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Wondering What the Future Holds?

January 12, 2012

The World Future Society recently published an article in The Futurist (November-December 2011) that provides possible glimpses at the answer to this question.  Below I have recapped a portion, focusing on areas important to firms serving the built environment.

Current state of the future:

  • Food prices are at their highest point in history, and likely to continue to rise without major innovations in production
  • More data went through the internet in 2010 than in all the previous years combined
  • Amazon.com sold more electronic than paper books for the first time
  • The world economy grew 4.9% in 2010, while the population grew 1.2%
  • The gap between rich and poor – both within cultures and among countries – continues to widen
  • China surpassed Japan to become the world’s second largest economy 2010
  • India is expected to pass China as the most populous country in the world by 2030; together, these countries account for nearly 40% of humanity

 

Outlook for the decade ahead:

  • Computers will manage our money for us, perhaps warding off a lot of would-be recessions and market crashes
  • The internet will automatically search itself so you don’t have to (Google is learning about you with each search you currently do)
  • A diverse portfolio of energy technologies will replace our reliance on fossil fuels
  • We will use our water more wisely – or else water shortages will increase dangerously
  • Future buildings may be more responsive to weather fluctuations
  • Cities will use geographic information systems to collect real-time data from citizens to improve services
  • It’s a boom market for medical tourism
  • Learning will become more social and game-based, and online gaming may soon replace textbooks in schools
  • Future libraries will be valued more for services than for book collections
  • Human relationships won’t die, but interactions will become more virtual
  • We will design more devices to gradually degrade back into the parts stream
  • Cheap electricity and clean water may soon be possible for remote areas using a new technologies being developed using nanotechnology and hydrogen fuel cells
  • With more work being done by freelancers, organizations will need full-time professionals to supervise them
  • The Artic regions will be hotspots for industrial and demographic growth
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