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The Future is a Challenge

In the MIT Technology Review’s January 2020 edition, Malcolm Harris paints a bleak picture of a “world on the edge of collapse,” defying John Maynard Keynes optimistic predictions in 1930 that 100 years later (in 2030) there would be automation, more societal progress, and collective liberation from work. Instead, Harris says that with an apocalyptic forecast, our world is facing wage stagnation, deregulated and unsafe workplaces, an irreversible climate crisis, and more. 

Not All is Lost

While I believe the industrial age has forever changed and is facing tremendous challenges for employment in the age of automation, and responsibility in terms of wealth or the care for the health of our planet, we cannot measure progress or world injustices solely against Keynes’ predictions. Nonetheless, if you wanted to measure it in this way, you could read this recent summation in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof, who cites statistics that extreme poverty, infant mortality rates, and other negative key indicators are on the decline. Kristof writes that deep pessimism about the state of the world is “paralyzing rather than empowering; excessive pessimism can leave people feeling not just hopeless but also helpless.” 

The Knowledge Age is the Future

What both authors are missing, however, is an acknowledgment of fundamental change in our economics and global way of life. Both opinions lack full consideration of the importance of digital tools and technological capabilities empowering the knowledge age we have entered. As the world stands on the precipice of a new decade: 1.) not all is not lost and hurtling towards an inevitable dystopian future, and 2.) industrial era economics can not continue to exhaust our planet or its resources or our people of their hope without dire consequences. Instead, the people, institutions, and enterprises of the world have the opportunity and necessity to embrace and properly apply technology to advance a shift in wealth and well-being.

Hope for Everyone – By Everyone.

We can improve lives to an unprecedented level of wealth in untraditional ways and not by the singular efforts of one generation. The best opportunities for the next decade come when we turn to bigger solutions, and as a national or global whole, through our own connected efforts  open our minds to embracing and accelerating solutions, big and small, through the digital tools and technologies we have today Human nature is to move forward, so let’s look up instead of down as we bridge the gap into a new decade of possibility

2030 Will Be Better 

Studying history and applying technology has been the passion of my educational and professional lives. During the next year, I will offer a framework for understanding the potential of the knowledge age and all the good technology can and will do. I will write about important technology developments, positive digital advancements and the opportunities they hold and demonstrate to improve lives and the health of our planet. I will also offer a framework for understanding why as a result of a networked, digital world there is hope and more of it in the coming decade.