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November 2008 was not merely the start of the current economic downturn; it was also the end of a 50 year long economic cycle and the transition to a long anticipated new economy. Our current crisis is nothing less than a shift from a dying consumer economy built on consumption to a new “creator economy” built on mass interaction and innovation. Understanding this shift provides a context for making sense of emerging industries from robotics to 3-D printing and anticipating the impacts on incumbent industries from automobiles to media and consumer products. The result will be maddening uncertainty, but for innovators who keep their head – and keep their head up—it will also be a period of unprecedented opportunity.
Paul Saffo is a forecaster with over two decades experience helping corporate and governmental clients understand and respond to the dynamics of large-scale, long-term change. He is Managing Director of Foresight at Discern Analytics and teaches class on forecasting at Stanford in the Engineering School. Paul is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences His essays have appeared in a wide range of publications including The Harvard Business Review, Foreign Policy, Fortune, Wired, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, The New York Times and the Washington Post. Paul holds degrees from Harvard College, Cambridge University, and Stanford University.