and useful to the economy, they will cause a dramatic and controversial disruption in employment. More than “half of US jobs could be at risk of computerization in the next two decades.” Unlike previous developments, which saw the mechanization of manual labor jobs, those now in the 60% of the workforce whose job involves aggregating and applying information could find their jobs at risk. Nations such as China, where social and political stability depend on mass employment in manufacturing, are wary of the way ever-cheaper, labor-saving robotic technology could affect their economies.

Biotechnology and the Genome

The buzz promises great breakthroughs in this area, but most people don’t yet understand how massive an entity genome technology could become. As data crunching and computing capabilities rise, the price of mapping genomes drops. It will continue to fall rapidly, creating scalable rewards in increasingly targeted drugs and personalized diagnostics. For instance, cancer is in the sights of the genome industry, which is making great, rapid progress in early detection. As science develops precision cancer treatments that can “melt away” cancer growths, standard cancer treatment could come to be seen as “primitive.” Genome advances in treating mental health conditions also are progressing quickly.

“Blockchain will be to banking, law and accountancy as the Internet was to media, commerce and advertising. It will lower costs, disintermediate many layers of business and reduce friction.”

A few innovative firms already offer a commercial service that sequences a customer’s DNA and provides personal health recommendations based on expert interpretation of the results. Using knowledge of the genome to modify pigs genetically to make their “lungs, kidneys, and hearts” compatible with human organs and suitable for harvesting could revolutionize the problematic area of human organ donation. China is working on a massive effort to become a genome research hub. Beijing’s Genomic Institute now has more sequencing machines than the entire US.

Mobile Phones and Encryption

The use of sophisticated encryption in mobile devices or cellphones opens up new alternatives for payment and commerce. Such technology could replace ATMs and wallets full of cards and cash. This “code-ification” of money and trust is important for all consumers. However, it may have a more profound effect in developing countries, especially considering that only 20 of the world’s 195 nations have fully modern banking systems. The mobile phone holds the most potential for progress in the codification of money and trust. For instance, 80% of Africans now have mobile devices, adding up to 650 million mobile users. Kenya “created an entire banking system using mobile phones and scratch cards.” Saving money and being innovative, it “leapfrogged over the creation of a traditional banking system, at least as it exists in much of the rest of the world.”

“Airbnb has succeeded in bringing eBay’s trust-through-algorithms-and-ratings model to lodging and built a business around it.”

Companies now use smart mobile phone technology to perform such diverse tasks as transmitting blood sample results, mapping landmines, distributing vaccines and diagnosing vision problems. Just as many developing countries skipped setting up a landline phone infrastructure, mobile technology is helping them close the development gap in other areas, such as health care.

“There are about 1,000 security people in the US who have the specialized security skills to operate effectively in cyberspace. We need 10,000 to 30,000.”

Kenya’s M-Pesa program is a leading example of this “frugal” technological innovation. It enables Kenyans to use their mobile phones to send and receive money. Some 19 million of Kenya’s 43 million people have M-Pesa accounts, and approximately 25% of Kenya’s GNP passes through the network. Experts estimate that the advantages of M-Pesa lifted the income of rural households by 5% to 30%. With M-Pesa, Kenyans don’t need expensive bank branches. Instead, a person with a valid ID card or passport can register with one of the thousands of stores or gas stations that provide physical cash from an M-Pesa balance. Sending money to someone else is as easy as sending a text.

“As a rule of thumb, the higher-ranking the person in government, the more apocalyptic his or her language about cyber.”

Encryption technologies provide game-changing ways to trade and manage personal finances, helping “the little guy” by giving users the flexibility of cash while keeping their funds safe behind passcodes. The minimal 40-cent charge on remittances, compared to the 8% that standard operators assess, means more money for the recipient. India invested a lot of money and effort into introducing biometric identity cards, which – although they are not based on mobile phone technology – can help 120 million of its disadvantaged people open bank accounts.

The eBay Trust Model

In the eBay economy, Internet platform companies and the sellers who use them establish “trust through algorithms and ratings.” The sellers’ concern for their reputations, future sales and online ratings convince consumers that they can safely pay a stranger for goods now that they’ll receive later. Airbnb takes advantage of this trust model. Using the web’s searching and matching power, it has become “effectively the worlds largest hotel chain,” with more than 800,000 listings in 34,000 cities. These successful trading platforms have a disruptive effect on the wider economy. They destroy old business models. Uber, one of the most controversial and disruptive platforms, has provoked taxicab drivers to stage protests around the world. The abilities of Uber’s efficient routing technology may enable its possible expansion into the growing sector of parcel delivery.

“The price of mapping the human genome will continue to drop at a shockingly fast rate, allowing for a process of commercialization to take place that unleashes private sector investment into the creation of new diagnostics, therapies and drugs based around genetics.”

The logical progression of methods for harnessing the Internet’s strengths in peer-to-peer marketplaces arguably could produce quite a neoliberal, transient labor market. Some workers may find that this framework, based on individual engagements, rewards their niche spectacularly. Workers with fewer skills could find themselves in a race to the bottom, trapped in an environment of perpetual bargaining and short contracts.


Cybercrime’s growth rate is commensurate with the international proliferation of the Internet, and it costs the world $400 billion a year. That makes cybersecurity one of the most lucrative, fastest-growing sectors of the economy. It’s current value, $175 billion a year, could easily double by 2021. Cyberattacks vary in format and target, including broad intellectual property activity theft coming out of China, terrorist attacks, and political attacks, such as those that Russian political groups directed at Estonia and Georgia.

“Many of the most powerful Chinese leaders believe that genomics is the next trillion-dollar industry, and they are determined to be its leader.”

The “weaponization of code” is a major concern for security officials, since cyberweapons are far easier to obtain than armaments or nuclear material, and since cyberwarfare isn’t limited by any accepted boundaries or norms. As people connect more and more aspects of their lives to the Internet, the general population will be more at risk. Cars and pacemakers are perhaps the most evocative examples of possible personal exposure to malicious cybercriminals.


Experts in financial technology (fintech) are in the business of applying big data, blockchain and algorithm developments to the retail financial industry. The essence of a retail bank hinges on its data about its customers and its asset-and-liability relationships with them. The financial crisis highlighted banks’ “clunky technology” and their lack of real-time, aggregated consolidated positions. This lack of hard numbers increased banking uncertainty during the fiscal crisis. A blockchain, by contrast, is “the big ledger” on which Bitcoin records “all transactions.” This blockchain-and-ledger method of verifying provenance and preventing fraud, as Bitcoin demonstrates, will be the magic ingredient that eventually allows such sectors as law and finance – which depend upon secrecy and trust – to follow in the Internet revolution. Such a move may render certain existing jobs and business models in those industries extinct.

“One Chinese CEO told me…being the center of the Internet’s commercialization extended America’s reign as a superpower by 10 years.”

For example, blockchain-and-ledger technology could create a “walled garden” behind which large companies could exchange money and information across national boundaries. Square Inc.’s new bank program, “Square Capital,” uses modern technology to create a more informed relationship with its business customers. Customers allow Square’s technology to track their companies’ collections and payments in real time. This gives Square Capital an ongoing live assessment of the health of the business. Clients can even receive loan repayments as a straight percentage that Square Capital removes live from incoming receipts.

Domain Expertise

Silicon Valley is the undisputed winner of the Internet revolution. Other cities should not hope to create a better Internet start-up hub. They should instead focus on being the center of expertise for a new domain. China understands this approach and is investing resources into new high-potential domains like robotics and the genome. A city or region’s domain expertise may dictate where the next clusters of future industries will succeed. London and New York want to lead on fintech. Boston is a hub for biotech. Washington, DC and its environs specialize in law and intelligence. Ex-government intelligence personnel often form cybersecurity firms there. Any industry that has the “domain expertise” to “apply big data technologies” will attract people determined to establish the “businesses of the future.”


The key message in this book:

The importance of data has grown considerably, and the way we use it will have a major impact on the future of the economy and society. Big-data analytics spurs innovation. However, it will also significantly change the job market and the security of our everyday lives.

Actionable advice:

Have a “data talk” with your kids.

These days, it’s essential for children to be educated about data, privacy and online security. So, it’s important to sit down with your kids and explain how their online actions today may have affect their lives tomorrow. While it’s impossible to control everything your children do – on- or offline – you can help them learn the risks associated with putting their data out there and teach them to make wise decisions on their own.

About the author

Alec Ross is a former senior adviser for innovation to the US Secretary of State, a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at John Hopkins University and an adviser to government leaders.


“The Industries of the Future” by Alec Ross is a thought-provoking and insightful book that explores the emerging technologies and industries that will shape the world of tomorrow. As a seasoned technology expert and former Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State, Ross provides a detailed roadmap of the key technologies and industries that will define the future of work, commerce, and society. The book offers a comprehensive analysis of the trends, challenges, and opportunities in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, energy, and more. Ross also delves into the societal and ethical implications of these emerging technologies and their potential impact on human life, highlighting the importance of responsible innovation and the need for a balanced approach to technological progress.

Key Points:

  • Emerging Technologies: Ross identifies ten emerging technologies that will drive the industries of the future, including artificial intelligence, blockchain, 3D printing, and the Internet of Things (IoT). He provides in-depth explanations of each technology, highlighting their potential applications and the challenges associated with their adoption.
  • Industry Disruption: The book explores how these emerging technologies will disrupt various industries, including healthcare, finance, transportation, and education. Ross provides examples of companies and countries that are already leveraging these technologies to transform their respective industries.
  • Societal Impact: Ross discusses the societal implications of these emerging technologies, including their potential to exacerbate existing inequalities and the need for responsible innovation to minimize negative consequences. He emphasizes the importance of addressing these challenges to ensure that the benefits of technological progress are shared by all.
  • Ethical Considerations: The book raises important ethical questions related to the development and deployment of these emerging technologies. Ross highlights the need for a multidisciplinary approach to address these ethical considerations and ensure that technological progress aligns with societal values.
  • Future of Work: Ross forecasts the impact of these emerging technologies on the future of work, including the potential for job displacement and the need for workers to acquire new skills. He provides strategies for workers to adapt to the changing job market and for policymakers to address the challenges associated with technological unemployment.
  • Innovation Ecosystems: The book explores the role of innovation ecosystems in fostering the development and adoption of emerging technologies. Ross provides case studies of successful innovation ecosystems and highlights the importance of collaboration between government, industry, and academia in driving technological progress.
  • Global Competition: Ross discusses the geopolitical implications of these emerging technologies, including the potential for a new global competition for technological supremacy. He highlights the need for countries to collaborate and coordinate their efforts to ensure that the benefits of technological progress are shared globally.
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence. Ross argues that these technologies will have a profound impact on the way we work, live, and play. Robots will automate many of the tasks that are currently done by humans, and AI will become increasingly sophisticated, enabling us to solve complex problems and make better decisions.
  • Cybersecurity and cybercrime. The rise of digital technology has created new opportunities for cybercrime, and Ross warns that this is a major threat to our economic and national security. He calls for greater investment in cybersecurity, and for new international cooperation to combat cybercrime.
  • Genomics and personalized medicine. The commercialization of genomics is opening up new possibilities for personalized medicine. Ross believes that this will lead to a revolution in healthcare, as we develop new treatments and cures that are tailored to individual patients.
  • Big data and analytics. The explosion of data is creating new opportunities for businesses and governments to make better decisions. Ross argues that we need to develop new tools and techniques to harness the power of big data, and to ensure that it is used in a responsible and ethical way.
  • The impact of digital technology on money and markets. Digital technology is transforming the way we bank, invest, and trade. Ross argues that this is creating new opportunities for innovation, but also new risks. He calls for greater regulation of digital financial markets, and for new international cooperation to ensure financial stability.
  • Blockchain: Ross emphasizes the transformative potential of blockchain technology, which he believes will fundamentally change the way we conduct transactions, protect data, and secure assets. He notes that blockchain could create new industries and disrupt existing ones.
  • Quantum Computing: Ross discusses the incredible potential of quantum computing, which he argues will solve complex problems that are currently unsolvable. He highlights the potential applications of quantum computing in fields such as materials science, drug discovery, and climate modeling.
  • Biotechnology: Ross notes that biotechnology is already transforming healthcare and agriculture, and will continue to do so in the future. He highlights the potential for gene editing technologies like CRISPR to revolutionize the treatment of diseases and improve crop yields.
  • Energy and Environment: Ross argues that the transition to a clean energy economy is inevitable and will create new industries and jobs. He highlights the potential for technologies like solar energy, electric vehicles, and carbon capture to mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • Advanced Materials: Ross notes that advances in materials science will drive innovation in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and energy. He highlights the potential for materials like graphene and nanomaterials to revolutionize product design and performance.
  • Water Technology: Ross argues that water technology will become increasingly important as global demand for water resources grows. He highlights the potential for technologies like desalination and water recycling to address water scarcity and quality issues.
  • Advanced Robotics: Ross notes that advanced robotics will revolutionize industries such as manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare. He highlights the potential for robots to perform tasks that are too dangerous, difficult, or repetitive for humans.
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality: Ross argues that VR and AR will transform industries such as education, entertainment, and healthcare. He highlights the potential for these technologies to enhance human experience and improve learning outcomes.


  • Comprehensive analysis of emerging technologies and their potential impact on industries and society
  • Practical advice for individuals, businesses, and governments looking to adapt and thrive in the future
  • Insights from a seasoned diplomat and expert in global trends and technological innovation


  • Some of the concepts and technologies may be too complex for non-experts to fully understand
  • The book is quite long and could benefit from more concise chapters or summaries


“The Industries of the Future” by Alec Ross provides a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the emerging technologies and industries that will shape the world of tomorrow. The book offers valuable insights for policymakers, business leaders, and individuals interested in understanding the complex interplay between technology, society, and economics. By highlighting the potential benefits and challenges of these emerging technologies, Ross provides a roadmap for responsible innovation and a more equitable future.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the technological, economic, and societal trends that will shape the future of humanity. It is a thought-provoking and insightful read that will inspire readers to think critically about the role of technology in shaping the world we live in and the future we want to create.


I highly recommend “The Industries of the Future” to anyone looking to understand the transformative technologies that will shape the future of work and society. Alec Ross provides a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the industries that are poised to dominate the next generation of innovation and growth. While some of the concepts may be too complex for non-experts, the book is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay ahead of the curve and navigate the challenges and opportunities of the future.

Here are some additional thoughts on the book:

  • Ross does a good job of balancing the potential benefits and risks of the technologies he discusses. He is not afraid to point out the challenges that we will face, but he also offers hope that we can use these technologies to create a better future.
  • The book is well-written and engaging. Ross is a gifted storyteller, and he brings the future to life in a way that is both informative and thought-provoking.
  • The book is timely and relevant. The technologies that Ross discusses are already having a major impact on our world, and their influence will only grow in the years to come.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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