10 trends that will define our way of living for the next 100 years
In the coming century we will accomplish more together as a people than the preceding million years put together, and chart out a new course for the human race.
This future that we are imagining for ourselves in the next 100 or 200 years is so different that it’s completely disconnected from our current way of life. Each of the Four Industrial Revolutions has only accelerated change and at this pace we might finally be able to evolve into a Type 1 Civilization during this period. However, until then these are the ten mega trends that will be shaping our world, and defining the new social normal.
1. Automation of Skilled Jobs
In case you missed it… The chatbots are here!
And they’re already starting to perform several of the repetitive and menial tasks that drain our productivity. As with most digital technologies, chatbot dexterity and usage will follow an exponential rise and over time the last stronghold of everyday human mediocrity — skilled jobs — will fall.
When machines learn to do our work what will we do next?
The vast majority of humanity will have to grapple with this and a whole host of other existential questions, and hopefully we will soon learn to separate our purpose and sense of self-esteem from our occupation.
2. Emergence of a Global Creative Economy
A major consequence of the automation trend will be the rise of the global creative economy. This will primarily be driven out of necessity since there will be immediate job losses coupled with stagnant job growth in the short term as organizations recalibrate themselves. However, individuals will also be able to double down on productivity, develop super specialities or pursue their passions altogether. This phenomenon will usher in the age of mastery where performance standards peak and full-time jobs remain sparse.
In addition to this, the age of mastery will emphasize the intrinsic value of humarithms versus algorithms in a period when our reliance on machines would be unparalleled. Machines have always been better than humans at several functions and as their capabilities have grown so has this set. This trend has allowed humans thus far to focus on non-mechanical functions and this will only accelerate in the future.
3. Migration from Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy
Fire made us human, fossil fuels made us modern, but now we need a new fire that makes us safe, secure, healthy and durable.
— Amory Lovins
Our dependence on fossil fuels has always been an economic decision and with the crash in solar panel prices and those of other clean technologies, their adoption has been brought forward by several decades. This modern energy ecosystem will allow for instantaneous storage and transfer globally and have massive consequences for climate change, pollution and health. It will also provide an opportunity for a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem to support development of the network and serve as many people as possible.
4. Evolution towards Perfect Information Systems
Imagine a world where every single object is not only connected but aware of each other so much so that it is capable of constant communication and synergy across distance, time, context and purpose. This environment is the exact manifestation of a Perfect Information System (PIS) at work.
A PIS satisfies the following control conditions at all points of time —
1. All information is made immediately available on a real-time basis.
2. All information is semantically structured and immediately searchable.
3. All information sources are interconnected and aware of each other.
4. Collective intelligence and insight is built up by a continuous learning engine.
Consequently, the arrival of a PIS will enable 3 key subtrends to break out —
Smart Cities and Nations
True Artificial Intelligence
The Technological Singularity
5. Era of Abundance
What happens when abundance is so pervasive and ubiquitous that the cost of all our needs becomes zero?
The next century will see us realize true abundance which will play a critical role in unlocking our transhuman capabilities. A significant mental shift will be required to undergo this transformation but that process will be aided by the unlimited and instantaneous availability of the following resources —
We would be able to harness and store almost the entire energy of the sun at any given time and this would result in energy becoming a zero marginal cost resource akin to other products of the digital economy.
Biological computing and Quantum computing are some of the technologies that will not only make the singularity possible but power modern marvels such as mixed reality, drug discovery, autonomous vehicles, etc.
The internet has been around since 1968 and although its current reach is astonishing, only 49% of the world’s population has ever had access to it. The investment needed to involve the rest of humanity will be reframed as opportunity cost rather than sunk cost because in this particular race to zero most of the economic and social upside is reserved for activity not access.
As internet connectivity becomes cheaper and cheaper so will storage costs plummet since their unit economics are strongly correlated. We are already witnessing the beginning of this trend since costs are currently as low as $.024/GB and will reach $.001/GB if not lower in under 2 years.
6. Universal Access and Evolution
Old power structures survive on the basis of self-selection and thrive when access is privileged. New power structures on the other hand fundamentally require universal access and complete transparency to fully function. Thus all resources will need to be made available to everyone and follow a specific evolution pattern if significant progress is desired in the modern world.
1. Near Term Affordability → Free in Perpetuity → Unlimited Coverage
2. Tech Enabled Physical Access → Digital First Environment
3. Non-traditional Methodologies → Personalized Learning → Iterative Upskilling
1. Near Term Affordability → Free in Perpetuity → Unlimited Coverage
2. Affordable Insurance → Unlimited Coverage
3. Robo Verification → Human Machine Diagnosis → Personalized Medicine
1. Reuse Food Waste → Food Redistribution
2. Natural Nutrition → Synthetic Nutrition
3. Necessity → Human Right
1. Global Movement → Neo-Nomadic Lifestyle → Distributed Ownership
2. Low Cost Shelters → Affordable Housing → Eco Friendly Spaces
3. Studios → Micro Apartments → Pods
1. Zero Rating Systems → Fall of Walled Gardens → Open Internet
2. Free in Perpetuity → Unlimited Coverage
3. Bandwidth Growth → Unlimited Usage
1. Shift to Clean Energy → Near Term Affordability → Free in Perpetuity
2. Concentrated Production → Smart Grids → Glocal Arbitrage
3. Smart Grids → Energy Storage → Global Supply and Demand
1. Tapered Social Welfare → Cash Subsidies → Basic Universal Income
2. Phased Extensions → Unlimited Coverage
3. Shadow Economy → Digital Economy → Cash Free Society
7. The Healthcare Revolutions
The upcoming century will see unprecedented progress in healthcare thanks to support from the digital and physical sciences. It will be for the first time that machines play a leading role in all spheres of human health. And of the numerous milestones from this era, the following three will be nothing short of revolutions that will permanently alter the notion of life for our species.
The average life expectancy of a human is 71 years right now and this will rise dramatically in the next few decades as we attempt to push towards the 200 years mark. Historical trends support the possibility of this while digital intervention will accelerate longevity escape velocity to make it viable in our lifetime or those of our children. Thus, at that point every year of medical research will directly result in more than a year of additional life expectancy.
Conscious Human Evolution
At some point the trend of extra sensory implants will become mainstream so much so that complete human-machine convergence is all but inevitable. This ability to choose how we as individuals and as a species evolve going forward is monumental and will have unimaginable consequences in every realm of human activity. However, once we do cross that threshold these mutations will only accelerate and obscure our definition of humanity which would need to be constantly altered to accomodate alien elements.
Preservation of Human Consciousness
Mortality is the final battleground for humanity.
We have kept challenging death for as long as we have existed and though we may never entirely succeed, I believe we will be able to trick our minds into a state of perpetual existence within the next century. Deterioration of the human body is a natural and probably irreversible phenomenon and so our consciousness or mental manifestation is the only immortal aspect of our being. Thus efforts to preserve it on an alternate medium such as a machine are credible and will be eventually successful, again redefining what it means to be human in the 22nd century.
8. Stagnation and Shrinkage of Human Population
We are currently estimated to be 7.4 Billion people and should hit that 11 Billion mark by 2100. However, I believe that the total maximum population will start tapering after that point and never exceed 12 Billion. This is the most likely scenario because a significant part of the world would have been developed by then which would lead to increased contraceptive use, lower infant mortality rates, higher education standards, and an overall better quality of life resulting in a declining birth rate. This coupled with natural population control triggers such as epidemics, mutations and environmental disasters would establish a long-term equilibrium closer to 10 Billion people.
9. Interplanetary Travel and Colonization
Earth is our only home for now but it won’t be for too much longer. As human society evolves, interplanetary travel and colonization is becoming more and more realistic with Mars being the obvious first choice. NASA in fact is planning for earth independent settlements on Mars as soon as 2030.
As we learn to harness the entire energy of our sun we will be able to tackle issues surrounding interstellar travel particularly photonic propulsion, deep-space human hibernation and syntehtic nutrition so that we can reach and eventually inhabit planets outside our solar system.
10. The Rise of Semi-Humans
The rise of semi-humans will be a two-sided phenomenon.
Humans will first choose to add machine elements to aid their evolutionary choices, and then as machines inch closer to becoming sentient beings they will incorporate synthetic human elements in their desire to culturally and socially integrate with humans. This bidirectional phenomenon will further increase in complexity and nuance when the two will naturally attempt to procreate and the topic of semi-human or human-machine rights emerges.
Author: Sartaj Anand
Sartaj is a Parallel Entrepreneur with an unreasonable dream to positively impact 1 Billion human lives within his lifetime. He currently runs a boutique consulting firm — Egomonk, focused on Innovation and Strategy, and has travelled, worked and co-created in more than 40 countries so far.