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Humans and technology

Five forces that will shape the future

These are the big trends of the coming decades that need to be considered for any new technologies to be successful.
February 26, 2020

 

US wealth gap

Since 2007 the bottom 50% has had zero or negative wealth (i.e., debt).

1980 

  • Top 10% of people: 65% of wealth
  • Middle 40% of people: 34% of wealth
  • Bottom 50% of people: .01% of wealth

2014

  • Top 10% of people: 73% of wealth
  • Middle 40% of people: 27% of wealth

Source: World Inequality Database (2018)


Data explosion

We’re going to need better storage, processing, and privacy.

bar chart

Source: IDC Research, The Digitization of the World. From Edge to Core. (2018)


Rise in average global temperatures

As surface temperatures increase, so will sea levels, extreme storms, and habitat disruption.

thermometer showing temperature rise

Source: NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Climate at a Glance (2020)


Language extinction

From 1950 to 2010, 230 languages went extinct. Today, a third of the world’s languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers left.

Source: UNESCO World Language Atlas (2010); Ethnologue: Languages of the World (2019)


An older population

Today, 9% of the global population is over 65. That’s going to grow in the next decades, redefining work, health care, and our economy.

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). 

Deep Dive

Humans and technology

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

The 1,000 Chinese SpaceX engineers who never existed

LinkedIn users are being scammed of millions of dollars by fake connections posing as graduates of prestigious universities and employees at top tech companies.

Social media is polluting society. Moderation alone won’t fix the problem

Companies already have the systems in place that are needed to evaluate their deeper impacts on the social fabric.

The fight for “Instagram face”

Meta banned filters that “encourage plastic surgery,” but a massive demand for beauty augmentation on social media is complicating matters.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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