Deep Shift: Technology Tipping Points and Societal Impact (WEF Report)

Link to download the complete report. You can read more about the report here and some of the highlights we mention below.

The World Economic Forum‘s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software and Society conducted a survey of 800 executives to fully capture when would these game-changing technology breaking into the public domain to a significant degree, and the implication of these shifts to individual, organisations, government and society. It is clear through navigating the 21 dazzling technology shifts that the world will function quite differently 10 to 15 years from now.

Average year each tipping point is expected to occur

“Respondents who thought the tipping points (shifts) would occur at some point in time provided the years when they expected that these would occur (Figure 1), with the earliest shift in 2018 and the latest in 2027. The results show that a significant number of shifts were expected to occur in the early years of the next decade.”

WEF average tipping points

NOTE: The survey results were also analysed to see what percentage of the respondents expected the tipping point to have occurred by 2025, or ten years from now. Eleven of the 21 transition points had a high expectation (over 80%) of occurring by this date.

The Six Megatrends in the report include:

People and the internet
How people connect with others, information and the world around them is being transformed through a combination of technologies. Wearable and implantable technologies will enhance people’s “digital presence”, allowing them to interact with objects and one another in new ways.

Computing, communications and storage everywhere
The continued rapid decline in the size and cost of computing and connectivity technologies is driving an exponential growth in the potential to access and leverage the internet. This will lead to ubiquitous computing power being available, where everyone has access to a supercomputer in their pocket, with nearly unlimited storage capacity.

The Internet of Things
Smaller, cheaper and smarter sensors are being introduced – in homes, clothes and accessories, cities, transport and energy networks, as well as manufacturing processes.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data
Exponential digitization creates exponentially more data – about everything and everyone. In parallel, the sophistication of the problems software can address, and the ability for software to learn and evolve itself, is advancing rapidly.mThis is built on the rise of big data for decision-making, and the influence that AI and robotics are starting to have on decision-making and jobs.

The sharing economy and distributed trust
The internet is driving a shift towards networks and platform-based social and economic models. Assets can be shared, creating not just new efficiencies but also whole new business models and opportunities for social self- organization. The blockchain, an emerging technology, replaces the need for third-party institutions to provide trust for financial, contract and voting activities.

The digitisation of matter
Physical objects are “printed” from raw materials via additive, or 3D, printing, a process that transforms industrial manufacturing, allows for printing products at home and creates a whole set of human health opportunities.

NOTE from The Futures Agency on some flaws in the perception of the survey participants 

With all due respect to WEF and the  Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software and Society who conducted the survey amongst +800 executives and experts from the information and communications technology sector, but the survey participants need to know better at some tipping point trends points raised in the report, for example:
Shift 13: Artificial Intelligence and Decision-Making (page 21)

The tipping point: The first Artificial Intelligence (AI) machine on a corporate board of directors Expected date: 2026

FYI this already happened in 2014 when Deep Knowledge Ventures, a Hong Kong based venture capital firm, appointed a computer algorithm to its board of directors. Some unimaginable technology uses in real life situations are sometimes happening faster than we can imagine 🙂

You can read more about the report here or directly download the complete report.


Check out ‘Redefining the relationship of man and machine’ – an audio-visual meditation byGerd Leonhard.

In this unique film, Futurist Gerd Leonhard reads his chapter in the 2015 book ‘The Future of Business’, entitled ‘Redefining the relationship of man and machine’. In his piece, Gerd addresses the key issues and opportunities that will arise from an increasing convergence of humanity and technology, touching on related topics such as AI, Digital Ethics, reductionism, technological unemployment and machine-thinking.

Posted by Rudy de Waele aka @mtrends /

Leave a comment