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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

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

People are already using ChatGPT to create workout plans

Fitness advice from OpenAI’s large language model is impressively presented—but don’t take it too seriously.

I just watched Biggie Smalls perform ‘live’ in the metaverse

An avatar of the singer, who died in 1997, performed with live rappers on Meta’s Horizon Worlds.

Why my bittersweet relationship with Shein had to end

Reflecting on my desire for Chinese-style e-commerce platforms.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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