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Information and choice: nine reasons our future is in the balance

The respected investor Jeremy Grantham claimed recently that economic growth has slowed systemically and permanently in recent years. He states that: “Resource costs have been rising, conservatively, at 7% a year since 2000 … in a world growing at under 4% and [in the] developed world at under 1.5%”
 
Over the last year I’ve been struck by several similar but more widely applicable sets of data that, taken together, indicate that a similar restructuring is taking place across the world: for example, more information was recorded in the last 2 years than in the entirety of previous human history; and 3D printing and social media are reducing the scale at which it is economically viable to carry out what were previously industrial activities. 
 
The world has changed; but it is also unequal; Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz wrote recently that the financial machinery of the United States and the UK in particular create considerable inequality in those countries.
 
Data and technology, appropriately applied, give us an unprecedented ability to achieve our long-term objectives by taking better-informed, more forward-looking decisions every day. They tell us more than we could ever previously have known about the impact of those decisions on our broader society and economy, not just ourselves. 
 
That's why the "tipping points" I've written about in a recent article on my blog matter to me. They translate my general awareness that I should "do the right thing" into a specific knowledge that at this point in time, my choices in many aspects of daily work and life contribute to powerful forces that will shape the next century that we share on this planet; and that they could help to tip the balance in all of our favour.
 
 
The 9 tipping points it identifies are:
  1. The slowing of economic growth
  2. Urbanisation and the industrialisation of food supply 
  3. The frequency and impact of extreme weather conditions
  4. Exponential growth in the world’s most powerful man-made resource, digital information
  5. the disappearing boundary between humans, information and the physical world
  6. The miniaturisation of industry
  7. How we respond to climate change and resource constraints
  8. the end of the average career
  9. Inequality
I hope you enjoy reading it and look forward to your comments,
 
Regards,

Rick
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