WASHINGTON — January 19, 2016 — The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software & Society has released a report that details the broader impacts of new and emerging technologies. Based on a survey of more than 800 industry leaders, the report – “Deep Shift: 21 Ways Software Will Transform Global Society” – examines the breadth and depth of software-enabled progress occurring in society, and includes recommendations on how to prepare for the changes ahead.
“With increasing software breakthroughs, we are entering a time of monumental societal shifts that will be felt by people around the world,” said Victoria Espinel, president and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance and chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software & Society, meeting this week in Davos. “These advancements will enable us to connect and invent in ways we never before imagined. I am hopeful that this report will encourage a broader dialogue about how our society considers the impact of these shifts as we navigate the complex issues related to ever-changing technologies.”
The report identifies six megatrends that are shaping society, and their associated opportunities and risks:
- People and the Internet – how wearable and implantable technologies can change how people connect and interact with the world around them.
- Computing, Communications and Storage Everywhere – why the rapid decline in the size and cost of technology will lead to ubiquitous computing and connectivity.
- The Internet of Things – how smaller, cheaper, and smarter sensors will become commonplace in homes, clothes and accessories, cities, energy networks, manufacturing processes, and more.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data – why advancements in software’s ability to learn and evolve influences decision-making processes and economies.
- The Sharing Economy and Distributed Trust – how disruptive technologies like blockchains enable new efficiencies and business models.
- The Digitization of Matter – why 3D printing will revolutionize industries ranging from manufacturing to human health.
Across these six megatrends, the report surveyed industry leaders on 21 specific tipping points – moments when specific technological shifts hit mainstream society – expected to be enabled by software by 2025. Predictions with the largest consensus were:
- 10% of people wearing clothes connected to the Internet (91.2% of respondents agree)
- 90% of people having unlimited and free (advertising-supported) storage (91% of respondents agree)
- 1 trillion sensors connected to the Internet (89.2% of respondents agree)
- The first robotic pharmacist in the U.S. (86.5% of respondents agree)
- 10% of reading glasses connected to the Internet (85.5% of respondents agree)
Against the backdrop of these tipping points, the report also expands upon the opportunities and challenges that these impacts will have across all facets of society, ranging from jobs to government to security. The report ties to the theme of the 46th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
“Software has the potential to drastically change our lives, and these changes are not without challenges,” said Espinel. “Navigating the transition to our increasingly digital future begins with an awareness of the shifts to come and an understanding of their implications. This report is a first step in understanding the changes that lie ahead.”
The entire “Deep Shift: Technology Tipping Points and Societal Impact” report is available here.