Appendix: What We Should Have Seen, Where We Go From Here
To enable the ekklesia to prayerfully anticipate the present course of civilization for the sake of strategizing bold and effective Kingdom responses across every sphere of society, I’ve compiled a brief list of possible megatrends that will dominate the next decade. This list represents a distillation of research, including excerpts, concepts and language borrowed from the latest annual forecasts generated by Deloitte (financial consulting and risk management), Frost and Sullivan (growth strategy, consulting and research) and the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies (Danish think tank), most of which has been significantly customized with my own commentary.
As churches produce solutions that anticipate and target both broad and niche manifestations of these challenges, they will be positioned to effectively minister to increasingly confused, fatigued, fearful and unstable population groups, as well as create profitable new business paradigms that capitalize on new opportunities, challenge corrupt and dangerous trends, and introduce superior solutions for governments and industry to act upon. (See last two articles HERE and HERE for immediate context, or start from the beginning with HINDSIGHT 2020).
MEGATREND CLUSTERS FOR THE NEXT DECADE
As consumers and employees demand more sustainable and ethical practices, companies respond by taking morality-based public stands on issues. Factions of social pressure will create waves of support or rejection of various brands, products and even entire industries based on the moral value of the goods and services they provide.
Autonomous World / “Skynet”
Intelligent technology systems that operate without human interference will proliferate more and more, enabling innovative business models that will promise a more efficient version of society by making humans both less necessary, and more catered to.
Web + Robot Retail Economies
Physical locations will dwindle as retail commerce moves almost entirely online. Drones will deliver goods from massive, robotically-automated distribution facilities to your doorstep, purchasable only online with cashless, increasingly restrictive digital currencies. Self-driving subscription-based vehicles will displace individual ownership, with remote satellite controlled shutdown failsafes positioned as features to prevent theft and aid in emergencies.
‘Uberization’ of Industries
Leveraging technology for aggregating and democratizing commonly held assets, combined with the idea of subscription-based services, to create new service industries. Said another way, everything-as-service, enabled by tech, will continue to reshape a variety of traditional industries. Such “shared economies” can unlock value for multiple groups, but this will massively disrupt traditional end-user, cost-of-goods-sold models.
Data as 21st Century Oil
The act of productizing data and trading it through bartering, brokering and/or business intelligence models that analyze it to offer critical insights will proliferate and produce entirely news forms of expertise and personal revenue.
Zero Latency World
The integration of 5G, edge computing and connected living to enable an ecosystem where data is shared instantaneously among people, devices and systems regardless of location or socioeconomic status.
Industry 5.0 will focus on more advanced human-machine interfaces for the sake of improved integration, allowing faster, better automation paired with the power of human brains. Early stages will pave the way for “The Singularity” and full “Transhumanism” (see “2030-2060” below).
Attention Wealth and Trust Economies
In an information economy, our attention holds greater value, leading us to be more skeptical of those who rely on spectacles to manipulate us. Trust Economies represent services and brands that will strive to replace these fears and deficits with carefully calculated products and brand positioning designed to overcome these inhibitions. Promises of identity protection and data integrity will escalate in value as ecosystems are built around trust.
Genetic, Biological and Cybernetic Engineering
Ultra-customized modifications of the human genetic code will permit increased tailoring of humanity, selecting for strength, skin color, intelligence, with additional biological and machine-based “add ons” when genetic enhancement is insufficient.
Microscopic, programmable machines will create a plethora of customizable injection solutions capable of providing health enhancements, elective physical “upgrades”, and targeting disease. These will be “live”—connected to the internet—which means they can also be hacked.
Digital Reality as Frontier Technology
Augmented Reality (AR) adds interaction to the real world with digital overlays. Virtual Reality (VR) replaces real-world environment with virtual objects. Mixed reality (MR) mixes virtual objects in the real world.
Hyperconnectivity: Interconnectedness and collective behavior
Compelling and novel opportunities of the new Digital Reality will provide access and ubiquitous connectivity anytime and anywhere, exponentially increasing the range of options for non-physical connection. Negatively, privacy, security, identity and micro-marketing will fatigue people in new ways, even as hyperconnectivity rewires the very idea of how humans connect, with a vast array of unknown psychological and sociological consequences surrounding the loss of traditional human interaction.
Cultural Recalibration to Accommodate Increasingly Heterogeneous Society
Diverse groups within normalized social strata but wildly divergent in terms of income, ethnicity, gender, age, language, generational preferences, and cultural traditions. Diversity will drive complex new customer needs and potentially bizarre free-market solutions compared to current mores.
‘Zero’ World Increases thru Combo Market Innovation + Increasing Govt. Regulation
Humanistic values empowered by technology will create unprecedented new metrics for what constitutes everything from wise family planning to social responsibility to corporate R&D. A zero concept world will strive for zero emissions, zero accidents, zero fatalities, zero birth defects, zero breaches of security, zero wars, etc.
Surveillance State, Social Metrics
Zero World (above), plus terrorism, nano-technology, next-gen military solutions, and escalating international volatility will converge to justify further erosion of privacy rights, with 24/7 monitoring of all citizens. Increasingly sophisticated and “transparent” social metric systems will create a new mode of dependence on the government for approval and permission of all activities for the sake of protection, convenience and commerce.
Era of Intelligent Assistants
A type of AI in which computational and mathematical methods are used to analyze the human language. A digital assistant can perform tasks based on verbal commands.
In the near future, reality will become an increasingly mixed experience for the end user. Virtual interactions will blur the lines of reality. Overwhelmed by technology and a sense that life is too complex, people will seek out simpler experiences that offer nostalgia and remind them of a more trustworthy time.
SOCIETAL, POLITICAL AND GOVERNMENTAL
Polarisation: Divisiveness and divergence
The populace is witnessing escalating levels of institutionalized radicalism, whether in religious terrorism, the imposition of leftist ideological dogma on public thought and behavior, or increasingly belligerent countermeasures by the right. General dissatisfaction felt by all sides of the political spectrum (economic and fiscal) is fomenting new forms of rage and hopelessness, and pushing unconvinced centrists further into extreme territory. Terrorism of thought is the invisible new enemy of civilization.
Disengagement: Evolving ways we communicate and interact
The dark side of hyperconnectivity is disengagement, as the very idea of “friendship” and relationship is redefined by the glow of smartphones of people sitting in the same room. Communication by emoji and texting shorthand threatens to vastly reduce the human vocabulary, with derivative loss of emotional range. Business and government will capitalize on disengagement for their own agendas.
Negative Leverage: Utilizing crises to exert more authoritarian controls for “the public good”
The brittleness and possible irreparability of economic systems, combined with massive and growing distrust of core institutions, including government, media and the church, the challenges of polarization, threats of physical terrorism, rioting and social upheaval, identity theft and the consequences of unprecedented joblessness, will combine with many other factors to increasingly prime the public to trade personal liberty for the convenience and reassurance of safety and protection from the government.
The New Human: A Transhumanism Movement (Matt. 24:15)
Converging forces of antichrist ideologies, human hatred of God, demonic hatred of the image of God in humanity, and astonishing technological advancements, will all converge to reshape and redefine not only the human experience, but the existence of humanity as a species, including how humans will look, think, behave, experience, relate, procreate, and perform.