The Turbulent Twenties is bound to be a decade to remember, with several radical changes happening at the same time. Changes that have been accumulating during the last decades and are now inescapably ready to discharge. The world that comes out on the other side will be transformed. Like WWI in Stefan Zweig’s “The World of Yesterday”, it will mark the portal that takes us to a new “World of Tomorrow”.
Change has started with the COVID 19 epidemic, an eerie echo of the 1918 flu pandemic. In the big scheme of things, it will be seen as a trigger of the changes to come. We are in for much greater things, at least five major changes are ready to transform how we live:
- A new world order ushered by a world war, as a rising power challenges the hegemon. Hopefully, it will be a digital and economic war, not a war of trenches, bombs and tanks, but undoubtedly it will disrupt lives and livelihoods.
- A new productive system based on a full deployment of digital technology, as a new technology paradigm rips and replaces how the economy works.
- A new Earth, that hinges on the war against climate change, forcing a change of the energy and transportation matrix, or adaptation to a much harsher and more chaotic world created by current consumption patterns.
- A new concept of humanity, redefined by four technologies, AI, Biotech, Virtual and Augmented Reality and the Internet of Everything, which will change the texture of human experience and the definition of what it means to be human.
- A new economic paradigm, that solves the tensions provoked by the peak of economic inequalities, changing economic orthodoxy and enlarging the safety net. With economic opportunity for everyone becoming a basic right, and deficit monetization becoming a basic tool like adjusting interest rates.
This five changes will happen with already existing technology, nothing new is needed. On top of that, some other technologies and domains might surprise us like space exploration, blockchain, superintelligence, fusion technology, etc… only time will tell when they will be relevant.
Change will be wrenching. Humans will struggle to create the best outcome out of the cards they are dealt. Surely there will be darker periods of chaos when the outcome seems unclear and negative scenarios loom. However, “The World of Tomorrow” will be the best ever in terms of objective metrics. With safety, opportunity and the elimination of want and waste across the globe, intertwining humanity with nature to eliminate any footprint. However, many will feel ill at ease in this new world, and long for the simpler and more “human” past of the “World of Yesterday”.
In the meantime, we should be prepared to see our world upended and our fortunes zigzag. Prepare to enjoy the ride as best you can. COVID 19 is just the beginning. As the apocryphal Chinese curse says: “May you live in interesting times”.