As the rapid advancement of technology has resulted in headlines describing inequality and climate change, most experts see the next decade as being quite tumultuous.
However, a new analysis indicates that it may even make or break society altogether.
Same old story?
The notion of humanity staring into a world-ending abyss is nothing new. After all, weren’t we told 20 years ago that the world would end in 20 years?
However, we have witnessed a Fourth Industrial Revolution that has created technologies such as robotics, AI, gene editing, and 3D printing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that these things are very capable of causing very dramatic economic, social, and political changes in the very near future.
Views of a think tank
According to a think tank called RethinkX, it is way too simplistic to view the upcoming transition as merely another industrial revolution. In their recent entitled ‘Rethinking Humanity,’ the authors claim society is going to witness a complete reordering of relationships throughout the world. Such a process will be synonymous with when hunter-gatherers evolve into agricultural civilizations.
The centerpiece of their claim is based on how the very first large human settlements developed the ability to exploit natural resources – such as food, minerals, and materials. These actions cultivated a competitive landscape where governing principles were to either grow or perish – an instinct that has driven all of humankind since that time.
Altering paths that have existed for thousands of years
Moving forward, it is believed that current views are going to change this age-old pattern because of emerging technologies. The think-tankers see an upcoming disruption in the five foundations of society. Those are energy, food, information, materials, and transportation.
These experts believe that the cost of these five entities will fall tenfold or even more, while production will become ten times more efficient. Furthermore, these processes will use 90% fewer resources with perhaps 100 times less waste.
Changes are already baked into the cake
The think tank also claims that this inevitability has already taken place in the form of public and online information. Thanks to the internet, knowledge and communication barriers have been effectively smashed.
They believe the combination of both cheap solar power and grid storage will cause energy costs to plummet, as well as widespread usage of autonomous electric vehicles. Car ownership will also fall in favor of ride-sharing.
These thinkers revealed their future vision for food supply in a separate report. They see traditional agriculture getting totally replaced by an industrial-scale creation of single-celled organisms that are genetically crafted to supply all the nutrients that people need.
Similarly, they believe that industrial processes when combined with nanotechnologies will lead to the creation of materials needed for the modern world. Such material will be built from the molecule level up instead of burning up Earth’s natural resources.
Such a world would be one built on creation rather than extraction and exploitation. Renewable energy would be endless and limitless. Virtually every known barrier in our world would be dissolved.
New visions must be embraced
Such a world needs to be envisioned by its majority to materialize. Every great civilization throughout history has experienced limitations in its growth, and present-day societies are no different. Today, the biggest growth limits exist in the form of scarce resource shortages and a concentration of the world’s wealth and power.
Historically, limitations have been addressed with temporary short-term gains – resolutions that have greatly benefited elites and merely appeased the masses in the long term. This mindless cycle needs to end.
Opportunity to challenge the status quo
The think-tankers believe the world is in a very unique and fortunate position. One that very few generations ever experience.
The ongoing disruption of emerging technologies has given us the opportunity to break through the lingering societal limitations on growth. However, the only way to capitalize is through an organizing system. This means modifying existing models of thought, values, myths, belief systems, and conceptual frameworks that determine our perception of how the world works.
They also stress that the existing centralized, hierarchical system based on nation-states is not compatible with the emerging system of production. The cracks are already appearing. This is painfully obvious with fake news, disinformation campaigns, and a rapidly growing polarization – all designed to cover up the fact that our institutions are incapable of addressing today’s information systems.
Do or die once again
Just like the dilemma that our hunter-gathering ancestors had to face, we are facing the same do-or-die situation. Should society try to maintain its present speed and course, many trends indicate a collapse of the world we know it today.
The only saving grace would be a hard shift toward reorganizing the order of the world – or at least enough of the world to save its collapse.
This is a tall order because most humans are not quick to embrace change – even those who claim “change is good.” If you ever noticed, those are the people who have usually benefited from the said change.
Let’s see how they feel about the one that is coming.