In early 2015, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, declared a call-to-action for future UAE governments, businesses and citizens to take heed of. His message was clear: “Innovate or Stagnate”.
Fast-forward the clock three years and this inspirational declaration is still reverberating around the UAE. We are beginning to see these words transforming into reality, and a key initiative which embodies that message is the newly-created “Government in 2071 Guidebook” (Gov2071). Profound yet realistic, there is inherent value in establishing a futuristic agenda.
And, from a communications and media industry point of view, Gov2071 presents a striking array of distinct challenges and possibilities.
The three pillars of Gov2071 — The “Digital Connectivity Era”, the “New Exploration Era” and the “Techno-Humanitarian Era” — plant the seeds for innovation, technological shifts and societal adoption to tech-synergies. In response to this forecast, it is worth considering how the future of these interactions might look for communication and media in light of evolving global, societal and technological mega-trends.
The digital connectivity era (2018-2030)
By evaluating the variants affecting trends in this era, it’s clear that technological advances are already beginning to percolate the internal fabric of the communications sphere. The current manifestation of AI will become further realised through myriad developments, including Virtual AI assistants, Connected IoE devices and augmented reality platforms.
A global example of this unfolding can be witnessed through “New York Times”’ adoption of machine learning to moderate comments sections to identify and eliminate suspicious comments appearing in online comment threads. From a UAE perspective, we are already beginning to harness AI potential in line with Smart City visions and initiatives aimed at embracing tech innovation to create seamless, safe, efficient and happy experiences for all.
The new exploration era (2030-2050)
The era projects an escalation of enhanced AR that overlays data and augmented perception to conquer enhanced human capability. At the crux of these pioneering leaps, enhanced augmented reality (AR), big data connectivity and virtual reality environments will undergo advanced improvements.
Leading this charge, Facebook has already begun exploring enhanced AR capabilities through the submission of a patent application for a “waveguide display with two-dimensional scanner”. Such developments could drive our communications and media sectors to adopt hardware with improved user-centric interfaces and design in place of smartphones and traditional PCs to facilitate a raft of AR solutions.
The Techno-Humanitarian era (2050-2071)
At the peak of the projected 50-year thesis, my personal view is that communication will be omnipresent in the merging of innovation through vast developments in enhanced augmented reality (AR), augmented implants and Space-net.
The Gov2071 Guidebook’s forecasted insights suggest information could be sent through brain implants enabling humans to simply blink for their auditory and visual nerves to upload and download files. Brain implants could also instantaneously search information about smart city services at the cue of a thought.
If that wasn’t enough, future communities of the UAE could be living in space or underwater.
These ruminations may be hard to envision, but it’s worth considering how the unification of digital and physical lines of reason could enhance human life through advanced interactions.
How can the UAE ready itself for transformation?
In his 2015 address, Shaikh Mohammed added that: “The key to corporations’ rejuvenation, civilisations’ evolution, and human development in general is simple: innovation. It is the recipe for human survival and development, the fuel for constant progress, and the blueprint for a country’s rise.”
Innovative communication and media sectors will play a prominent role in shaping the lives and interactions between citizens, companies, countries, even galaxies. But the first step towards preparing for mega-trends requires a shift in mentality: We must either choose to cherish innovation or perish.
Abdulwahed Juma is Executive Vice President of Brand and Communications, du.