[The article below was originally an Institute lecture given by the author on August 3, 2017. Here’s the link to the video recording.]
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to deliver this prestigious Institute Lecture. I will not indulge in speculative technology forecasting but all the same, transport you into the future, because the kind of research projects or non-academic careers that you could choose may change if you knew some aspects of the future with a degree of certainty. I will demonstrate that you can even today see many of the things that will, probably, happen in a few years. You just need to identify important technological developments that have already happened and then study their impact, when adopted in specific fields, and then, study the impact of those things on things that lie further downstream. My interest in these things started one summer night in Aberdeen in 2007 when I heard on TV that a British Bank, Northern Rock had collapsed suddenly due to investments in CDS (Collateral Default Swaps), an instrument that most people had not heard of till then. I wondered how things could have been different for hapless investors, if this collapse could have been anticipated. Research led me to understand that Banks were speculating in that instrument and that it was being used by Bankers in the US to create multiple layers of pseudo assets built on poor quality loans given to people with doubtful credit history. After understanding the chain of events backwards from Northern Rock’s collapse to the root cause, I found that if one had worked forward from when reckless trading in naked CDSs had started, it would have been possible to predict the Northern Rock collapse. This thought enthused me to use the same process in the forward direction starting with the then situation, and that led me to believe that the entire global economy will collapse in the next year. I gave talks on this at various public forums from November 2007 until March 2008 by which time the fault-lines became self-evident and the collapse happened in July 2008. Then onwards, for the past decade, I have been using this very simple process of deductive logic for predicting the future after identifying things that can trigger change- social trends, politics and technology amongst many others. That is the secret behind predicting that oil price would collapse in 2008 whilst the general opinion, including that of Goldman Sachs, was that it would rise from $140 per barrel to $180.