22 January 2020
Just 20 years into the 21st Century, we have already seen remarkable changes that we could never have anticipated. We’ve come up with 20 predictions that explore what the next 20 years may have in store for your organisation.
While rapid technological advances and the increasing integration of technology into our lives have the potential to benefit society, there will inevitably be a split between those with access to this transformation and those left behind. Often based on people’s socio-economic status, this will drive economic, social and personal divides.
The risk is that we marginalise certain groups. For example, as technology such as IoT is used to optimise day-to-day life from energy efficiency to travel, those without access will be greatly disadvantaged. Or if healthcare is increasingly provided digitally – through virtual doctors’ visits, for example – those with little or no digital access will miss out.
We will also need to address the problem that as AI becomes pervasive throughout organisations, there is a risk of encoding societal biases in the algorithms we create. Elsewhere, ideas such as the augmented human are likely to be the preserve of the rich.
The need to implement strategies to close the gap between those who have access to technology and those excluded from it will become a pressing societal imperative in the years ahead. Technology offers commercial advantage, but social benefit should be a driving force too.
For technology to become ubiquitous, access to technology needs to become a basic right, along with healthcare, food and electricity. Focus will then shift to ensuring that in addition to access to technology, there are resources in place that help individuals to use them effectively – from booking a doctor’s appointment to attending the appointment virtually.
Governments will now need to consider policy and regulation to promote equality of access to technology as a matter of urgency. This will extend to debates such as the merits of net neutrality.
But organisations have a role to play too. They must think about how the technologies they develop and deploy have the potential to cause social divides – and to consider how to mitigate the problem.
Education is one area where the digital divide could prove particularly pernicious. Lack of access to technology will increasingly disadvantage certain groups of students – and have a negative impact on the economy and productivity of the country.
Curious to find out what else could happen between now and 2040? Read our other predictions
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