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We asked some of the boldest thinkers what the world will be like in 50 years. Here’s what their answers tell us about the future.

Sponsored by
Noam Bardin

Noam Bardin

CEO, Waze

Noam Bardin has served as CEO of Waze since March 2009, and through its acquisition by Google in June 2013. Hailed as one of Business Insider's 100 Stars of Silicon Valley in 2013, Bardin previously co-founded Deltathree Inc, a leading international VoIP service provider, where he worked in senior leadership for 10 years.

  • What kinds of companies will be the most important?

    • I envision mission-driven businesses dedicated to improving the world will be the most important companies in the future. In 50 years, climate change will be the biggest challenge humanity faces. Somewhere between now and then, climate change will stop being a political issue and become an accepted threat to humanity. This will lead to the birth and rise of companies addressing this significant issue. I expect the following types of companies will lead the charge:  

      -As water becomes a scarce resource, companies producing it from a variety of sources will become critical for survival. 

      -A variety of carbon capture, solar reflection, and other global cooling companies will emerge. Energy companies will be forced to support dwindling natural resources. This will benefit water and carbon capture companies, as well as cooling technologies.

      -We will see new types of transportation companies that will significantly change the way we move people and goods around the globe. Our current model of privately-owned vehicles that are single-occupancy and fuel-powered leads to crowded roads and creates an unnecessary increase in carbon emissions. As more transportation companies develop solutions that address climate change, we will see a transition toward shared vehicles and electrification—transportation as a service and a new regime for how we share the roads.  

      -As we all move away from owning assets to leasing them on demand, sharing economy companies will drive much of the economic activity. This trend will have a massive impact on retail, business, transportation and on-demand delivery.

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  • How will we communicate with each other?

    • We have seen technological developments disrupt the ways we traditionally communicated with each other and go about our daily lives. Social media has changed the way we develop communities and has connected us with people we otherwise would never have met. We’ve already seen this most notably in areas like job recruitment, dating, and event organization. Online communities are going to continue to play a major role in how people come together. In fact, it will likely be the primary factor in bringing people together. I am starting to see this firsthand with Waze Carpool. We’re hearing about neighbors and co-workers who previously did not know each other, connect and help each other get from point A to point B. Our future society is going to see more online communities transition into the real world, and digital platforms will be the mechanism used to forge real-life human interactions.

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    • How will we get information?

      • The most significant change in access to information will be moving from a pull to a push.  Instead of us asking for information, we will have information pushed to us, as needed, just in time. Infinite storage capacity combined with unlimited data feeds and sophisticated AI algorithms will predict our needs better than we can. Massive databases can combine data on billions of people and give us answers to questions we have not even thought of, but should. While this can lead to massive efficiencies, it assumes we are all, at the essence, the same. We like to think of ourselves as unique, rational, different, creative, and special but all these concepts will come under threat as data proves to us that we are not. 

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      • What forms of transportation will we use?

        • In 50 years, we will be deep into the major transportation revolution we are starting to see today. Imagine a world where you can transport anyone or anything, at near zero cost, to any location. This will be possible thanks to shared vehicles, drones and automated delivery vehicles. As carpooling and shared vehicles proliferate, we will have less traffic and be able to utilize our cities in a more efficient manner. This will lead to: 

          -A better spread of housing. As commuting becomes seamless, we will see more distributed, smaller communities. 

          -A total transformation in food production and preparation—we will transition from restaurants, kitchens, and farms, to local, automated/robotic farms located within our communities. These farms will prepare what we want as we want it, which will include picking the vegetables, preparing the food, and distributing it to our homes. 

          -A major change in our homes—we will replace kitchens and garages with livable space.

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        • What will our borders be like?

          • Megacities will continue to rise, as more people follow job opportunities and an urban lifestyle. This will mean even more congestion and limited space. To accommodate this demand, we will see a major increase in the sharing economy. Whether it be office spaces, homes, or cars, we should expect to see more and more people willing to share space with their neighbors and colleagues. The good news: we will find ways to meet the demands of these megacities. Thanks to technological developments, like IoT sensors and applying real-time data to more efficiently operate our cities, we will be able to meet the increasing demands of megacities while improving public systems, such as water, sewer, storm drainage, electrical power, and telecommunications. 

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        • What will our most valuable resource be?

          • I feel that human capital, but the right kind (educated, creative, motivated), will become the most scarce resource, as automation will erode traditional human capital value. Automation will need to save us from a shrinking society as birth rates drop and the job opportunities for traditional labor go away. Countries able to acquire, retain, and expand their educated human capital will be the most powerful ones, not the ones with large and traditional consumer bases.

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          • What technology will bring about the biggest change in society?

            • The first phase of the internet was about software and virtual innovation. The second phase (from now to the next 50 years) will be about optimizing, sharing, and changing the physical world. This will take longer, but have a much more substantial impact on our daily lives. Transportation will undergo such a change, as companies work to move the marginal cost of delivering anything or anyone to zero. Another area that will experience a major change will be food production. We will see a shift toward local, automated and cost effective farms. Artificial meat will also replace the need for raising livestock since we will just grow the meat instead.

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            • What’s your best prediction for the world in 50 years?

              • In another 50 years, I predict even greater and more seamless collaboration between public and private organizations. In the future, we’ll pair crowdsourced data from private companies with information from public entities for faster problem solving and improved city planning. There are numerous companies, including Waze, seeing just the tip of the iceberg for this type of partnership. With Waze, for example, our community of more than 120 million monthly active users willingly share information, whether it be through driving or flagging roadway hazards. By combining crowdsourced and local municipal data, we are able to reflect the most accurate road conditions, find optimized routes in real-time; calculate arrival estimations; and, equally as important, help municipal partners inform future city planning decisions. I expect more and more private and public sector groups will engage in similar practices in the coming years. As the world continues to generate massive amounts of data, I hope we can all come together to combine our data in a transparent and ethical manner to build a better future.

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