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Megatrends for this decade – I

Megatrends foresight for this decade with special focus on economy. The prediction did not take into account the upheaval created by Covid-19. Image credit: Genius, based on data from BlackRock, WorldBank, Bloomberg, Deloitte, WEF, IFTF, McKinsey

The ongoing pandemic was nowhere to be seen in 2019 (although several people in the previous 10 years have been warning that one pandemic was due -statistically we get a major one every 100 years) and hence it was not taken into account in laying forecast for the incoming decade. The pandemic clearly disrupted short term forecast but those looking at Megatrends may not have been affected significantly. Clearly some tuning is required, like taking into account acceleration and slow down following the pandemic and the countermeasures taken, but most of the forecasts can still be considered as valid.

In this series of posts I will be looking at the optimistic Megatrends proposed by Peter Diamandis that will be discussed in an event on January 24th.

Before looking at the proposed Megatrends I plan to present and briefly discuss the ones resulting from the analyses of forecasts coming from the WorldBank, WEF and a few Intelligence Agencies (see picture). They are useful to set the scene to Peter’s Megatrends that are more focussing on the expected impact of technology evolution.

  1. the Emerging economies of the 7 Countries forming the E7, China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Indonesia and Turkey, will double the size of the G7 economies, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, by 2040. Notice that the classification of Emerging Economy needs some revision, given that China this year, according to the IMF, has already surpassed US as largest economy in the world. Additionally, the pandemic has accelerated China’s relative growth, since it has been the first major economy to recover after the pandemic, with an expected growth in 2020 of 2% (way lower than the usual growth but a significant upswing from the 6.8% decrease marked in the first quarter of 2020);
  2. Emerging economies will be experiencing a 75% faster growth than G7 economies. This is going to shift the established consumption of goods and influence the design of new products, also considering that the consumer market is driven by the middle class and by the end of this decade 80% of the middle class will be found in the E7. Also consider that the E7 will represent 50 of the World GDP by 2025. Their markets will likely steer the evolution in the second part of this decade;
  3. The global population keeps growing. It is expected to reach 10 billion in 2050. There were 7.7 billion people at the end of 2019 and according to the world clock there are now 7.825 billion people. By 2030 the population over 65 yo is expected to reach 13% of the total population (compare this with today’s 8%). This is likely to put a strain on healthcare. Also notice that the age range differs in various geographical areas with 90% of people under 25 yo living in emerging countries. This is another factor creating strong imbalance across Countries;
  4. The growing population will increase food demand by 59% in 2050 and there is a drinkable water looming crises. Water, food and critical resources (raw materials) are a potential danger for the wellbeing and for a peaceful living. As shown in following posts some feel we have the technology (or will have) to face and meet these challenges. The general consensus is that technology evolution will use artificial intelligence as a tool to accelerate progress.
  5. The growth of population is not going to be evenly distributed. Also, urbanisation will continue at an accelerated pace. Every week 1.5 million people move to cities and by 2050 66% of the total world population will live in cities (compare with today 55%). Additionally, it is expected that 61% of global GDP will be produced by 750 cities. This is leading to the creation of mega cities with tremendous need for efficient infrastructures.

These economic/societal megatrends are leveraging more and more on a digital economy and digitalization in its many forms. 90% of world data has been created in the last two years and this window is going to become shorter as we move into the future. Many activities are already performed in the cyberspace (90% of stock trading is now done by algorithms) and more and more objects are connected to the cyberspace (1,000 billion objects by 2022).

These trends are not just leveraging, they are also steering the technology evolution and change the way we live.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.