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By 2039, the world will look and feel very different.
The rate of change is itself speeding up.
And 20 years from now power will have shifted dramatically.
So who might be up and who might be down, twenty years from now?
Let me take you on a journey of possibles.
Up, Africa.
A rapidly increasing population could fuel Africa's surging economic growth.
With a pool of young, better educated and globally connected workers.
But the biggest revolution in Africa might be the spread of vast, super arrays of far cheaper solar panels.
To quote one energy guru:
"The world will have learnt to put solar panels where the sun actually shines."
Also up, China.
THE superpower.
After cornering many of the worlds vital raw materials, could it now control both its own people and many other countries struggling to repay its loans.
Could we see a world where China exerts its influence through movies and music too?
But if there are winners, which countries could be losers by 2039?
Down, perhaps most of Europe.
Financial services and banking will be overwhelmingly driven by AI.
So Europe loses much of its global edge.
Parents who once urged children to become lawyers and doctors, beg them to become designers, artists, even actors.
Anything creative, not easily done by robots.
Down but not out, the United States of America.
Eclipsed by China and paying a price for getting late to wind and solar.
Also down, the Middle East.
Largely ignored internationally because no one needs its oil and gas anymore.
So what commodities could be driving the future in 2039?
Fossil fuels have become the new forbidden fruit.
Oil has lost most of its value, alternative fuels plus a collapse in the use of plastics has seen to that.
Water, clean water, will be more precious than ever.
Water wars have replaced oil wars, along the Nile or any mighty river.
Conflicts could break out as states closest to the sea fight those further upstream, accused of taking too much of the water.
Data, however, will be king.
By 2039, more and more is being bought and sold.
Mostly illegally and in secret.
All governments will rely on data as THE method of control.
Some countries will have followed the Scandinavian lead.
By choosing near total transparency—of tax returns, earnings, lifestyles to reduce the secret data threat.
And more and more citizens everywhere could be fighting back—becoming data refuseniks.
Fed up with the negative effects of social media, will they simply abandon cyber space wherever they can?
Minimizing their electronic footprint even reverting to writing and delivering private messages by hand.
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Which countries will hold the power in 20 years' time? | BBC Ideas

1865 Folder Collection
Celeste published on July 8, 2019    Celeste translated    Evangeline reviewed
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