EDITORIAL The Nation, Bangkok, Thailand / Asia News Network
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "The changes to human beings' political, economic and social systems will be pervasive and come like a tsunami, which makes "We should be prepared" easier said than done."
The Nation, Bangkok, Thailand / Asia News Network
At no other point in history have we faced such major economic, political and lifestyle upheavals.
Technology is pushing human beings in all directions, and the main result is unpredictability on a massive scale and on virtually all aspects of people's lives.
Even what have seemed like unassailable status quos, such as prevailing economic systems or the existence of "too big to fail" corporations that have all but controlled people's lives, are no longer invincible.
Take carmakers, which have virtually dictated the way we commute and influenced the planet's reliance on oil.
Giant manufacturers are keeping one eye on the tiny minority in the business -- electric cars -- because the tipping point could be closer than we think.
Those who miss out on the ongoing innovations could easily go under, like some key telephone manufacturers in the past.
And talking about mobile phones, companies that seem omnipresent nowadays have to closely watch the rapid advancement of wireless broadband Internet technology, which, like solar power, will eventually generate services that are dirt cheap, benefiting consumers but threatening the operators who didn't see it coming.
There will be more robots and they will play bigger roles. The time will soon come when "going to the theatre" will be something that "old timers" did. Televisions could shrink to the size of eyeglasses, allowing individual wearers to watch anything of their choice.
Online shopping's increasing popularity could mean a proliferation of warehouses and a big decrease in the number of traditional shops as we know them.
World political agendas that have been largely mapped out by locations of abundant oil resources may be upended.
If or when oil's importance lessens and solar power becomes more relevant, poor countries may become rich and rich countries may struggle badly.
"Democracy" could become genuine, meaning traditionally poor people can have vehicles that run on an ample source of energy and the same people can enjoy access to plentiful knowledge thanks to cheap and omnipresent wireless Internet. And there's more. Expansive knowledge could defy military power, be it on a national or global scale.
It may be conspiratorial to assume that the progress of solar energy and electric car innovation has become too slow for our liking because some "status quos" don't want them.
But conspiracy theorists have the right to think that, because the world has produced so many marvellous things that, it would seem, oil-free engines should not be too hard to produce. Whatever the reason, it seems that the "slow" progress is set to gather pace. One thing about technology is that what can be done, will be done.
Technology-induced changes will drastically alter perceptions on the concepts of wealth and money, or on success and glory. People of the future will rely less on the numbers in their bank books a genuine knowledge becomes a lot more important. Per capita income may cease to be the key indicator of a nation's true worth.
Many of these are certain to happen while the rest are likely.
Technology may outrun everyone, including those convinced that they are equipped to utilize, contain or cope with it -- as many seemingly unbeatable entrepreneurs have learned in the hardest way.
The changes to human beings' political, economic and social systems will be pervasive and come like a tsunami, which makes "We should be prepared" easier said than done.
And maybe the best we all can do is be aware that they are coming.