Skip to Content
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

anti-choice surveillance tactics
anti-choice surveillance tactics

Anti-abortion activists are collecting the data they’ll need for prosecutions post-Roe

Body cams and license plates are already being used to track people arriving at abortion clinics.

Chinese livestreamer and beauty influencer Li Jiaqi, also known as "king of lipstick," is seen in a subway station in Shanghai
Chinese livestreamer and beauty influencer Li Jiaqi, also known as "king of lipstick," is seen in a subway station in Shanghai

How China’s biggest online influencers fell from their thrones

Three top livestreaming personalities on the platform Taobao commanded legions of fans who bought billions of dollars’ worth of goods—until they suddenly went dark.

animal crossing concepts
animal crossing concepts

Inside the experimental world of animal infrastructure

Wildlife crossings cut down on roadkill. But are they really a boon for conservation?

chore apps haven't helped overworked moms concept
chore apps haven't helped overworked moms concept

Chore apps were meant to make mothers’ lives easier. They often don’t.

Rather than reducing the burden of housework, they tend to become yet another thing to worry about

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.