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The world has experienced large-scale shocks, amongst them, the election of Donald Trump and the UK vote on departure from the EU. Rohit Talwar and the team at Fast Future contend that whilst we may accept these shocks as the new normal preparing for shocks is important whether as individuals, society, governments, or businesses. And they believe –many can be anticipated.

 

They have selected five shocks from their forthcoming book 500 Futures that could have a truly transformative impact on life, society, government, the economy, and business.

Political/Economic

  1. Techlash – Global Society Rebels Against the Machine?

As the pace of development accelerates in artificial intelligence (AI) and other disruptive technologies such as blockchain, we may see a technological backlash as those affected rage against the machine. Technologies such as AI and robotics are already beginning to replace humans in significant numbers and will undoubtedly continue to do so. The hope is that new industries and the reskilling of the workforce will mean that eventually even more jobs will be created. However, there could be a significant time lag between redundancy, retraining, and the rise of the new opportunities.

  1. The End of World Hunger Within a Decade?

A number of critical developments are coming together which could bring about the end of world hunger. A combination of technological advances in managing the food chain coupled with tighter regulation, more effective food recirculation schemes, and a growing business commitment to be more sustainable could yield a dramatic reduction in the estimated 40 per cent of fresh food that currently goes to waste globally.

The process has already started, and the members of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), including Nestlé and Unilever, have committed to halving food waste in the next decade. As a result, the cost of food should also decline, and the ecological impact of food supply chains would be reduced significantly.

  1. Manual Cars Banned from City Centers?

The days of taking a drive into busy city centers could be numbered. With the transition to electric car, the precedent was set to accept new technologies in personal transport. Electric cars sought to keep people safe from polluting petrol and diesel engines, and the promise of autonomous cars is to eliminate human error; the major cause of road traffic accidents and the resulting injuries and deaths. With the development of artificial intelligence in vehicles and the connectivity with traffic signals, city authorities might begin to ban manually driven cars from city centers, almost totally eliminating accidents.

Techno-Societal

  1. A More Caring Society Courtesy of the Empathy Internet?

By 2025, the internet could evolve into a multi-sensory environment which helps bring about a shift in our behaviours because we can literally feel the impact of our words and actions on others. Futurist Michio Kaku predicts that by 2025 “we will see the gradual transition from an Internet to a brain-net, in which thoughts, emotions, feelings, and memories might be transmitted instantly across the planet… Perhaps even tensions between people will diminish, as people begin to feel and experience the pain of others.” If this occurred, it could provide the jolt of empathy needed for the human species to elect for cooperative survival. This may be a life-saving shock for the planet.

  1. Unplugging: The Off-Grid Holiday?

The rise in workplace stress, and the pressures of 24/7 availability for the modern employee, could see employers, doctors, and even the state mandating that people deliberately take an unplugged break to rediscover and rejuvenate themselves. The desire for privacy and the need to unplug and go ‘off grid’ are also likely to grow as we become ever-more deeply enmeshed in the matrix of always-on, ever-present digitally enabled objects and sensors that connect and monitor humans virtually.

Today, some retreats offer Wi-Fi-free zones as an amenity, others promote themselves as a tech-free haven. In the near future, guaranteed off-the-grid, fully disconnected ‘sanctuaries’ may become the next hottest vacation destination to escape the fast paced, constantly observed modern lifestyle. Governments might be forced to act to mandate such breaks because of the rising costs to society of poor mental health, and the potential loss of tax revenues from people who take long-term sick leave, or simply quit their jobs due to stress.

These shocks may be the new normal.  We can anticipate, prepare and live in a new world both in business and our daily lives.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

The authors are futurists with Fast Future – a professional foresight firm specializing in delivering keynote speeches, executive education, research, and consulting on the emerging future and the impacts of change for global clients. Fast Future publishes books from leading future thinkers around the world, exploring how developments such as AI, robotics, exponential technologies, and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, societies, businesses, and governments and create the trillion-dollar sectors of the future. Fast Future has a particular focus on ensuring these advances are harnessed to unleash individual potential and enable a very human future. See: www.fastfuture.com