What will the world look like in 10 years? Futurologists share their 2029 predictions.
“We’ll put more currency on real, face-to-face relationships because we are more educated about social media,” says Bea Karol Burks of innovation foundation Nesta. One outcome could be a total rejection of digital socialising so “our thoughts can’t be captured forever or listened in on”. Futurist Geraldine Wharry adds: “I’m already seeing people turning apps off on their phones to limit interruptions. Deep focus and wellbeing breaks will become priorities.”
RISING SEA LEVELS
By 2030 we need to have halved global emissions to stabilise temperatures. Even if we do, we’ll still be dealing with an unpredictable climate. “In 10 years small island states like the Maldives will be increasingly threatened and even places like Suffolk could be at risk from rising sea levels,” says Owen Gaffney from the Stockholm Resilience Centre. “We’ll have to constantly adapt.”
Flexible working will flex further as we move in and out of hierarchy, says Burks. “We’ll see circular job journeys, where you might hit seniority in your early 30s then step away to fit your life better, so making space for younger people. We’ll also see flexible retirement, so taking career breaks in our 30s or 40s when we can make the most of them, rather than wait until later in life to actually live.”
Lab-grown meats, synthetic and fortified products will help save the environment but also our bank accounts and our health, says Burks. “We’ll be able to buy doughnuts that can be relatively healthy because we’ll affordably enhance food with the vitamins and minerals we need.”
Clean streets will be down to robots, says Burks: “Scientists are working to train tiny robots to communicate with each other and then use them to clean our planet. The amazing thing about them is that they’re looking at biodegradable ones. We could deploy swarms of robots to gather up street and sea plastic and at the end of their lives they’re not polluting the environment themselves.”
A scarcity of natural resources combined with advances in biotech means we’ll see a rise in synthetic, lab-grown ingredients,” says Wharry. That means products won’t have a shelf-life, and re-using will be the norm: “we’ll see a second-hand industry with people reselling make-up and packaging.”
‘Expressing ourselves’ through fashion will take on a new meaning. “We will have clothing that changes colour based on your personality and mood,” says Jaana Jätyri, CEO of Trendstop. “It’s the next step of people’s desire for individuality.”
London will be a car-free city according to think tank Common Wealth. “As well as eco-friendly public transport, I predict small, fast rental vehicles like electric scooters and bikes will be even more popular in cities,” says Burks.
“As a new generation of leaders, young women in particular, come through they will want to build something better. Just as Greta Thunberg says, change is coming, whether you like it or not,” says Sam Smethers, CEO of the Fawcett Society.
Dying will be a thing of the past, as our avatars continue living for us. “AI will pick up on all of my texts, emails, social media, and see the way in which I engage with my friends,” says Wharry. “People who are comfortable with having a digital self will have to consider if that extends into their afterlife.”