Technological advancements are pushing forward a massive societal shift that impacts both people and business around the world; while internet access is transforming personal daily routines, opening ways to interact with others, and improving quality of life; companies are automating and standardizing complicated tasks, reducing production costs, and reaching new markets.
The Technology Tipping Points and Societal Impact survey by the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software and Society, part of the World Economic Forum, surveyed over 800 experts from the information and communications technology sector to understand the breakthroughs that will disrupt the next decade and how the future will look. The report identified six megatrends that are shaping society, together with their opportunities and risks:
- The Internet of Things (IoT): smarter, smaller, and cheaper sensors are all around connecting everything to the Internet: in homes, cities, transports, and energy networks; also in clothes and accessories, and manufacturing processes too.
- Computing, Communications, and Storage everywhere: ubiquitous computing (powered by the growth of the Internet access and leverage, combined with the decline in size and cost of hardware) is allowing everyone to access pocket-sized supercomputers with nearly unlimited storage capacity.
- People and the Internet: a combination of innovative technologies are enhancing the "digital presence" of people, allowing them to connect and interact with others while transforming the world around by using wearables and implantable technologies.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data: uber-connected devices are producing exponential digitization and data about everyone and everything that sophisticated software is using to address complex problems while learning and evolving itself.
- Sharing Economy and Distributed Trust: assets are shared through networks and disruptive platform-based social and economic models using the Internet, creating new efficiencies and opportunities for social self-organization.
- The Blockchain: cryptography-based database replacing the need for third-party institutions, providing trust for financial, contracts, and voting activities.
- The Digitization of Matter: physical objects are “printed” from raw materials using additive or 3D-printing processes, transforming industrial manufacturing and opening new doors for human opportunities.
The World Economic forum used those megatrends to summarize all the insights into seven technology tipping points with the biggest impact reachable by 2030:
1. Robots and their imminent influence on jobs
2. Sensors connecting everything
3. Medical industry using 3D printing solutions
4. Internet becoming a human right
5. Mobile and implanted devices
6. Autonomous Vehicles and Car-Sharing economy
7. Artificial Intelligence powered by Big Data and Machine Learning
The huge potential of the seamless integration of physical and digital worlds through embedded hardware & software and networked sensors & actuators are accelerating both the Digital Connectivity (of everyone to everything, anywhere and at any time) and the technologies for analyzing and using the gathered data. Being prepared to navigate the disruption starts with awareness of the shifts to come and understand the implications of the technologies that will disrupt the next decade.