Ten Future-Facing Trends


Below are ten recent trends worth watching:

  1. Brexit, Stage Right: In a historic vote, Britain has decided to leave the European Union, an event known as the Brexit. There are lots of interpretations of the outcome. Time calls it a “new milestone in the global war on elites,” while The Telegraph says Europe now faces an existential crisis as a result. The Mirror notes that younger voters who wanted the Brexit least must now live with it longest. In response to the Brexit, Scotland’s Prime Minister has said the event makes a new Scottish independence vote “highly likely.” In the immediate aftermath, the global economy did not react well. U.S. stocks swooned initially, BSE Sensex dropped over a thousand points, and markets in general were “freaking out.”  Meanwhile, forecasters learned a little more about how well prediction tools worked in regard to the vote.
  2. Euroskepticism Elsewhere: Pew Research reports, “A median of just 51% across 10 EU countries surveyed have a favorable view of the European Union. A median of 42% in these 10 nations want more power returned to their national capitals, while only 19% favor giving Brussels more power and 27% favor the status quo.”
  3. Half Connected (Almost): We will soon cross the threshold when over half of humanity has some form of Internet connection at home. Around 46% of the global population has an Internet connection of some kind at home, and the pace at which new users are getting connected has slowed in recent years. Nonetheless, we should cross the halfway mark well before 2020 and perhaps even as soon as 2018.
  4. Hot, Hotter, Hottest: May 2016 was the hottest month on record and the 13th consecutive hottest month, according to NOAA. Meanwhile, the heat index in Iran hit 165 degrees the other day.
  5. U.S. Productivity Doldrums: The U.S. is enduring one of the worst bouts of stagnant productivity growth in its post-WWII history, and no one knows why. From 2011 to 2015, the percentage annual change in productivity was just .5%. The last time there was such a dismal five-year cluster of low productivity growth was from 1978 to 1982.
  6. U.S. Middle Class Losing Ground: Pew Research reports, “From 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas.”
  7. Yet, the World Is Getting Better in Many Ways: The world is improving in terms of poverty rates, health expenditures per capita, and human welfare in general. 
  8. The Rise of the Machine Learners: Google Trends shows that machine learning is a phrase on the rise. Machine learning is behind a lot of the AI news these days.
  9. MOOCs Are Also on the Rise: The number of massive open online courses continues on a steep growth trajectory. Dhawal Shah, founder and CEO of MOOC discovery database, Class Central, has cataloged it since 2011.  rising moocs_edited-1
  10. Phobias Might Be Inherited Memories: It seems too odd to be true, but there’s new evidence that we might be able to inherit memories from our ancestors. That would change the way we think about inheritance in general, and it would be another sign that epigenetics has vindicated many Lamarckian concepts that have long since been discredited.

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