Futurist tells Steamboat audience new technologies will be key for job growth | SteamboatToday.com

Futurist tells Steamboat audience new technologies will be key for job growth

Futurist Thomas Frey speaks to attendees of the Steamboat Springs Economic Summit on Friday at Colorado Mountain College.

— Futurist Thomas Frey on Friday took an audience of Steamboat Springs business leaders into a future where 3-D printers are printing clothes and food, cars no longer need drivers and drones deliver packages.

Sound farfetched?

Frey doesn’t think so.

"Every major car company has a driverless department right now," Frey said.

He predicted these technologies and other major advances are not too far away from being adopted, and he urged that business leaders should focus on what’s coming next, not what has happened before.

His speech was the keynote for Steamboat’s 20th Economic Summit, and it left the audience with plenty of things to think over.

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Frey brought attention to several pieces of technology that seem more like dreams in today’s world.

How many people have thought of using a large 3-D printer to print out the concrete foundation of a home?

But for each idea, Frey provided examples of companies and entrepreneurs who actually are starting to do things like that.

In between all of the futuristic examples, Frey was making some broader point to the audience.

He said technology is nixing jobs left and right, but it also holds the potential to create more jobs than it erases.

"The fastest way to create new jobs is to automate the old ones out of existence," Frey said.

He also urged the business owners to look ahead at what’s coming next when they make business decisions.

Audience members Kate Nowak, the head of Routt County United Way, and Marsha Daughenbaugh, the head of the Community Agriculture Alliance, walked away impressed with the glimpse into the future and the entire Economic Summit in general.

"These technologies could lead to answers to problems we’ve got with things like water and food," Daughenbaugh said. "It’s exciting to think about."

There were a number of futuristic items Frey mentioned that may be particularly welcome in a place like Steamboat Springs.

Frey predicted that someday, drones using infrared scanners could help to eliminate the problem of wildfires by spotting them immediately when they start.

And on the water front, Frey touted a range of devices being developed that capture gallons of water from the atmosphere.

One piece of technology is a self-filling water bottle that sucks in moisture from the atmosphere to create condensation and fill the bottle.

Hikers in the mountain might find a device like that nifty in an emergency.

Frey’s speech capped the end of what some people in the audience were hailing as one of the best Economic Summits they’ve attended in Steamboat.

Summit attendees also got a briefing on Steamboat’s economic recovery compared to other mountain towns.

Look for a story on the other talks at Steamboat’s Economic Summit on Sunday in the business section of the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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