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DIGITAL TRENDS 2020–2030: Part 2A — The Change of Power

As we have seen before, this year’s version of digital trend spotting is special. It is now a whole decade we are looking forward to, I have on a general level previously been right in almost everything predicted so a lot will go in a similar direction, and it’s also a sneak peak on the upcoming book being released in the area. But before we look ahead, in the twilight of this incredible decade we’re just about to say goodbye to, we need to take a look in the rearview mirror. And we start with what at the macro level has crept up as the perhaps greatest social disruption of them all, that is, a total change in the balance of power between the various components of society, and thus also the goals of these components.

1) The decade when politics lost its power

For this is the decade that began so hopefully, with a brutally smart black guy at the helm of racist US and a brutally strong woman at the helm of the chauvinist EU. But along the line something happened. For this is also the decade when politics increasingly lost control. It is the decade when the liberalization really was pulled to its extreme, where also traditionally government monopolies such as healthcare, school, security and even money fell into other hands than the politicians. It is nothing but a total system change we have seen, and nowhere else can you see it more clearly than in Davos:

“The social and political system that has lifted millions out of poverty and shaped our national and global policies for half a century is failing us” (Schwab, 2018)

And, with an increasingly toothless society, it is the decade when politics, as a consequence, turned into a circus — such a ridiculous circus that dictatorship even in the western world suddenly began to take up space in discussions as an alternative.

And when politics fails and politicians can no longer be trusted, or deliver on the social contract agreed upon, there are two ways to go forward. Either you get sad and disappointed, dabble in total and seize the straw by voting on some shouting lunas who claims to have simple solutions, finds lots of people, countries and institutions as scapegoats, and who sacredly promises improvement despite not having an ounce of game plan — and also not hesitate to not only take lies but manipulated data and other states for help getting to power.

The alternative is to take the matter into your own hands. And this decade, that’s exactly what started to happen for both people and businesses, both citizens and companies. You have both taken the matter into your own hands, and wow what hands it has been about. It is no longer a question of an “invisible hand”, but highly concrete hands shaken between each other in all kindness, or as concrete fists clenched in anger to make themselves heard.

For this is the decade when what is really playing an increasingly important role, companies and citizens, has taken over as the force be counted with in society.

2) The decade when the people found their way back to their power

A first movement where politicians completely lose their minds and etiquette

So this is not just the decade when politics lost much of its power, it is also the decade when people found their way back to their power of 1789 and 1989, where a majority of the people stepped forward, both online in social media and even offline with boots on the ground.

And the abyssal difference between people and politicians has now had major consequences in other parts than just the “free world”. What started with an Arab spring of revolutionary forces on the micro level, expressed itself on the macro level with those with more looks in the rearview mirror than in the crystal ball, got a longing in panic back to how it used to be.

The consequence was the downturned revolutions of dictators in a number of countries in general and with the climax of the war in Syria in particular, all aided by other more newly created dictators such as Putin who, having previously invaded the former Soviet states like Chechnya and Ukraine, legitimized his intervention on the basis of his “friendship” that Bashar bought for oil.

And then it came, with the second newly created dictator Erdoğan on one flank, then the world’s greatest evil, Isis, is knocked down by Kurds backed by an American president, who once again showed on the total wreck of politics. But now Mr Trump is not only showing his descendants and old allies Europe his back militarily, but now he is also betraying his newer allies Peshmerga (“Those Who Face Death”), ISIS only superiors as well as highly contributing in the dethronement of Saddam Hussein and capturing of Osama Bin Laden.

That is the guerrilla soldiers made out of rock hard old men with big stomachs and even newly recruited women (yes, I have met both, and they are so far from traditional “soldiers” one could imagine :-/), who with lacking arms, communication tools and medical corps are the only ones successful in battling ISIS, and do it for their children and grandchildren to survive. With the job finally done, as a thank you Mr Trump send them directly into the gap on their old antagonists Turkey.

Anyone think it’s strange that people lose faith in politics?

The people who gather for each other

But all this has not happened in a vacuum, it has happened in a decade when the people, in the absence of strong politics, increasingly took command of themselves all over the world. It’s a decade when women in protest started to drive cars by themselves where prohibited. It is the decade when half a world of sexually abused women stepped into the limelight, and used social media to, under the flag of #meetoo, do what traditional media had failed with all years — i.e. bringing out the sexual-patriarchal troll in the sun so that they disappeared. It is the decade when an ever-growing group of donors helped in disasters and understood Aristotle’s message:

The essence of life is to serve others and do good (Aristotle, 322 BC).

And it’s a decade when even the consequences of the political failure have been taken care of by the people. Because as a result of the political conflicts, we have a record of 71 million refugees in the world. And it is no longer just about evil against people, as in Syria and Iraq. But as direct evidence of our dependence on the planet we live on, in addition 200 million people are estimated to move from their homes before the end of the century, as a result of elevated sea levels and an increasingly extreme climate — i.e. far more than ever from conflicts.

And while fewer and fewer politicians in more and more nationalist states want to welcome the refugees, I have seen an ever stronger commitment among people and, in fact, even companies, which in the ever-growing gap between politics and people, want to help as much as possible. This is a growing number of volunteers who, during this decade, have dealt with the flow of refugees we saw from the unrest in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen etc. A group of volunteers who raised money for food and clothing, as well as pilgrims to Europe’s borders to assist with the help that authorities, politicians and traditional aid agencies failed to do. All as part of a growing group of nearly 1 billion global volunteers, who contributed $ 1.35 trillion worth of relief efforts, accounting for 2.4% of the entire world economy.

That is, when politics fails, then people step in. Where we have seen such a gap between politics and people that no traditional way of handling things will ever work again.s

It is such a huge gap between politics and people that we, now in the twilight of this eventful decade, have seen how crowds have shown their dissatisfaction with Chile, Ecuador, France, Guinea, Hong Kong, Iraq, Catalonia, Kazakhstan and Lebanon. It is such an extensive demonstration wave that the world has not experienced it since 1968 and 1989, with the difference that we have now seen mass protests that have had no common goals, but focus on completely different things such as raised prices, corruption and too little co-determination, etc.

Or, simply, how the people in the absence of something that even resembles political leadership, is about to take over.

The people gathering for the planet

But it is also the decade when people understand that not only do we have to do good to each other, to other people, but that at the same time we are all part of the same planet. And as such, that it does not matter how much good we do to each other, if the planet we all live on totally collapses.

Which it is now about to do :-/

So it has, thank goodness, also been the decade in which we all, after all the countries’ politicians and global institutions failed to put an end to the climate crisis coming at us galloping speed, got a big blow from a small sharp girl who caught our eye about how little we understood, how little we did, and how we completely has stolen the future from our children and grandchildren, removing life from an entire planet — perhaps the only planet with life in the world.

How smart is that? Do you feel proud? Will you go to bed and die and think as the last thought that this world had been a little, a little better with you than without you? Nope, as it is now, you will die with shame ringing in your heart. But maybe, maybe now this 16-year-old has set in motion what you, myself and all other adults with both small and large influence should have fixed several decades ago.

She has had the children wake up, even go on strike. And the children have gone home to their parents and grandparents and wondered what the hell we were doing. And so slowly the older generations are waking up.

In the process, this girl in one year has gained 15 million followers, easily gets 4 million likes on her posts and has mobilized the world’s largest demonstration with just as many, i.e. 4 million, which went out on the street for saving the planet. And eventually came into the light as the youngest in the world to ever be named Person of the Year by Time Magazine:

“For sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads” (Felsenthal, 2019)

“We, the people”, the introduction starts with in the US Constitution. Greta has understood that constitution far better than its president and a few million more. Where, 13 million people from 228 countries within the framework of the FFF now had 75,000 strikes and demonstrations for the climate in 7,000 cities.

In just under a year.

We, the, people — that’s an understatement… and now it’s spreading like wildfire around the world. No father, mother or grandfather can ever put his head in the sand again.

3) The decade when the companies totally took over

And the fact that politicians either have increasingly left the stage, or has seen to it that the stage has become more and more like a circus, has not only been the breeding ground for people taking over. For this has been even more true when the transition has gone from the fact that these “people” also take their roles as employees, managers and — perhaps most of all — entrepreneurs. And, with a crescendo, perhaps most the entrepreneurs operating in exactly the filed what has disrupted society more than anything else in the past decade, i.e. technology in general and digital technology in particular.

The entrepreneurial nerds

For this is also the decade when we got the last nail in the coffin for “the revival of the nerds”. When I was a kid there was an expression in one of my two home countries saying “shy boys don’t get to kiss beautiful girls” (yes, I believe I personally learned a lot from that one :-D), and with the exception of a few entertainers and athletes, today it is not longer the adventurers, sport junkies, barons, minister children and wealthy heirs who “kiss the beautiful girls”.

It’s the nerds.

And even though this may even literally true, when older generations joke about how the primordial type of nerds like Musk, Zuck, Page, Brin and Bezos* would never get girlfriends like they have if they would have their peak during the 20th century, so now I’m talking in a metaphorical sense.**

For in the midst of all this, all of a sudden it wasn’t just the nerds who had the secret sauce, but above all, it was the nerds who managed to convert to entrepreneurs who became the real rock stars of society — that is, the species that is between citizens and companies, i.e. recently was the former and just stepped in to become the latter.

And since this has happened at a furious pace for the past decade, the new generations no longer dream of becoming managers in large traditional companies, but instead they dream of working in a startup, or preferably to be part of building a unicorn one, that “disrupt” the old companies. And trending to the degree that even the old companies themselves sit as masochists and compete in how to “disrupt themselves”.

And all this entrepreneurial spirit pays off. Eight of the richest people in the world have earned 80% or more of their wealth on shares in companies they founded, and the two who did not do so have catalyzed their wealth from their own companies they helped start.

Social entrepreneurship

So we can conclude that this is the decade where politicians not only lost much of their power to make a difference, but at meetings like the decades’ last, COP25 in Madrid, showed how they totally lost their control and compass towards doing the little “good” they could do — regardless if we’re talking about “saving the planet” or “saving the people”.

But in order to close the circle, it is not only the people who took the place when the politicians disappeared at the horizon, but so did the companies. So, perhaps the most promising thing regarding business in recent years is how we suddenly not only have a revival of the nerds, because in the twilight of the decade, ethics suddenly makes its entry as a comeback kid here too.

Because this is also the decade when “social entrepreneurship” becomes the hottest of all for the kids, while “impact investments” become the most credible among business angels and family offices.

And here we are many who suddenly find an institutional superstructure to dress everything in, with a “4th Industrial Revolution” (4IR) from the powerful institutions of Davos just showing a social capitalism that is both inclusive for people as it is sustainable for our planet. All with a Davos Manifesto, as a set of ethical principles even to guide companies in 4IR, where e.g. the US’s most powerful lobbying group just has signed a policy to, as the manifesto prescribes, benefit all stakeholders and not just the shareholders.

We have hade decade where CSR climbed high in the search list (although here the first 7 countries searching the most are from Asia, the first European in place 8 and the US in 36). And we’ve had a business climate where 200 billionaires gave the majority of their wealth to charity under the Giving Pledge initiative.

What we see is a world where the richest in the world now only are allowed to “kiss the most beautiful girls” with the proviso that they must be good to the people and the planet (or at least have good visions for how the former will leave the latter :-D). And while the politicians run their countries at the bottom, the super entrepreneurs build things that work as promised, with their companies assuming roles that were once reserved for the state. They deliver national infrastructure, create future jobs with their data and robots, fill the sky with its drones, their sites and apps determine which companies and individuals succeed and which don’t, while their investments in space travel can change the space.

So while the politicians seems to totally have left the ethics or lost their power to enforce it, it has been compensated by the fact that citizens and companies have increasingly adopted it and seem determined to enforce it.

But what about the means used to enforce it? More of that to come ;)

Rufus Lidman, Fil. Lic.

Rufus Lidman is one of the worlds’ top 100 tech influencers with 50.000 followers for input with emerging technology within emerging markets. As such he draws his insights from a broad tech experience as a serial entrepreneur with 6 ventures and 2–3 ok exits, background within PhD-studies within change processes, 5 books on the subject of digital strategy, and honoured to be member of the exclusive group of 0,1% companies that has developed apps with more than 10 million downloads. His latest venture is called AIAR, based in Singapore, reinventing learning for emerging markets in general and emerging Asia in particular.

* Although Bezos just had to pay extra for his, with the highest divorce agreement ever in history of $ 36 billion.

** That is, the nerds may as well be girls and kiss the “beautiful” boys, and “beautiful” may as brain be about personality as the surface, and “kiss beautiful girls” may as well be metaphor for “having fun”, “ have a rich leisure life “, or ”have a lot of freedom lr power to influence“ etc.

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AIAR EdTech PTE Ltd — Reinventing Global Learning

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Rufus Lidman

Rufus Lidman

Data disruptor with 50,000 followers. 300 lectures, assignments on 4 continents, 6 ventures with 2–3 ok exits, 4 books, 15 million app downloads.

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