We are about to enter a disruptive new age with one of the fastest and most intense transformations in human history. 2030 is going to look vastly different than today for our kids and us. The way our families will be learning, working, living, eating, traveling, driving, spending time with family and friends, making purchases, and staying healthy will all change. Governments seeking to improve citizens’ quality of life will need to fundamentally reimagine their services.
According to RethinkX, key technologies during this decade will converge to wholly disrupt five foundational sectors that underpin the global economy and, with them, every major industry today:
RethinkX predicts costs will fall by ten times or more, while production processes will become ten times more efficient and use 90% fewer natural resources with 10 to 100 times less waste. In other words, wealthy lifestyles or “the American dream” could be achievable at only $250 USD/month by 2030, as products will become much cheaper to produce.
Megatrends have been advancing for years, and it’s important to note that the pandemic is accelerating many of them. For example, technology adoption has progressed much faster out of necessity, and online shopping has also increased.
What are some of the disruptions we will experience by 2030?
Our jobs and lives will be much more automated
The world will be much more automated than it is today, and many of us will work less or become “technologically unemployed.” For example, by 2030, 38.3 million of current Global 500 corporate jobs are to be replaced by automation, while 21.4 million new high-skilled Global 500 corporate jobs are to be created. According to the Government in 2071 Guidebook, by 2030, we will increasingly see more automation within many blue collar tasks and jobs along with many white-collar tasks. For example, a return to manufacturing will be seen in developed economies, but without manufacturing jobs. Other significant sectors that will be affected include food service, retail, truck driving, and jobs that rely heavily on mundane tasks that are easily completed by robots or AI systems.
We will have to develop new skills and “life-long learn” for new economic industries such as advancements in clean energy, the disruption of advertising, and the instant economy of things with on-demand production and delivery. Our trend for valuing experiences and convenience over owning things will only accelerate with on-demand transportation services and self-driving cars devoid of traffic jams and car accidents, AI assistants, personalized experiences, and online purchasing.
Our transportation and homes will be smarter and will release near-zero emissions
We will be more conscious than ever of the climate crisis with our near-zero-emissions electric cars, globally abundant cheap renewable energy, and smart homes that will be intuitively automated with AI intelligence and IoT connectivity. It is expected that the electric vehicle market will produce more than 30 million vehicles annually by 2027.
We will live healthier and longer
CRISPR and gene therapies, precision antibiotics, and mining patient records will minimize disease and could increase human health spans by 10+ years on average. Cellular agriculture is to become mainstream and provide high-quality protein that is cheaper and healthier. Precision farming and vertical farming will bring more water and food to cities.
We will become predominantly middle class and largely older
The demographics of the world will also likely be very different, mostly middle class and largely older. By 2030, it is projected that the global population will add 800 million people above the age of 30, and there will be 100 million fewer people under the age of 30. There will be 1.8 billion more people who will have at least $11 per day in spending power, while the number of poor and vulnerable with less than $11 per day will shrink by 1.1 billion. Africa will soon become the second-most populous region globally, while Sub-Saharan Africa will experience a boom in both population and a growing middle class. Asia will represent 66% of the global middle-class population and 59% of middle-class consumption by 2030 — up from 28% and 23%, respectively, in 2009.
We will shift to a multi-polar economic world
Geographic economic power is also expected to shift to a multi-polar world. Six of the seven largest economies in the world are projected to be emerging economies in 2050, led by China (1st), India (2nd), and Indonesia (4th), with the US in 3rd. Cities will likely continue to gain more self-sufficiency and exert more global influence.
The mindset of governments and policymakers will need to change to move forward
As we move into this new sphere of life in which citizens will have ever-growing expectations of quality services, how can governments start reimagining their own services? For example, imagine a form of secure AI software that a person permits to listen to all their conversations, read their email, monitor their blood chemistry, etc. The software will learn their preferences, anticipate their needs and behavior, shop for them, monitor their health, and help support their mid- and long-term goals. How could government services adapt to match or tap into such intuitive connectivity?
Governments will require a total shift in mindset, models, and beliefs to delete existing structures, frameworks, and current assumptions. We have the ability to break through our current limitations. Currently, many governments have hierarchical, siloed, centralized structures based on nation states and established national or multinational institutions. How will this fit into the new system of production or flow of information that is emerging?
Below are three examples of areas to start reimagining:
1. Creating new systems to deal with new flows of physical resources and information
According to Singularity Hub, as emerging technology allows communities to become self-sufficient, flows of physical resources will be replaced by information flows. We will require a decentralized but highly networked organizing system. In some ways, they believe we would have to reconsider our current government systems, capital structure, and nation-state structure to fit the future.
2. Figuring out how to retrain workers
We have to figure out how to retrain people and help them find new jobs. How will people be able to pay their living expenses or stimulate the economy in the interim? According to the Government in 2071 Guidebook, governments will need to support economies with rapidly growing unemployment and get businesses to offset effective education and retraining costs. Universal basic income or alternative ideas that were once fringe ideas are now being considered and trialed.
3. New models for community ownership and input to public issues
The recent RethinkX report includes detailed recommendations, including giving individuals control and ownership of data rights, developing new models for community ownership of energy, information and transportation networks, and allowing states and cities far greater autonomy over immigration, taxation, education, and public expenditure.
Governments may wish to begin reimagining what’s next for government services and citizens’ quality of life. If so, they can start with campaigns that involve the public in shaping the future, such as the UAE’s Design Next 50 project. Additionally, governments can take a cue from the private sector or partner with them to observe the technology infrastructure needed to enhance experiences in the new world and add value to people’s lives.