3 predictions for the next 25 years

The online version of The Observer (an information outlet from the UK) offers 20 predictions for the next 25 years . This is essentially a collection of 20 short articles which look into the future of all sorts of things. These don’t feel like crystal-ball gazing, but there is a good bit of the limited-perspective guess going on. The accuracy of these predictions is not dependent on the specifics so much as the trajectory.

I think this first one is right on.

FROM “Geopolitics: ‘Rivals will take greater risks against the US’ —

By 2030, the world will be more complicated, divided between a broad American sphere of influence in Europe, the Middle East and south Asia, and a Chinese sphere in east Asia and Africa. Even within its own sphere, the US will face new challenges from former peripheries. The large, educated populations of Poland, Turkey, Brazil and their neighbours will come into their own and Russia will continue its revival.

Customers crowd into a department store in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. China will continue to rise in the coming decades. Photograph: Chinafotopress/Getty Images

Not really a stretch to say that China will play an increasingly important role in the world. Still, we need to get used to this idea and see it in terms of the opportunities instead of just the threats.

This next one brings some new-to-me thinking that got my attention and makes sense. I’ve started to wonder recently when we will all grow too weary of the constant high-pitched whine of advertising and product marketing. Did you know about this generic packaging discussion?  Interesting idea.

FROM “Advertising: ‘All sorts of things will just be sold in plain packages’–

In 25 years, I bet there’ll be many products we’ll be allowed to buy but not see advertised – the things the government will decide we shouldn’t be consuming because of their impact on healthcare costs or the environment but that they can’t muster the political will to ban outright. So, we’ll end up with all sorts of products in plain packaging with the product name in a generic typeface – as the government is currently discussing for cigarettes.

Advertising in Tokyo. Photograph: Mike Long / Alamy/Alamy

I’m not a gamer myself, but I have a lot of friends/colleagues who are. I’d not thought about all the good that could come from it beyond some of the most obvious things. In some ways I find this exciting. The phenomenon of cooperative game v. competitive game is fascinating. I know it speaks more to my own wiring.

FROM ‘Gaming: ‘We’ll play games to solve problems’–

Then there will be problem-solving games: there are already a lot of games in which scientists try to teach gamers real science – how to build proteins to cure cancer, for example. One surprising trend in gaming is that gamers today prefer, on average, three to one to play co-operative games rather than competitive games. Now, this is really interesting; if you think about the history of games, there really weren’t co-operative games until this latest generation of video games. In every game you can think of – card games, chess, sport – everybody plays to win. But now we’ll see increasing collaboration, people playing games together to solve problems while they’re enjoying themselves.

I suppose there are these types of forward-peering articles at the turn of each new year. So, am I paying more attention because I’m older? I am certainly asking myself with greater urgency what all of it means for the Church and for Wycliffe. What can…what MUST we be doing now to remain relevant through the changes?

One thing it tells me is that our future leaders much have a greater capacity for change than we do–even though I think we have a greater capacity for it than those who have gone before us. We probably can’t teach these emerging leaders those skills because they were practically born ahead of us in this part of the game. We can, however, pass on values if we can get the essential, eternal values untwisted from our non-essential, time-bound, situational values. There’s a good challenge for a new year.

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