Daniel Franklin is the executive editor and business-affairs editor of The Economist, editor of The Economist's annual publication on the year ahead, The World in... .and editor of Megachange.
Four decades ago no one could foresee how lives would be changed by the internet, AIDS was as yet unknown, the Soviet Union was intact and Apple and BlackBerry were still just fruit.
The next four decades will be just as full of the unexpected—probably even more so, since we live in an era of particularly rapid change. With so much uncertainty about the future, what’s the point of predictions? Or, put another way, isn’t it crazy to produce a book called “ Megachange: The World in 2050 ”?
Actually, it is not as crazy as it seems, for a number of reasons. First, when you decide to focus on big trends, on the things that are likely to matter most for years to come, you have to cut away the clutter. You may be wrong about what the world will be like so many years from now, but you certainly get a sharp perspective on the world as it is today, and how it is changing—whether it be the great economic shift to Asia, the soaring quantities of digital data being produced or the health implications of a rich world that is growing older and fatter. Looking far into the future gives a clearer view of the present.
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