CHANGING THE GAME
It becomes clear that human activity shapes the earth’s systems. On the one hand this leaves us with a very dark viewpoint on humanity as we seem to blindly move down a path of destruction. This raises the question ‘responsibility’ and is accompanied by a sense of taking action. On the other hand the Anthropocene signals a sense of recognition and moral ownership of our transformative power. The Anthropocene not only reflects our influence on the ecological systems of the earth but more so serves as a metaphor for the way we see our human-nature relationship.
The world is facing unprecedented challenges to a healthy and sustainable future. Habitat destruction, invasive species, and overexploitation are contributing to immense biodiversity loss, climate change to name a few. Unsustainable, extractive industry practices further burden the environment, and by extension, human welfare.
THE DECADE AHEAD
In the decade ahead, waves of exponential technological advancements are stacking atop one another, eclipsing decades of breakthroughs in scale and impact. Emerging from these waves are technologies and trends that are likely to revolutionize entire industries (old and new), redefine tomorrow’s generation of businesses and contemporary challenges, and transform our society and livelihoods from the bottom-up.
Among these are augmented human longevity, the surging smart economy, AI-human collaboration, augmented and mixed reality, and high-bandwidth brain-computer interfaces, just to name a few.
The relationship between technology on the one hand and economy and society on the other is not uni-directional. Not only does technological progress result in the continuous change of economic and social structures, but the latter, including the evolution of attitudes and values, has at the same time a major impact on the direction and the speed of technology development. The industrial society of today, characterized by mass production, mass consumption and mass government, is in many ways a complex incarnation of the technologies of the 20th century. A decade from now, intelligent technology will in all probability have penetrated every aspect of human activity. Once again, the interaction between the evolution of technology and the development of economy and society will have led to profound changes with regard to when, where and how people work, play and rest; to how, where and what people consume and produce; and to when, where and how they interact with other people, with business, social organizations or government.
There is no doubt that the profound change in political, economic and social structures has provided the conditions to enable the transition to a new paradigm.
Throughout history, there have been several transformations that drastically changed our societal realities. We can define different stages of societies. We transformed from hunter-gatherer societies (Society 1.0), agrarian societies (Society 2.0), industrial societies (Society 3.0) to an information society at the end of the 20th century (Society 4.0). These societies were formed by system transformations, think about the light industry and mechanization, followed by mass production, heavy and chemical industry and electrical energy, and computers, internet and automation. Society 4.0 was mostly concerned with the role of computers in control of enterprises, regarding methods and means of industrial automation of plants and factories which passed the way from use of sensors and automation of technological processes. And although Society 4.0 is in the initial stage of development and the main achievements are expected not earlier than 2020-2025, the image of a new paradigm of Society 5.0 is already in sight. Society 5.0 is the super smart society that lies just around the corner. It is a human-centered society that balances economic advantages with resolving social issues by a system that integrates cyberspace and physical space.
More specifically, it expands Industry 4.0 pursuit of an integration between technology, virtual space and the human being, between the real world and the virtual world. In future societies, human beings and their natural and artificial environments will thus become melded at multiple temporal and spatial scales to create cognitive cooperative systems and human-technology partnerships. Characterized by their reliance on embedded, decentralized, real-time computation occurring within a network of heterogeneous physical objects.
‘CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT…’
Heraclitus might have been talking about communities when he said this in ancient Greece. For contemporary communities around the world, each situated in a distinct social-ecological context and each with their own histories and visions for the future, anthropogenic change is occurring with increasing rapidity, complexity and uncontrollability. The drivers of these changes occur at different scales and speeds and include environmental, climatic, economic, technological, sociocultural, demographic and governance factors. Our society has and will become even faster highly dynamic, volatile and a-linear: relational, adaptive, dynamic, open, contextually determined and emerges through complex causality.
Resuming the for mentioned; technological change has been reshaping human life and work for centuries. The mechanization that began with the Industrial Revolution enabled dramatic improvements in human health, well-being, and quality of life—not only in the developed countries of the West, but increasingly throughout the world. At the same time, economic and social disruptions often accompanied those changes, with painful and lasting results for workers, their families, and communities. Along the way, valuable skills, industries, and ways of life were lost. Ultimately new and unforeseen occupations, industries, and amenities took their place. But the benefits of these upheavals often took decades to arrive. And the eventual beneficiaries were not necessarily those who bore the initial costs.
The world now stands on the cusp of a technological revolution in artificial intelligence and robotics that may prove as transformative for economic growth and human potential.