Path Home Shows 2016 Show Archive October 2016 Show 1642 Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1642

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1642

This week on “Oklahoma Horizon,” our focus is on what’s next and how we gain the skills and attributes to thrive in a world not yet created.
Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1642

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1642

For more information visit these links:

Lowell Catlett

U.S. Chamber Foundation

Google Self-Driving Car Project

Driverless Car Market Watch

NPR Food For Thought

DIY Diagnostics

WSJ: Health-Care Apps that Doctors Use

Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence

Show Details

Show 1642: Oklahoma Horizon TV
Air Date: October 16, 2016



Rob McClendon: Here’s what’s coming up on your “Horizon.” So here’s a sobering thought: Take any first-grade classroom from around the country, and of those students, 65 percent of those first-graders will work in a type of job that does not even exist today. Today, our focus is centered around a simple, yet complex question: What’s next? We’ll spend our time talking with noted futurist Lowell Catlett about a future that’s not near as bleak as some would have you believe. Stay with us for a look to the future on “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Female Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by CareerTech – a job for every Oklahoman and a workforce for every company, with additional support from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” I’m Rob McClendon. Well, for the world of work, the driver of the last 20 years has been digitization. Computer code has changed everything from how we work to what we work on. And while we’ve seen some jobs go away, others have been created. Today, our focus is on what’s next and what that will mean for all our lives. And the person who’ll take us on that journey is noted futurist Lowell Catlett. With some background, here’s our Blane Singletary.

Blane Singletary: There’s an old proverb that says no news is good news. But Lowell Catlett says the good news about our economy is out there.

Catlett: We’re a strong, $18 trillion-plus economy, OK?

Blane: Lowell Catlett is the former Dean of agricultural, consumer, and environmental sciences at New Mexico State University. He’s known as a futurist.

Catlett: I can’t forecast the future, but I can help you plan for it.

Blane: But his message about the economy is all about looking at our present situation from a different perspective.

Catlett: We’re still one-fourth of the world’s economy. So can an $87 trillion economy handle a debt load of roughly the same amount as our GDP, $18 trillion? Well, in the business world, that’s a pretty good debt to equity ratio. So overall we’re a growing economy, overall we’ve never had more net worth. Never, never in history.

Blane: Catlett’s message is that, economically, it’s never been a better time to be an American. Over the course of the past few decades, we’ve grown in wealth and now enjoy common access to things that we never knew we wanted back then.

Catlett: You want, maybe, private school for your children where the previous generation went to public school. Maybe you want a bigger house. Maybe you want two houses. It’s driving a whole mechanism of new products.

Blane: And this growing trend in wealth is happening other places, too. He’s traveled the world over, spreading his message with industry leaders and helping companies plan for this growth in output – in his unique, upbeat way.

Catlett: Since 1970, the world’s produces slightly less than $4 trillion. Now the world produces how much? The largest ever recorded in history! $70 trillion bucks! $70 trillion! The world has gotten wealthier, but come on folks, so have we.

Blane: Some would argue a disproportionate amount of that wealth is flowing to the 1 percent, and you’d be right, but Catlett’s got some good news for the other 99.

Catlett: The 1-percenters as we call them control 19 percent. The real question is for us 99 percent: Is that 81 percent left giving us a good life? So, yeah, there’s inequality but they have the best life they’ve ever had in history.

Blane: And part of the reason for that is just how much we can do with our disposable income today.

Catlett: So how much of your disposable income does it take to eat in the United States of America? It’s the lowest it’s ever been in history, lowest in the world, 9.6 percent. Are you with me? Average American household has 70 percent of their disposable income after eating, drinking, eating out, owning a home, paying the utilities, connecting to the Internet -- left to do what? I call it buying crap!

Blane: And looking towards the near future, he says there’s a lot more wealth about to change hands.

Catlett: Two-thirds of that nation’s wealth, of the $87 trillion, is held by my generation, baby boomers. Because 40 percent of it is tied up in properties and real estate values. So you’re gonna see the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in the next 10 years that’s ever appeared in history.

Blane: So with a huge amount of money on the horizon and many aspects of our current situation looking better than they ever have, Catlett’s message is what many economists are saying: These times will pass. As industries get shaken up by technology, however, things might look a little different on the other side.

Catlett: Health care just changed. Manufacturing just changed. And now, education just changed. A great opportunity for you, your business. Ha ha ha [makes upward motion], but it’s gonna be weird as hell.

Rob: Now, when we return, I sit down with Lowell Catlett to talk about the steps we all need to take to be part of the American Dream.



Female Announcer: You’re watching “Oklahoma Horizon” with Rob McClendon – weekly insight into your changing world.

Rob McClendon: Well, in recent years, we’ve seen automation and robotics replace various blue collar labor jobs. But thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, robotic work has begun to expand from the repetitive and the routine, to the cognitive and nonroutine. And that very well could have a significant impact on our workplace, and not just blue collar jobs. I sat down with futurist Lowell Catlett and asked him what challenges such advances could raise.

Lowell Catlett: Well, the challenges is we’re real, one of the big challenges is manufacturing. Manufacturing is now moving from large manufacturing, very costly manufacturing facilities, sometimes overseas, sometimes close to where I live in southern New Mexico, across in Mexico where we had what we call maquiladoras where you can manufacture overseas and bring them back. But now with 3-D printing, you have the ability for a few hundred bucks to have and make things that required several million dollars worth of investments a long time ago. So we’ve got an adjustment in manufacturing where manufacturers are saying, “Hey, maybe it’s better to come back here where we have more control over things.” And so manufacturing is moving away, and it’s getting smaller so you’ve got a real restructuring in manufacturing.

Rob: Let’s talk a little bit about workforce. There’s a concern here in the state, and I know around the nation, about a skills gap that we have more jobs in certain areas that people are not qualified for. And I’m not talking about Ph.D. level degrees; I’m talking about certain specific skills. Is that a concern as we, as our economy matures and as the workforce matures?

Catlett: It’s one of those what we call structural changes that we’re just trying to, trying to catch up on. The good thing is that we’ve got technologies now called augmented reality that were used for years by certain industries. For example, a pilot now is trained and gets lots of hours in a simulator, because the simulators are so good. And then we let them go to the very expensive equipment. So now we’ve got -- and the good and the new science of education says that about a 100 hours in a simulated environment gives you a skill set to operate and do things that would have required a 1,000 hours before -- so now you’ve got the ability to learn faster and mistakes are less costly. So we’ve got a good model that basically says, yeah, we’re short of plumbers right now, we really are. But there’s a technology that instead of five years of apprenticeship with a plumber, we got a technology that can get you rapidly up to speed to be a helper that may shorten that to two years, OK. So I’m very hopeful about it, but man we’re in a structural. And the big one as we all know is, we’ve got and have had for 20 years, almost 60 percent of the students now going to college are female. We’ve got a real underemployment of males because, and I think it’s wonderful for females – they’re now the majority in veterinary schools, the majority in medical schools, the majority in law school, the majority in CPAs, 38 percent in engineering. They’re growing, but at the same time, men are more interested in kind of hands-on. So they’re less inclined to go in the tradition roots and more inclined to, to go into what we would call the trade associations. Well, with new augmented reality, we’ve got a way to rapidly get them a skill set that we never had before, if we can get it done.

Rob: Does our society need to approach work maybe a little bit differently? Because I do understand what you’re saying about females going into the workplace, but I also understand there’s a definite leakage of those females once they get into the workplace just because of family concerns.

Catlett: Sure, sure. It’s we’re, we’re rapidly approaching a situation where we will change the work family dynamic more in the next 20 years than at any time in history. And let me start first with education if I might for just a second and come back to it. Thomas Jefferson, when he founded the University of West Virginia years ago, during the 1800s, wouldn’t allow degrees to be offered because his concept was, if you get a degree you think you’re done, OK. And he wanted people to understand that education is lifelong. But, I also call it the Uber Effect. The Uber, you know, the, the folks that said basically, just punch the button, we know where you are and somebody in their private car will take you somewhere for a few bucks, OK. That’s a fabulous technology, OK. So you start applying Uber technologies to people that want to raise a family but would like to work 20 hours a week, but if that 20 hours a week to have to commute into a traditional work environment or they’re going to be rigidly controlled by a traditional work environment, they may not do it. But wait a minute, that affect says what you’re after from me is the value of my input and my labor, why do you care how that comes about? Why do you care where it’s done or how it’s done? So we start linking ‘em in ways that just drives traditionalists crazy, you know, it’s like you gotta be here. Well, what you’re after is the value of my input and labor. You shouldn’t be concerned how that comes about. So I may work 15 hours a week. And the real trend that’s out there, and its rooting so fast that one futuristic guy by the name of Ray Kurzweil calls it singularity – the point that we will get to when artificial intelligence exceeds humans. He says and thinks that it’ll be probably within, by 2030 or so, another 15 years. Well, wait a minute, if that occurs there’s a whole bunch of people that says, “Well, if that’s the case then there’s no, there, work will be done totally by robots and that humans will not get.” But technology, we’ve moved toward where we went from 70 hours a week to 35 hours a week and now you have, most people have their weekends. If you’re not spending 90 percent of your time to put food on the table, you’ve got a whole bunch of other time to be productive in other ways. And so technology’s always created more jobs than it’s destroyed. And having more leisure time has always created more business opportunities than it’s taken away. Because if you’ve got your weekends free, you want to go to a football game, you want to go to a soccer match, you want to do something. Guess what, you’re gonna buy a Coke. Guess what, you’re gonna drive a car. It creates more jobs. So when we move towards singularity, we may move, my point to come back to bring it all to focus is, we may move to a world where you spend five hours a week earning your living. It’s, it’s just skewed and totally has the opportunity within certainly -- I’m an old man, I’m 66, but probably within my lifetime we’ll get close to it. I don’t know if we’ll ever reach it where we have it totally. But as we move toward it just think of what’s happened in the last 50 years about, we spend virtually nothing trying to get to put food on the table. And you get to do all kinds of other things in reach. So it’s gonna totally push us all to rethink work and family and leisure. Long answer, too. I don’t know the answer, but it’s gonna be totally integrated in the way that we just can’t even think about.

Rob: So it sounds like the next big thing is not only technology but how we relate to that technology.

Catlett: Totally, totally. It’s always been the case. It’s always been the case. And, and technologies don’t necessarily always come with a dark side. None of us is gonna give up the automobile, but 32,000 people die on the roads every year. But that’s why we’re working towards -- guess what, it used to be 56,000 20 years ago. More people died on the highways from automobile accidents than died in the whole Vietnam War in a single year. So it pushed us to passive restraints, air bags, and the next layer is, guess what, totally driven cars. I mean, boy, Tulsa wants it. General Motors says it’s a No. 1 priority, 3,800 miles without a single accident coast-to-coast, totally automatically driven General Motors car last year.

Rob: Certainly could make the commute a little bit different.

Catlett: It will. And you might want to have a beer while you go.

Rob: [Laugh] I never thought of that.

Catlett: [Laugh] So it’s, it’s one of those things that it has s downside, but because that downside was so severe, guess what, we worked on other technologies to make it less severe. And you’re seeing traffic deaths gradually decline because it was a technology that we’re not gonna give up, You know, we’ll put up with it simply because it adds so much value in other ways.

Rob: Now, in 2015, the giant brokerage firm Charles Schwab took automation a step further with robo-advisers, an online service that will pick stocks for you based on your personal financial goals and your stomach for risk. Now, robo-advisers have been tried before, but Schwab made it mainstream with more than $4 billion invested in the firm’s intelligent portfolio offering in its first year.

Male Announcer: Still to come on “Oklahoma Horizon,” the intersection of technology and health care, but first, energy and agriculture.



Rob McClendon: Well, with the price of oil in the doldrums, and Oklahoma workers suffering from it, it may sound a bit Pollyannaish to predict a return to boom times. But that is exactly what Lowell Catlett predicts based on the simple laws of supply and demand.

Lowell Catlett: If something kind of works in economics, we call it an axiom. If it works more than kind of, we call it a law, and we ain’t got many. Well, one of the laws we have is there’s an inverse relationship between price and quantity. So, guess what, if you’ve got a high price you can bet generally what? There’s not many of ‘em, OK. Pretty good law. Gee, let’s see, at a $100 a barrel for oil, we found the damn stuff in North Dakota. And then when North Dakota became a big oil producer, guess what? Did we have some more oil than we thought were gonna have? Kinda! What happened to the price of oil? Pretty good law.

Catlett: To do all the things we talked about requires energy in phenomenal magnitudes, OK. And it has to be mobile, and it has to be usable. And we’re gonna look at different ways of doing that. It may be that we’ll move more toward electric vehicles, but you still have to charge those things. So we may charge them by very efficient solar cells, we may charge ‘em by wind, we may charge ‘em by stripping out petroleum into other component parts and using it to create little small fuel cells, I don’t know. But energy, the demand for it, is gonna explode – already is. It’s just gonna be in multifacets. And as we learn more about each one, we’ll do it. And we sometimes discard some. We’ve discarded a lot of coal plants to try to meet emission standards. But SacPower in Saskatchewan has a coal powered plant that basically meets the same stringent requirements we have in the U.S. that can only be met with natural gas, and they’re doing it with coal. So they’re using technologies in a way that nobody thought possible. So if you’re creative enough you can do it.

Rob: Onto another one of our major industries here in the state, and that is agriculture. With our growing global population, what does that mean for agriculturalists?

Catlett: We have to double meat production in the next 20 years to meet the demand for the rising wealth. Because the first thing they want when they get more money around the world is a better diet. The first thing they want in their diet is more meat. We have to double meat production. We’re not gonna do it anywhere in the world for the most part other than in the U.S. We have the capability, the infrastructure and the know-how to do it. And I say we do it in intensive animal operations because that’s where they have the least impact on the environment, the greatest gain in physical care and health and the greatest feed efficiency. So what’s it mean for agriculture? It means we’re gonna have to meet that demand for meat because the world wants it, and they want U.S. meat. They want it in poultry. They want it in pork. They want it in beef. That’s no small wonder that the Chinese have purchased and are rapidly moving towards getting as much of the pork facilities as they can in the U.S. Because we’ve gotta supply that meat protein, OK. If we’ve gotta supply that meat protein in an intensive animal operations, we need corn, we need soybeans, we need wheat. We need crops to do that. So overall I say it’s the greatest time to ever be in agriculture. Because you’ve got to do that, and you also gotta say, for people that say, “Well I, I know that but I want, you know, I want to know that that animal, I want to know who raised that animal. I want it certified all the way down. I want cageless chickens. I want free-range.” There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just you gotta whole segment of marketplaces that -- guess what, I know for a fact, you’ve got ‘em here in Oklahoma. You’ve got ranchers that will provide you a natural beef, no antibiotics, all day long. And you’ve got people that are trying to produce as many pounds of beef as they can to feed a different group of people, and you’ve got ‘em side by side. We’ve never had that before. Best time ever to be in agriculture.

Rob: Now, Dr. Catlett is a regent's professor in agricultural economics and a former dean at New Mexico State University, and if you are interested in the future of food and agriculture, I have a link to Catlett’s keynote address at the 85th National FFA Convention that I think you’ll find interesting. To watch that, just head and look under our value added section.

Female Announcer: “Horizon” is at your fingertips – join us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to catch the segments you may have missed and our latest new content as it happens.

Rob McClendon: Well, the world’s last economic revolution was brought to us by computer code, but the next revolution may be one in our genetic code. In the not too distant future, the cost of medicine may be heading down, while the delivery of health care, well, it may be heading up. It’s a medical revolution that is being brought to us by technology, from do-it-yourself diagnostics to hospitals at home.

Catlett: The best thing, and I’ll pull it out here and show it to you is this, it’s called do-it-yourself diagnostics. Your cell phone, OK, a little device on the back will do a blood count, blood cell count, give you your INR value every day, give you your, if you’re on blood thinners it will give you your white cell count, red cell count, all right here. We do it for heart monitoring right now, I put my finger over here, all my heart data with an app. If you’re my age, I’m 66, I go to a cardiologist once a year at one data point. How about five a day, five infinite? So now we have do-it-yourself diagnostics – totally changes everything, OK. And more importantly, you take the Uber effect and here it comes, the patient will see you now. Wait a minute, it used to be the doctor will see me now. No, I’m busy. We start linking health care in ways we never dreamed possible. There’s, there’s a, and this is, this is mostly a change in attitude and it’s called hospitals at home. And there’s several hospitals that will do this. You come, and you need very intense care. We take your hospital, we do the evaluations, we take a hospital bed, even the monitoring, take it to your home, set it up, the specialists, we have all the information constantly monitored. The specialists, the doctors, everybody comes to your place – cheaper, better outcomes. Hospital beds at home.

Rob: Wow.

Catlett: Totally revolutionizing health care.

Rob: What’s your best advice for the working joe, for that middle-class person going forward into the future?

Catlett: To not be afraid to try something because it’ll trigger your thinking about things. It took me a long time, and I keep coming back to Uber because I’m just, I just go if I need public transportation I just go stand in the taxi cab line or I’ll call a taxi cab. I thought that was really nice to have a cell phone and call a taxi cab. Try a technology because you alone as an individual will figure out, you know what, well why couldn’t I do that? I was just shown at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, the virtual reality they set up, I have no idea the millions of dollars, the virtual reality, because you’ve gotta go in and change a nuclear reactor rod or fix it, but they wanted to do it with virtual reality, and so they simulated it. One guy, high school dropout, said “You know what, that’s very costly, lots of computers.” He just had a different vision about different angles in the lenses, it’s now called oculus, $199 set of glasses that are better than most multimillion dollar virtual reality, OK. Try a technology, you’ll find out that, guess what, you might see an application somewhere. Because I guarantee ya, if you need a plumber on Saturday night, you might be the one that designs and builds the Uber system for plumbers.

Rob: Well Dr Catlett, as always, my pleasure.

Catlett: My pleasure.

Rob McClendon: Next time on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we look at the science and art at the new Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at Science Museum Oklahoma.

Clint Stone: In “DaVinci the Genius,” you’re able to look at the work of Leonardo, one of the greatest minds in human history. He was not just the amazing painter. He was not just the wonderful engineer. He was a designer. He was a big thinker, and that’s why Leonardo is so important.

Rob: Science and art, on Oklahoma’s show for the heartland, “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Rob McClendon: Thanks for including us as a part of your day. I’m Rob McClendon. Hope to see you back here next week.