Society 2030: A Set of Socio-Economic Scenario Sketches

We are currently at a cross roads when it comes to the balance of power across the world. Advances in technology are combining with shifting socio-economic trends to form new ideologies, each pushing for a different versions of utopia. Here follows a set of broad-strokes possible macro socio-economic scenarios that could play out in the Western world, as written for The Negotiation Society.

AI + UBI = Social Utopia

Tech-pessimism, caused by increasing digital displacement (as jobs are automated away) results in a wide-spread acceptance of state-sponsored universal basic income as an alternative to the current capitalist economy. (For example, see Andrew Yang’s 2020 presidential campaign platform.)

AI + Centralised Control  = Centrally Planned Economy

The rising threat of terrorism causes governments around the world follow China’s lead and invest in surveillance technology to monitor, control and protect their populations. Citizens voluntarily give up a level of privacy and autonomy over their own lives in exchange for more security. (For example, see China’s social credit score system.)

AI + Private Corporations = Smart Cities 

Cash-Strapped governments, saddled with demanding ageing populations, and no longer able to raise the funds required to update infrastructure through taxation or quantitative easing, allow big tech corporations to develop privately owned, self-governed smart cities and towns on a large scale, effectively outsourcing part of the governance function to the private sector.  (For example, see how Toronto is working with Google’s Sidewalk labs.)

Blockchain + Individualism = Self Sovereignty 

Individuals, empowered by new technologies, reject central control by states and privacy-invasions by corporations in favour of collaborative self-governance systems. (For example, see BitNation and V-Taiwan.)

Regardless of which the above socio-economic governance scenarios plays out over the next 11 years, corporations and individuals alike need to be aware of all the possibilities, and the implications thereof, so that they can take the steps required today to make sure that their preferred futures have the best chances of coming to fruition.

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