As I periodically do, I have updated my anchor emerging future visual. The focus for this iteration was The middle portion of the visual: societal factors. The following factors were added, with some descriptions provided by the Future Today Institute (FTI) 2019 Trends Study:
FAKE NEWS: also known as junk news or pseudo-news, is a deliberate attempt at disinformation or spreading hoaxes via traditional news media (print and broadcast) or online social media. Digital news has increased the usage of fake news, often reverberated as misinformation in social media but occasionally finding its way to the mainstream media as well. Fake news is written and published usually with the intent to mislead in order to damage and/or gain financially or politically, often using sensationalist, dishonest, or outright fabricated headlines to increase readership.
In a few years, AI systems will enable more sophisticated fact checking; explaining whether information was taken out of context, or exaggerated, or downplayed. FTI expects to see new automated tools for fact checking, adding a critical editorial layer that’s both good for the public interest and good for building brand reputation.
IDENTITY THEFT: Pair VR with the concept of DeepFake technology and you’ve got a frightening prospect: anyone could virtually take on an identity not their own, complete with a digitally projected physical appearance, voice, and movements indistinguishable from those of the individual they are impersonating. In a distant-future era, with VR constituting a majority of human experiences, and with such shape-shifting abilities at everyone’s fingertips, it will become increasingly less possible to verify the identities of those around us. Distrust will infect all social interaction, along with the intense mental strain of living under constant threat of identity theft, if not loss of identity entirely. New authentication techniques will be imperative if we are to maintain sanity and order in society, and we will need to be constantly vigilant in verifying the identity of those we interact with.
HUMAN MIGRATION: Climate changes will push millions of Americans away from their costal homes, and we are not ready for the impacts of a migration at that scale. Hurricane Maria in 2017 triggered a massive exodus from Puerto Rico, causing one of the largest migration events in US history. By December that year, an estimated 215,000 Puerto Ricans fled the island for the US mainland. Researchers from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University looking at new flows of migrants worldwide, found that people who applied for asylum between 2000 and 2014 were increasingly on the move due to “weather shocks.”
A study by researchers at Columbia University, published in the journal Science, showed that climate change could lead to 1 million climate refugees migrating into the European Union every year by 2100—creating breathtaking changes to our existing cities and infrastructure. Throughout the world, monsoons, droughts and scorching heat are driving millions of people away from their homes in search of more hospitable environments. Which means that climate change is an issue of national security. The EJF worked with national security experts and retired military leaders to model scenarios for the future of climate change and human migration and concluded that the number of climate refugees could dwarf the number that has fled Syria in recent years. We could see a wave of migration from Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and from island nations into Europe and the US. A recent World Bank report also looked at the problem, projecting climate change could result in 143 million “climate migrants” by 2050, as people escape crop failure, water scarcity, and rising sea water, and most of them will flee developing countries in Sub-Saharaha Africa, Latin America and South Asia.
AUTHORITARIAN CONTROL: While the promises of blockchain and Web 3.0 were full of decentralization of power, in reality, influence and power in these networks concentrate within two parties: the developers who write the code for core protocols and the miners who validate transactions. The number of people who can contribute to open source blockchain projects is tiny relative to the size of the networks. Corporations and governments with majority control of either the miners or the developers can potentially manipulate the system and rewrite the rules. Customers and citizens will have limited options and alternative blockchains to switch to
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