One critical component of humanity is communication. This is the focus of Industry Division J. From the age of Gutenberg until the closing stages of the 20th century, this industry was dominated by publishing words in physical form. Think newspapers being sold from the corners of city blocks, think university libraries and the neighbourhood book store. But now, this industry is dominated by the displayed word — on laptops and smartphones. An industry that has changed so much and so quickly. And that is what this article is about — change. What could happen in terms of careers and business in this industry. It’s a futurist’s take on how things might pan out over the next 10 years or so.
Specifically, though, the future of this industry is viewed through the lens of climate change and computerisation. For these are the two global megatrends that are shaping much of the world as we know it. There are other global megatrends, increasing technological convergence for example (giving rise to terms such as GNR [genetics, nanotechnology and robotics] and NBIC [nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science]). But the influence of these other megatrends on the information media and telecommunications industry is not as significant as climate change and computerisation have.
About the global megatrend of climate change
At a high level we can easily list the ways that the rising atmospheric concentration of green-house gases has changed our world — earlier start and later finish to the summer season, and an increase in the temperature and acidity of the ocean. Another consequence of climate change is rising sea levels. And it is this particular outcome that has an impact at the local level. For example, the ecosystems of estuaries are increasingly at risk as a rising sea pushes more saltwater upstream. It is a similar story with coastal aquifers
However, unless there is significant and globally systematic reduction in the volume of global GHG emissions (currently sitting at about 50 billion tonnes of CO2e annually), significant weather events will increase in intensity, sea level records will continue to be broken, and surface temperatures will continue on the upward trajectory. All impacting life as we know it (eg. on current projections, somewhere between…