What are the underlying forces at work in the 2020’s?
We identified 28 underlying forces in three categories. The first is innovation: Big Data, artificial intelligence, robotics, cybersecurity, privacy, genomics, all that stuff. Second is people: aging, silver economy, Gen Z, Gen Y, millennials, education, inequality, everything that has to do with demographics. Third is Earth—everything having to do with our planet: climate change, food security, water, waste, renewable energy, energy storage.
What is long term now?
These megatrends are five to 10 years down the line. One of the words we keep using is “techceleration”—accelerated growth rates led by technology. It took 64 years for 50 million people to use airplanes. For cars, 62 years. For Pokémon Go, 19 days. By the end of the 2020s, one third of all new cars sold will be electric vehicles. That’s a massive impact on carbon emission.
You are predicting that two or more internet systems will result.
The trade war today is not about tariffs; it’s really about the race for technological superiority. In the 2020s, we’ll start talking about the internet in plural. We could see the Chinese protocol versus the U.S. protocol. Russia hasn’t expressed an intention to have its own internet, but wants more internet sovereignty—more control over the content on the internet.
Demographics is a massive theme with you.
In the 2020s, we’ll have more grandparents than grandchildren, more people over 65 than people under 5. Japan isn’t the oldest country on the planet. It’s China, because of its one-child policy, which has since been abolished. In this decade, close to 800 million people will join the silver, or over 65, economy. Today, the total pension deficit is $24 trillion. For every year that life expectancy goes up, this number goes up by $1 trillion.
This year, Gen Z is turning 18 and 19 and integrating into the real economy, getting real jobs, moving out of their homes. They’re into sustainability and services rather than goods. There will be a 50% drop in drivers’ licenses in the U.S.
Any other themes?
Smart everything: There will be 500 billion connectable smart devices by the end of this decade. By 2025, we’ll connect with an online device every 18 seconds, or 4,800 times a day. Next year, there will be more smart speakers than humans. Today, global data are multiplying itself every two to three years.
Space is another big theme. In 2022, 3,200 nanosatellites are going to be launched by Amazon. These are the size of the palm of your hand. They will make a massive contribution to communication, bridging the 40% of the globe that’s not connected to the internet, networking the world.