Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Present Megatrends

In March 2010, Australia's CSIRO released "Our Future World: An analysis of global trends, shocks and scenarios" compiled by Stefan Hajkowicz and James Moody with input from scientists and business experts. This describes
five global megatrends and risks it is claimed will change lifestyles.
The five interrelated megatrends ...
  1. More from less. This relates to the world’s depleting natural resources and increasing demand for those resources through economic and population growth. Coming decades will see a focus on resource use efficiency.
  2. A personal touch. Growth of the services sector of western economies is being followed by a second wave of innovation aimed at tailoring and targeting services.
  3. Divergent demographics. The populations of OECD countries are ageing and experiencing lifestyle and diet related health problems. At the same time there are high fertility rates and problems of not enough food for millions in poor countries.
  4. On the move. People are changing jobs and careers more often, moving house more often, commuting further to work and travelling around the world more often.
  5. i World. Everything in the natural world will have a digital counterpart. Computing power and memory storage are improving rapidly. Many more devices are getting connected to the internet. ...
From: Our Future World: An analysis of global trends, shocks and scenarios, Stefan Hajkowicz and James Moody, CSIRO, March 2010
This is a relatively short (26 page) readable report, written in the sensationalist style of popular science books, rather than a scientific report. As the authors admit there is nothing really new or surprising in the document, it being a summary of thinking on the topic.

While providing a useful summary, it was not clear to me what the point of the report was: It presents the trends and the problems, but does not provide any unifying theme or present any solutions. Perhaps the implicit message is that CSIRO can help solve the problems by harnessing the trends. If so, the authors needed to say that explicitly and provide some evidence to support the claim.

Despite its limitations, this is a useful report. I am a visitor at the CSIRO's ICT Centre in Canberra and one of those working on what is described here as the "i World", accelerating "On The Move" and "More from less". It is useful to have the work put in a global context, not just some little thing you do each day. One of my contributions to help address some of these issues is my book: "Green Technology Strategies".

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