By 2050 there will be 9 billion people to feed, clothe, transport, employ and educate. We’re committed to a growth-driven world economy that must inflate for centuries, supplying limitless consumption to everyone. With new tech, could we add a digital world that helps everyone succeed and prosper while working together? Could we become a successful world where greatness is normal?
Here’s the good news: digital devices have made your life better. Here’s the bad news: although incredibly cool, devices are still in early stages of development. Maybe that’s not really bad, when you think of what’s coming next.
Until now, the devices you’ve had in your hands and on your desks have offered quite both usefulness and fun. But you couldn’t call it a fully digital world yet. It’s not even close.
There are limitations. You switch on your gadgets and wait. Or you have to find the app you want and wait for it. They might have an operating system whose principles you have to follow. They allow you a little creativity, but only a little.
Then your apps or data might not work with another device that you bought, say, last week, or last year. The last time you saw a friend with a new device you don’t have, could theirs be better? Maybe!
Clearly, there is room to dream about new technology.
There’s room to dream about building the world we want, instead of the one we’re turning into.
Powerful problems drive powerful dreams
We have reached greatness, but the magnificent size of our successes will be matched by the size of our growing Crisis of Success. By 2050 there will be 9 billion people to feed, clothe, transport, employ, educate and entertain.
Billions are committed to a growth-driven world economy they expect to inflate for centuries to come. As we pursue unlimited growth, our limitless consumption threatens to crowd out everything else on Earth. We are warming the climate, overspending our financial resources, requiring more fresh water than we have, increasing income inequality, diminishing other species and triggering shockwaves whenever we can’t cope with a problem.
Billions of people are at the “bottom” of the economy. The middle class is declining in advanced societies. Youth underemployment is epidemic in many countries. The forecast is for billions to remain stuck for their whole lives.
Many no longer believe today’s leaders can improve this, though today’s leaders are increasing their power and digital surveillance. Leaders want new options as much as everyone else.
Clearly, there is room to dream about a more successful world along with new technology.
by Dan Abelow
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