Six Supertrends Shaping the Future
Technological growth is one of the six super-trends; however it is not just a super-trend, it is a super-force that creates accelerating changes with massive effects and disruptive power. One of the more obvious super-trends produced by technological advancements is economic growth. Better technologies make it possible to produce more goods and services at a much cheaper cost. Today, techno-economical growth is producing new goods and services at an increasing pace. However, the other four shifts require brought by techno-economic growth require merit and special attention as well. They are both super-trends and super-forces, because they bring about other forces and changes in turn.
These four supertrends are: improving human health, increasing mobility, environmental decline, and increasing deculturalization. Identifying shifts such as these is paramount, because we are viewing the world from a global, long-term perspective. At various places at various times, it is possible that these global trends could reverse themselves, and operate faster or slower depending on the region one decides to analyze.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0470710144″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51-pRqBuqwL._SL160_.jpg” width=”103″]We now have a total of six supertrends to use as tools for evaluating technological change in the twenty-first century. Each one of these qualifies as a supertrend because it summarizes a key category of change and acts as a key factor in human life and development today.
These supertrends can be analyzed by in individual components that make them a supertrend. However, here we are looking a macro view of our six supertrends and over-laying it on top of technological laws to see how it is shaping the world now, and how it might shape the future.
Supertrend One: Technological progress is encompassing of all improvements being made in computers, medicine, transportation, and other technologies and useful knowledge that enables humans to achieve our goals in the most efficient manner. As humans, we are neurologically wired to think about growth in a linear fashion. However, as we learned from Technological Change and Exponential Growth we need to force ourselves to think in terms of exponential growth, and what ways this could affect new and emerging technologies, such as, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and quantum computing.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B000FMVKSE” locale=”us” height=”120″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41%2BEcpTlLVL._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″]Supertrend two: Economic growth – as we discussed, technological growth facilitates economic growth.
Supertrend three: Improving health – With supertrend one and two – combined human living conditions have dramatically improved from the 1900’s to today. With improving health, we have more people with extended longevity who are living long into retirement. For instance, population soared in 1820-1992 from over 1 billion to nearly 5.5 billion.
Supertrend four: Increased mobility- People, goods, and information move from place to place. Increased mobility leads to increased globalization and travel. Some futurists believe that tourism may become the world’s largest industry during the twenty-first century, if terrorism and violence are kept controlled.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B005XVBIL6″ locale=”us” height=”107″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41hg69HRO5L._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″]Super Trend five: Environmental decline is continuing because the more population increases, the more goods and services will be needed not only to sustain raising populations, but to continue stable economic growth.
Super Trend six: Increasing Deculturation (loss of Traditional Culture) – We experience de-cultutration when people speak a language or do things that we do not understand.
By understanding these supertrends and the laws of technological growth, we can establish scenarios in the world by as soon as 2040 to create alternative futures, and see how the world might change due to these trends and laws.
Stages in Technology and Society
Unlike biological systems, technologies do not evolve in a formulaic manner. However, there are certain stages of technological growth, and these stages are:
- Scientific findings
- Laboratory feasibility
- Operating prototype
- Commercial introduction or operational use
- Widespread adoption
- Diffusion to other areas
- Social and economic impact
By knowing and understanding these stages of technological development, we can start to recognize where along a certain technology is on the developmental stage, and prepare accordingly for the expected scenario that we developed for the most foreseeable future.
Editor’s Note: ‘Methods for Futuring’ is a four piece article. Read Part Four here.
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