What does the future hold for Silicon Valley? Reflection on Poland’s Top 500 Innovators’ visit at the Institute of the Future.
By Ela Kozera
One hundred years ago, there was no better place in the world to grow fruit than in the Santa Clara Valley, which, filled with over 100, 000 acres of fruit trees, was known as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight.” Aside from the fruit orchards, countless canneries and fruit processing plants shipping millions of fruit cans worldwide annually dominated the valley’s landscape. Some of the plants such as Ferry-Morse Seed Co., Sunsweet and Libby’s, to name just a few, were the industry leaders.
And then came a change with the mission and vision of many. Among them, professor Fred Terman, who in 1951 co-established the Stanford Industrial Park (now known as Stanford Research Park) as the world’s first cutting-edge technology park housing such companies as Varian Associates, Hewlett Packard, Eastman Kodak, General Electric, and Lockheed Corporation. The Father of Silicon Valley, as professor Fred Terman is described, by encouraging and promoting innovation, laid the foundation for future generations in creating Silicon Valley that we know today. In 1957, eight pioneers founded Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation whose entrepreneurial spirit ultimately gave roots to many successful chip companies. Eventually in 1971, the iconic name Silicon Valley was born making this region later on the innovation capital of the world.
The Silicon Valley that we live in today is being shaped by the presence of thousands of technology companies with such giants as Apple, Google, Facebook, Oracle, Cisco, Intel, Tesla, Uber and Twitter among them. As the leaders of their respective industries, each of these companies makes the world believe that every technological revolution is possible in this magical place.
Recently, together with Poland’s Top 500 Innovators, I visited the Institute of the Future (IFTF) in Palo Alto, California. For almost five decades, IFTF has provided practical foresight by examining trends, signals, forces and shifts all around us. Using leading-edge research methodologies, IFTF offers practical tools and workshops for business, government and non-profits enabling them to imagine and build the future for their organizations, communities and teams. By researching the past and current trends, IFTF is forecasting the possibilities of the future. Each analyzed hypothetical story has different outcomes.
Hence, what does the future hold for Silicon Valley in ten, twenty, or fifty years? Which entity will emerge as the next revolutionary company? What a big vision will influence and change the minds of future generations?
Imagine the future where owning a car will be less appealing than having an access to it.
Imagine the future where multiple sensors will be embedded into our bodies telling us that, for example, we will have a heart attack in three hours.
Imagine sounds and voices that will be built into countless things around us, interacting with us as peer-to-peer talk.
Imagine the impossible becoming overnight reality.
That is the reality that we will be experiencing within the next ten years. Is the Silicon Valley ready for the next revolution? Are you ready for that future?