What will the future look like in five years? ten years? A Davos roundtable this January enlightened our minds on the unmistakable tipping points that will shape human history in the near future. For that, it was necessary to have multiple angle views from artists, activists, business people and politicians. In a nutshell, there are some core issues that will structure the depth and scope of the future.
First, artificial intelligence and robotics will bend the technology curve, and hopefully well-being with it. The fast advances in technology dissemination and adoption will help governments serve the weakest stakeholders, often un(under)represented in major economic and policy making events. Education, health, business, and society will all see a shift in operational models, processes and aims. The job market will transform in an unprecedented way, making new forms of human-machine interaction take place in a difficult-to-predict fashion. If these changes and challenges are unquestionably upcoming, a central question is to be carefully considered: How prepared are we to make the best use of our human intelligence to ‘tame the dragon’ and maximize the net benefit of robot intelligence?
The second aspect pertains to the biosphere. In 2050, it is predicted that there will be more plastic bottles in the ocean than fish! Today, every second, an acre of forest is lost to human activity. Continuing to do ‘business as usual’ can only compromise the future of species on earth, and our future with it. New paradigms are to be defined and placed at the core strategies of private corporations and public organizations alike.
The third point is about time. As brilliant Christiana Figueres put it: “The future is now”. We have no choice but to move towards a transnational consensus whereby people and planet are put at the heart of business and politics. We need to collaboratively design frameworks at national and international levels to allow technology, ideas, governance modes and business models to fluidly cross borders and enable sustainable and inclusive growth in the least advantaged regions of the world. Because the stakes are high, failing to do so would mean irreversible consequences.
But here is the good piece of news: all analysts contend that while the next five years will be a ‘bumpy’ road of uncertainties, challenges and distress, in ten years, the world will have comprehended the good lessons and will have moved towards a more stable, more sustainable living. Because we have no choice or because of collective wisdom –the result here being more important that the cause– we will have mastered the tools and approaches for making the transition to the safe world we want to leave to future generations.