After reading The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century, I’ve decided to join in the fun and predict the future.
Obviously I have no place in arguing with the author’s geopolitical analysis, which is fascinating, but I thought it would be fun to add in two other elements. One on technology and one on culture.
Technology – the translation
Whilst many people talk about artificial intelligence, machine/deep learning, such as the example of AlphaGo, very little are paying attention to Google Translate, probably perhaps it has never been that good. And despite Google’s brain team has recently been super excited about their new approach to it (using neural networks to perform the task), it will probably still take a while for it to fully develop. Obviously I can’t predict when computer translation (either real-time text or voice) can be ubiquitous, I believe many people are underestimating the potential of this advancement in computer technology.
The breakdown of language barrier.
Imagine computers now can perform translation in real-time among all languages in both text and voice (to be honest, from a technology standpoint, this does not sound too farfetched, we are talking about translation, not writing a poem). What would happen to our world? For one, information and more importantly knowledge would be much more readily available to a larger audience, or in fact, to the full population of human beings. Even illiterate would be able to ‘read’ (listen) to books on a language that they can command. The possibility of this is fascinating, but let’s keep this thought in mind for a moment as we look at the second key development of the future.
Culture – the “Millennial” effect
I generally disagree with the usual analysis of the “millennial” because they are often, if not always, placed in the context of a (large) corporate world, which its existence into the long future is unclear at best. However, it’s not difficult to make an argument that millennial is generally more ‘self-centred’ (a word that I use with no condescending meaning but more as a description of their baptism with modern technologies). And it is a trend that only seems logical to continue for a very long time. In a less serious way, I have often pondered how millennial operate in triads/gangs (which generally demand complete dedication without questions). Yet, it is not difficult to stretch this analogy to how millennial will operate in military or its general interactions with government. I think patriotism or loyalty in general is going to take on a very different meaning in the future, which leads to my conclusion…
The world without boundaries
When there is no language barrier and there is no patriotism, what should we expect of the world? My predication therefore is that the world, obviously in the very far future, will no longer be divided/managed by countries, which is really a historical result based largely on geographies. When languages have become unified, the speed of travel and communication has shortened to become negligible, together with the continuous ‘self centred’ movement of human beings, these will make country geographical boundaries seem trivial.
But this does not mean humans do not need (or want) to be organised or that culture will not be developed. They will. They have to. But I see that the future of ‘countries’ will be re-organised based on ideologies (or communities), rather than physical barriers.
And this is when I think geopolitical analysts will need to have complete re-think of their work.