Urban & Regional Economist, Futurist.
Adjunct Professor Tony Sorensen, FIAG, FRAI
Although professionally an urban and regional economist, Tony is also a futurist who foresees massive economic and social disruption over the next two decades driven by a tsunami of new technologies in such fields as AI, robotics, big data, quantum computing, the internet of things, bio-technology, 3-D printing, driverless vehicles, alternative energies, and financial instruments like blockchain. These are harbingers of what has been termed the Second Machine Age – in effect a multi-faceted new paradigm in human history. He is also fascinated by such physical sciences as quantum mechanics, superconductivity, evolutionary biology, and plate tectonics. This fascination dates back 50 years to the time when he first programmed computers to calculate the negative binomial and double poisson probability distributions. He is currently a member of an expert panel advising the House of Representatives Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation and also a Fellow of the Regional Australia Institute. In both capacities he is focusing on how rural Australia and its service centres might re-define their community and business cultures to seize the multitude of business opportunities that lie ahead, provide high quality and up-to-date infrastructure, and foster the high quality amenity that’s so essential for retaining young and highly educated entrepreneurs. Since technology may well damage places less able to attract investment in new technologies, it will become equally important to re-skill and potentially relocate people whose lose their current jobs. Successful pursuit of both these tasks requires whole-of-community participation in focusing on transformative technologies, active inter-personal networking to identify and pursue opportunities arising, developing sources of venture capital, and high quality leadership coming from many different directions all working together in common cause. This includes local government; business organisations including, but not exclusive to, Chambers of Commerce; a mass of community based organisations; and prominent individuals.