By : Jim Pinto,
By : Jim Pinto,
Spark Online, January 2002
It was also published in The San Diego Mensan, January 2002
The first year of the new century and millennium, has come - and gone. On the surface, the world continues to turn - but there are significant changes and differences everywhere. Some of these changes have already been occurring inexorably over the past decades - the advancing of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock. But the world, reflected though its omnipresent media, seems to require a single event to jar its consciousness.
On September 11 2001, the new century woke up to just such an event - one that is being compared with Pearl Harbor. That previous event brought America into World War II; this one has taken our fighters, bombers and troops into what has the potential to become another major conflagration.
This hard reality brings the recognition that a new society is emerging - new demographics, institutions, ideologies and problems. Things will be quite different from the society of the late 20th century and different from what most people expect. Much of it will be unprecedented. Most of it is already here, or is rapidly emerging.
In spite of the recent show of force in Afghanistan, the new society will be dominated by brain, not brawn. The world will be borderless for business, with upward mobility for everyone. In a borderless world, democracy will attain a new meaning.
In the US we espouse democracy as “freedom”, but only within narrow national boundaries. Emerging democracies are difficult to deal with. So, under the guise of non-interference, we collaborate with military dictatorships and royal principalities around the world. On the surface these people cater to our pretensions, while they sneer behind our backs and continue with undemocratic domination of their people. Iran is an ominous example - we propped up the despotic Shah and suffered from the inevitable backlash of a depressed populace that was easy pickings for the mullahs and ayatollahs.
In all developed countries, the dominant factor in the next society will be rapid growth of the older population and rapid shrinking of the younger generation. The replacement birthrate is 2.2 births per woman of reproductive age; many European countries are already as low as 1.5, Germany and Italy at about 1.3. Half the population in Germany (the world’s #3 economy) will soon be over 65. At the current rate Italy, now about 60 million, will be 20 million by the latter part of this century.
India is the world’s largest democracy, with a population now exceeding 1 billion. Its birthrate, which is not controlled like China’s, exceeds 3.3 and this means India will have the world’s largest population midway through the century.
The American population will continue to grow - primarily because of immigration and the higher birthrate of immigrants. Politically, immigration will become an important - and highly divisive - issue in all rich countries. Unlike Japan and most other developed countries, America has learned to accommodate and thrive with immigrants.
The twentieth century saw the decline of agriculture - farming in the US declined from about 30% to less than 2% today and protective farming subsidies are common. Similarly, manufacturing, which employed 35-40% early in 20th century, is now about 15% and will decline to about 10% in most developed countries. With new technology, more production will be done with fewer workers, with more and more labor-orientated production going offshore. Soon manufacturing too will see more protectionism and subsidies.
Current corporate business structures will change. As presently defined, the job of the CEO is un-doable. The illusion that paying the leaders more and more attains better performance is antiquated. Like the President of the US, the CEO will emerge simply as a figurehead and cheerleader. Corporate leaders will provide only mission and vision, while each corporate segment will have different local objectives. In the future there will not be just one kind of corporation, but a range of models to choose from.
Underlying all this societal change, technology advances will continue to drive the economy and with it, business and social environments. The three technology laws will still rule - computer power (Moore’s Law) and bandwidth (Gilder’s Law) will continue to double every year. Metcalfe’s Law - effectiveness increasing exponentially with connectivity - will continue to drive growth of the Internet. Throughout the world, everything and everyone will become electronically linked, causing major changes in the ways business will be done and breeding more closeness in the global village.
The decoding of the human genome is a significant new inflection point with revolutionary and startling consequences for humans and life as we know it. Technology will enhance biology through the virtual elimination of disease and significant increase in longevity. Human cloning has already arrived and though politicians and governments decry the advances they cannot stop it. Thousands of scientists all over the world are racing to see who will develop the first human “Dolly”. And when that development becomes a practical reality - which it will within decades - the lottery of conventional biological birthing will seem unnecessarily risky and even quaint.
Get ready for change! The new century is bringing with it enormous changes in all areas of human consciousness. Significant philosophical, ethical, moral, legal, sociological and spiritual questions must be answered, as we move forward in a new century and millennium.
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