A digital nerve centre comprising 1 trillion sensors delivers a continual stream of real time data and some fascinating new insights. In 2020 the market for IT-solutions will be worth approximately $7.2 trillion. Digitalization is completely transforming the existing measurement of wealth. There will also be a fundamental shift in the way consumers will relate to businesses. As well as access to the information highway, digitalization makes life easier for consumers in other ways, for example when doing their shopping, managing their banking, arranging appointments, booking travel and keeping an eye on their health. But digitalization trends are not linear. By 2020 many pure web shops will be bankrupt (IBM), because an integration of physical and digital is what customers want; omni-channel and click & collect represent the new shopping. This is one of the reasons that web retailers Amazon and Zalando are opening physical shops. The digital transformation will lead to the loss of 80 percent of current jobs (Singularity University). To date, insufficient new work is being created. A 3-day week, basic income and ‘helicopter funds’ lie in the future. Old coin disappears and new currency will come along, on the basis of blockchain technology. And all the joined-up digital functioning will increase our vulnerability to terrorism. IT security will take on even more importance. You could call it ‘the Israelization of the economy’ because it is in Israel that we find the most start ups and patents per head of population, a direct result of living under permanent threat.
Decades of peace and security have made us spineless. But now we will re-group and decide what is really of value. Today’s information revolution is leading to a ‘global political awakening of the masses’ according to Zbigniew Brzezinski (88), ex-US National Security Advisor.
The underground media that has sprung up has led to a situation where only 23 percent of US citizens believe the mainstream media. In Europe the same thing is bound to happen. And as elites lose power and control over their subjects they react in confusion. Censorship is back, having never truly been gone. Dictators are trying to control social media, for example in Turkey, and the privacy debate is increasingly heated. The fear of loss of power among the elites together with social unrest fed by mass unemployment and the threat of jihadism are creating the perfect storm that could lead to another world war. The modernised army will take up the task of cyber warfare. Increasingly ‘smart’ objects become new economic entities that start to participate in the economy alongside businesses, local authorities and consumers. Technology becomes ever more intelligent, autonomous, intimate, personal and intuitive. But will technology help us to become more human? The more important our online life becomes, the more we will value our offline life. We will find increased enjoyment in physical meetings, cooking and eating together, and sharing intimacy. We are heading towards a hybrid digital future. In the Century of the Citizen we will become happier and more complete.