The future of software and society

Learn more about the major trends that are enabling us to connect and invent in new ways.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software and Society identifies software and services megatrends. Deep Shift: Technology Tipping Points and Societal Impact examines trends that are shaping society, and their associated opportunities and risks.

The six megatrends

People and the internet

How people connect with others, information and the world around them is being transformed through a combination of technologies. Wearable and implantable technologies will enhance people’s “digital presence”, allowing them to interact with objects and one another in new ways.

Computing, communications and storage everywhere

The decline in the size and cost of computing and connectivity technologies is driving an exponential growth in the potential to access and leverage the internet. This will lead to abundant computing power being available, where everyone has access to a supercomputer in their pocket, with nearly unlimited storage capacity.

The Internet of Things

Smaller, cheaper and smarter sensors are being introduced — in homes, clothes and accessories, cities, transport and energy networks, as well as manufacturing processes.

Artificial intelligence and big data

Exponential digitization creates exponentially more data — about everything and everyone. In parallel, the sophistication of the problems software can address, and the ability for software to learn and evolve itself, is advancing rapidly. This is built on the rise of big data for decision-making, and the influence that artificial intelligence and robotics are starting to have on decision-making and jobs.

The sharing economy and distributed trust

The internet is driving a shift towards networks and platform-based social and economic models. Assets can be shared, creating not just new efficiencies but also whole new business models and opportunities for social self-organization. The blockchain, an emerging technology, replaces the need for third-party institutions to provide trust for financial, contract and voting activities.

The digitization of matter

Physical objects are “printed” from raw materials via additive, or 3D, printing, a process that transforms industrial manufacturing, allows for printing products at home and creates a whole set of human health opportunities.