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Posted: March 24, 2014

The futurist: Creating the ultimate fortune cookie

People would stand in line for one

Thomas Frey

For this reason I’ve taken the liberty of creating a few of the parameters that will help guide people’s thinking.

  1. A fortune with less than 24-hour event horizon.
  2. Correlates three or more seemingly unrelated data points in the life of the person receiving it.
  3. Recommends a single course of action and predicts meaningful results.
  4. Can be demonstrated to be at least 80 percent accurate.
  5. Advises the recipient to do something he or she would not have previously considered.

The Ultimate Fortune Cookie Scenario

So let’s pull it all together with this scenario.

You enter the famous Tao Fusion restaurant with great anticipation. You are joined by a group of friends because tapping into your “friend network” often produces better fortunes.

The waiter hands you a smart menu that automatically changes the menu items to only select items that you like and things that fall within your diet.

As you order your food and enjoy the meal, the anticipatory computing system is cross-referencing appointments, places you’ve been, projects you’ve been working on, relationships, emails, and telephone conversations. The end result is a meaningful fortune printed on a small piece of paper and sent to the cookie machine.

The cookie machine consists of a 3D food printer that instantly syncs up with your preferred flavors and dietary requirements and prints a perfect cookie around the all-important fortune.

During this process, no people are aware of any of the details throughout the process, nor have any of them seen your fortune. Your privacy is still perfectly intact.

At the end of your meal, the waiter brings out a finely decorated plate with the cookie as the centerpiece. Your name has been carefully printed along the edge in lightly colored confectionery cream so there is no mistaking whose cookie it is.

Once you open the cookie and read the fortune, it immediately causes a series of events to unfold, giving direction to your ideas, giving answers to your uncertainties, and giving motion to seemingly unmovable situations.

This one seemingly innocent fortune cookie has changed your life in profound ways.

Eight Examples

While I’m surely missing many of the possibilities, I thought it would be helpful to give you a few examples of the kind of fortunes you might receive.

  1. If you call Frank, the CFO at Acme computing tomorrow, you will be able to solve the valuation dispute you’re having with the Mango Tiberius Corporation. He’ll be free for one hour starting at 11:00 am.
  2. On your next date with Sharon, if you ask her about the product shipment failure under her previous boss, Charles, you’ll be able to understand her reluctance to form an intimate relationship.
  3. The Nissan Altima you’re considering buying has brake problems that the seller hasn’t told you about. Be wary of purchasing this vehicle.
  4. Before you vote in tomorrow’s election, please understand the attack ads against Joe Wilson are highly distorted, but his claims of fiscal responsibility are also exaggerated. A vote for Betsy Green is more in line with your values.
  5. Arthur is about to propose to you. But before you agree to marry him, you should ask him why he left his last four jobs after less than a year.
  6. Your son Jonathan is having difficulty with his new job but doesn’t want to tell you about it. A simple phone call from you would help him immensely.
  7. Your washing machine will fail sometime within the next three months. Best to put aside money for a new one.
  8. You will receive a call tomorrow from the Greenland Corporation offering you a different position than what you’d applied for, and also for less money. If you emphasize your marketing background you’ll be able to get the job you want.

As you read through each of these examples, some will seem more plausible than others. Please feel free to offer more examples or comments about the ones above in the comment section below.


Final Thoughts

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
- Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich.

In much the same way we can predict the weather less than 24 hours in the future with ever increasing accuracy, anticipatory computing will be able to predict near-term personal events with far greater precision.

Any restaurant serving this kind of fortune cookie would instantly have people standing in line to get in. The fortune cookie, however, is really just a tool which we can all relate to for giving us a tiny glimpse of the world ahead.

The combination of old school products and digital age thinking will unleash far more opportunities than ever before in history. But I only know that because I paid attention to my fortune cookie yesterday, what it represented, not what was inside it. I suggest you do the same.

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Thomas Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute and currently Google’s top-rated futurist speaker.  At the Institute, he has developed original research studies, enabling him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. Tom continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come.  His talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level of government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, GE, Blackmont Capital, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Qwest, Allied Signal, Hunter Douglas, Direct TV, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, STAMATS, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer.

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