16 things we learned in 2016
1. It’s not human versus machine, it’s humans and machines. As the fourth industrial revolution unfolds, experts reckon artificial intelligence and roboticshave the greatest potential, but need the most human oversight.
2. Our brains label someone as an ‘outsider’ or part of ‘our group’ within 170 thousandths of a second. The neuroscience of populism runs deep, but advances in understanding the brain could drive huge progress.
3. Young people are more comfortable with globalization than the old. Our Global Shapers Survey of over 26,000 young people revealed them most concerned with upholding open ideals of global citizenship, and worried about corruption, climate change and a lack of opportunity.
4. Social media is completely transforming politics. But we don’t know whether it is a complete threat to democracy, or not.
5. Mediocre is the new normal. At least as far as economic growth is concerned. That was the view from top economists, looking at the world from China, just after the UK voted to leave the EU.
6. Economists’ tool boxes are emptying. According to the Global Competitiveness Report, monetary stimulus doesn’t work if economies are not competitive, and innovation is increasingly important.
7. Some countries are more innovative than others: Singapore, Finland, and Sweden amongst them.
8. But the best countries for living both well and sustainably are neither rich nor European.
9. There may be some easy ways to boost growth. Like giving eyeglasses to those who need them.
10. We won’t have gender equality in the workplace until 2186. Yes, 2186: 170 years from now as progress slips backwards.
11. The global economy is failing 35% of the world’s talent. Our Human Capital Report found that only 65% of people are fulfilling their potential through education, skills and work.
12. Skills are changing. Fast. Many of the 10 most in-demand skills didn’t even exist a decade ago, but some very basic human traits, like sharing and negotiating, will never go out of fashion.
13. The future of finance is blockchain. This technology, perhaps the buzzword of the year, is set to revolutionise how money flows around the globe. Other emerging technologies set to shake up the world include the Internet of Nanothings.
14. Emerging markets will power global growth next year and beyond.China’s economy is gliding smoothly off its peaks; Africa’s growth story is only just beginning; India’s progress will be powered by manufacturing; and innovation is transforming Latin America.
15. In 2016, and probably for all eternity, people wanted to know what would make them more successful, happier, and better leaders.
16. And… being bored is good for you.