A glance into the crystal ball of science and data to prepare for the post-pandemic year
“Only the unknown frightens men,” says the French poet, journalist, novelist, and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This is why we cannot help but foretell the uncertain future through patterns, connecting even the most disparate dots to create order and find meaning in our random universe. No one predicted that 2020 would turn out the way it did. For that reason, more than ever, we try to anticipate tomorrow so we could deal with it in the best way possible. Then there’s the fact that speculating what’s to come has also been mankind’s greatest past times.
The year 2022 was a downhill struggle with the escalation of the Russo-Ukranian War, the stock market plummeting on its way to the second financial crisis, and the unrelenting Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to upend life for everyone. Trend forecasting and analytics company WGSN, however, has found that Gen Zs are optimistic toward 2023, calling it a year of energy and healing.
Here are important trends based on online studies by futurists and other professionals in their respective fields, so we can better understand and map out the year ahead.
Let’s get phygital: Bridging tech and man
The coronavirus accelerated our transition to the digital age, pushing forward in a giant stride innovations and developments, from augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) to artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and other transformative technologies, which worked around the restrictions of lockdowns. With the industry thriving the most, it is an exciting period to be involved in the tech space.
Machine learning or AI, in particular, is a pertinent topic today, touching everything from chatbots to self-driving cars, and even art, a controversial subject right now with AI-generated works receiving flak from artists all over the globe, the likes of Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki and Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro.
The trend is your friend. —Martin Zweig
Experts also perceive the metaverse to become more immersive this year in the sphere of entertainment, gaming, retail, and communication. This comes as no surprise, considering the skyrocketing interest in the virtual concept from last year.
The direction, hence, is for businesses to adopt AI and create “intelligent enterprises,” where processes and systems complement one another to make tasks easier.
Further, in the Philippines, business speaker Francis Kong doubles down on the importance of taking care of people, honing talents and creative thinking in this modern numbers-oriented world.
Amid the health crisis, employers saw a large movement of talented people referred to as quiet quitting and the great resignation with the workforce reassessing the impact of their jobs with what they want to get out of their lives. Companies that offer an enticing work environment, culture, flexibility, growth and learning opportunities, and are value-oriented would emerge at the top.
Last, because of its efficiency, hybrid and remote work is here to stay.
Food for thought
People are now more health conscious thanks to Covid-19. The plant-based industry remains relevant with Datassential’s 2023 Food Trends revealing that 40 percent of consumers plan to purchase plant-based meat products in 2023.
In the Philippines, Filipinos are becoming more curious about food. Diners also value authenticity over shortcuts, which means slow food and fine dining would become even more in demand than it was the past year. This doesn’t mean that nostalgic and feel-good eats are out nonetheless.
Green is in
The world is increasingly grappling with familiar—sometimes too familiar—challenges such as sustainability. Our biggest problem, second only to the pandemic, is putting a halt to carbon emissions to keep the escalating climate crisis from reaching the point of no return.
From cutting-edge methods of recycling and manufacturing electric vehicles to new modes of transportation and carbon capture, the desire for technological solutions for a cleaner world is becoming more and more desperate.
According to futurist and author Bernard Marr, corporations need to ensure that their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) processes are moved to the center of their strategy.
We can count on the continued progress around green hydrogen, a new clean-burning energy source that produces almost zero greenhouse gas emissions. Two huge European energy firms, RWE and Shell, are constructing the first major green pipeline from wind plants in the North Sea.
Gaining momentum among Filipino youth, on the other hand, is climate activism with young environment rebels leading the charge for climate justice and solutions to the climate catastrophe.
Meanwhile, the Philippine government is working on addressing the issues that delay the broader application of renewable energy technologies, facilitating the participation of the private sector, and encouraging investments in the development of renewable energy sources through the comprehensive National Renewable Energy Program.
In travel, ecotourism is hot in the country, bringing a gross revenue of $9.31 billion in 2019. It remains a consistently growing aspect of the tourism scene.
Less but luxe
And since AI is in, chief marketing officer of Canadian communications company Mitel, Venkat Nagaswamy, believes that the said expert system will be replacing search engine optimization (SEO)-focused content, “So much so that we will have a content glut in a couple of years, and we will eventually come back to basics, focusing on higher quality but lower volume of content,” he says.
So writers, harness your skills! You might have entertained the possibility that good writing has raised the white flag to clickbaits, fake news, sensationalism, anti-intellectualism, and non-writers stirring the pot, but no. Quality trumps all. It is for all seasons. Even the most vapid of readers are realizing they have better things to do with their time than scrolling down a sea of lies, attention-seeking, likes-harvesting, and very, very bad English.
What lies ahead is uncertainty, and that is why we can really only count on good things.