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2018 Megatrends, and How They’re Shaping Our World

2018 Megatrends, and How They’re Shaping Our World

Reading time: 5 minutes

While at CES in Las Vegas, HP CTO and Global Head of HP Labs Shane Wall mapped out a vision for the future.

Predicting the future isn’t easy. Technology’s history is littered with smart people who’ve gotten it wrong - from Thomas Edison, who said in 1889 that “no one will use AC electricity, ever” to a former CEO of Blockbuster, who dismissed the notion of streaming video.
As technologists, we have to look not just at the latest tech but what forces will shape humanity in the future. That’s why our vision for innovation at HP® is informed by Megatrends - transformative global forces that will have far-reaching impact on businesses, societies, economies, cultures and personal lives around the world.
In HP® Labs’ 51-year history, we’ve driven technological innovation as the industry has moved from mainframes to personal computers, the internet to smartphones, global connectivity to what we call blended reality - the merging of our digital and physical worlds.
As we look ahead not only to next year, but the next three, 10 and 30 years, we’re using our understanding of Megatrends as a beacon to guide our way.
There are four overarching Megatrends we’re focusing on:

Rapid Urbanization

Globally, more people are moving to cities, so future cities will be larger (think 10 million or more) - and there will be more of them. Meanwhile, resource constraints will drive the trend to smaller, shared living and work spaces. Emerging economies in particular will be on the lookout for innovations to help them leapfrog the limitations of their previous infrastructures, government and business models.

Changing Demographics

At the same time, demographic shifts are leading to a more pronounced population split between young and old. By 2030, a third of the global population will be over 65. This means a decline in the number of workers per retiree and pre-work age population, thus putting a strain on productivity and output. Innovations in digital health and robotics will help bridge the gap.

Hyper Globalization

Our lives and work are increasingly interconnected globally. Formerly isolated challenges and opportunities scale with connectivity, amplifying both. When everything from technology and people to industries and governments is connected, digital platforms and ecosystems reign supreme, with digital security becoming more important than ever.

Accelerating Innovation

The pace of innovation is speeding up, which is causing fundamental shifts in world economies, industries and population centers. Such rapid innovation is transforming the way people work and live nearly as quickly, leading to the creation of new jobs while displacing others. And all of our technologies will get smarter.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the face of these tidal-wave forces of change, but at HP®, these are precisely the challenges that drive and excite us. As a company, our goal is to create technology that improves lives, so given these rising megatrends, we have identified several areas of opportunity where we feel confident we’ll make significant contributions to our society and our world.
And now for a sneak peek at some disruptive technologies shaping HP®’s new 2018 megatrends report:


Nature-inspired fabrication will allow us to harness and mimic the natural processes and materials that surround us, along with technology to create goods customized for local markets and their demographics. Local, sustainable and affordable production will improve the lives of people all over the planet. Within technology, innovation that taps the power of nature - literally - is already here in lithium-ion batteries made of alfalfa seeds and pine resin.

Beyond Human

With a growing population and changing demographics that skew older, our societies and economies will increasingly depend on technology to drive productivity, tackle health challenges more cost-effectively and improve our overall quality of life.
HP is already leveraging its microfluidics technology used to power Inkjet printing to help reinvent drug discovery. Our bio-dispensing systems enable drug research labs to improve the speed, efficiency and precision of in-lab drug trials, so scientists can more rapidly develop optimized drug mixes and doses to combat diseases.
And these early steps are just hints of how profoundly technology is poised to deliver a better world.
Artificial intelligence, wearable robotics, virtual reality - all of these technologies will combine to help us accomplish more, stay healthy longer and be more productive, augmenting our natural or waning abilities in the future with personalized AI assistants, smart robotic limbs and exoskeletons, or digital health technologies such as smart pills that decide what doses we should be taking.

Frictionless Business

Various disruptive technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT), are combining to enable transformation across business processes, ranging from faster automated product creation through generative design, to the streamlining of transactions using blockchain with applications ranging from crypto currencies to smart contracts.
With 3D printing, we’re laying the groundwork for how robotics, IoT and artificial intelligence will work together to completely reshape manufacturing - ushering in an era of small-batch, made-to-order, more energy-efficient production at micro-plants located near the cities where consumers live.
This will put an end to the far-flung supply chains developed over the past century and eliminate many of the costs and pollution generated by today’s practice of shipping goods all over the planet.
At HP®, we’re inspired by these trends. With them in mind, we’re building solutions that will help businesses keep up with the skyrocketing pace of innovation and deliver advances that will improve the lives of everyone, everywhere.
This article was originally published in The Garage.

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