2021 Tech Trends Report

Discover the most dangerous and weirdest tech trends for 2021 and beyond...

Hello folks, happy Friday! We have a special edition today in which we’ll dissect the recently published 2021 Tech Trends Report from our friends at the Future Today Institute. FTI’s founder Amy Webb joined us last year to talk about 2020’s report, of which you can listen to below, so we’re super excited to learn about what lies ahead in 2021 and beyond!

#70 — Amy Webb (Future Today Institute)

Before we start, be sure to check out yesterday’s Inside The Middle East as we dissected the latest news from the region including the UK government being investigated for keeping secret the number of women that have had their citizenship revoked due to joining ISIS.

Also this week, we gathered and published 40 Covid-19 datasets and will be adding more as we find them. Monday’s job board update included more than 1,750 active journalism jobs and internships, and last call for a free annual subscription courtesy of Patient Anonymous/Agent Anonymous/taking other names.

If you like what you read, please consider supporting us with a subscription. Okay, let’s do this thing!

Job Corner ✍️

Below is a preview of the 375 new postings including at the likes of ABC Newsthe BBCBusiness InsiderESPNthe Financial TimesMLBNBANPRSky NewsThe AtlanticThe GuardianThe IndependentThe New York Times and The Washington Post

If you’re a paying member, your jobs sheet link will remain the same. If you’re interested in a free trial, reply to this email and we’ll hook you up!

New Realities, Synthetic Media, News and Information

We’ll start with some diminished reality (DR), which is an offshoot of augmented reality (AR) that focuses on suppressing elements in our physical environment, rather than enhancing them. If (like us) you’re asking WTF diminished reality actually is, it can be defined as the ability to conceal, eliminate, or make objects transparent.

Normally used in image or video post-production to remove unwanted objects, DR can be combined with AR to create mixed reality (MR), which blends physical and virtual reality together. Our brains are already tired...

Other key trends to watch out for:

Full Report

Video: Towards mobile diminished reality

5G, Robots and Transportation

5G is the mobile network that enables data to travel across a network in a single millisecond, but clearly that’s not fast enough. Despite only just being rolled out, 5G’s successor, 6G, is already being researched and developed.

Around a decade away from being installed, 6G could be around 100 times faster than its predecessor, so we won’t even try to work out what percentage of a millisecond it will take to transfer data. If your phone (like ours) only has 4G, we feel you, we support you and we will be right beside you when you decide to bury your head in the sand.

Other key trends to watch out for:

Full Report

Work, Culture and Play

Among the most concerning trends is the plight of black tech professionals, who are paid on average $10,000 less than their white colleagues. The diversity gap is not new to the tech industry, and numerous companies including Amazon, Google and Facebook joined the calls that black lives do indeed matter. But when it comes to actual action, little has been done: Between 2014 and 2020, the share of Facebook’s black and latinx employees rose by less than two percent.

A Harvard Business Review report suggests tech firms can remedy their salary and diversity inequality by letting go of geographic biases, and instead focus on where talented individuals actually live. For example, Georgia and Florida are just two states with affordable cost of living that also play home to a deep pool of diverse talent.

Other key trends to watch out for:

  • eSports: Advanced ecosystems have allowed new academies to be launched to train professional gamers, and has also created a new industry for commentators and content creators.

  • Makeup: Celebrity artists are selling AR filters to use instead of actual makeup for video calls and social media posts.

Full Report

Health and Medical

One sector that’s managed to remain relatively untapped from Big Tech is healthcare, though that will change very soon. The global pandemic has shown just how important innovation is if we want to live long and healthy lives, and as FTI states, “health care is the next battleground for big tech companies” that is “ripe for disruption.”

One example of crucial innovation already taking place is the development of video games to treat certain conditions and diseases. Though the technology has been around for years, government bodies are only just catching up, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year approved the first video game-based therapy for young children with ADHD. That said, playing video games in excess can of course have serious health effects, something we don’t have confidence certain tech companies will care enough about.

Other key trends to watch out for:

  • Sleep tech: The market to help us sleep is growing, and could be worth more than $30 billion by 2026.

  • Amazon: FTI predicts the tech giant has the most comprehensive plans to disrupt the $3.6 trillion U.S. healthcare industry, forcing pharmaceutical companies and insurance firms to evolve or go out of business.

Full Report

Government and Policy

This year started off with a bang after Twitter permanently banned former U.S. President Donald Trump from the platform for inciting violence. Trump is just one of many users to be deplatformed to fight disinformation and extremism, and FTI predicts the contentious debate over whether private companies should have the right to regulate public speech will grow even louder.

The New York Times suggests this is due to a lack of government intervention, but under new U.S. President Joe Biden, regulation might be on its way. FTI predicts the Biden administration will take more aggressive measures to put the breaks on the power of big tech companies, starting by appointing actual academics and scientists into key federal government positions, instead of mainly former business executives that served in the Trump administration.

Other key trends to watch out for:

  • Cloud Neutrality: Ever wondered who controls the cloud? The answer lies in the hands of a small group of companies. Expect to hear more about ‘cloud neutrality’ in 2021 and beyond.

  • China: The world’s second largest economy will continue to nationalize its big tech companies in pursuit of cyber sovereignty.

Full Report

Blockchain, Fintech and Crypto

FTI is backing the continued rise of digital currencies, for example the likes of Bitcoin, Dogecoin [insert word here]-coin. And so are countries. Central banks around the world are piloting Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), which are digital sovereign currencies that aim to regulate the booming blockchain industry and modernize the most outdated areas of global finance. The Atlantic Council and Belfer Center put together this delightful map, which allows you to select a country to find out more…

Other key trends to watch out for:

  • ESG: Environmental, social and governance goals will drive blockchain adoption and investment.

Full Report

Privacy and Security

Increased remote working has made the workforce more vulnerable to privacy and security breaches than ever before. Tools to monitor employee attendance and productivity using biometric data collection have caused uproar among employees whose companies are using surveillance that violates their privacy. PwC, for example, came under fire for using facial recognition that requires employees to provide a reason for any absences, including toilet breaks. Daniel would be in deep shit.

Another concern for businesses is the surge in cyberattacks during the pandemic, which cost the global economy approximately $445 billion, or almost 1 percent of global income. Cyberattacks are also becoming more invasive, with hackers looking to steal sensitive intellectual property such as vaccine codes and DNA records. Still, 75 percent of businesses still don’t involve their directors in cybersecurity oversight.

Other key trends to watch out for:

  • CyberSleuthing: Also known as doxxing, internet users revealing the identity of other people online is on the rise.

  • Internet of Things: Cyberattacks are also on the rise due to increased connectivity among home internet networks, but sufficient security has not followed.

Full Report

Home Automation and Consumer Electronics

Following the growing Internet of Things industry is the surging Home of Things market, driven by rapidly increasing demand to work, learn and exercise from home. FTI uses the term ‘GAA Homes’ to signify the imprint Google, Amazon and Apple have in our homes, who seemingly control most if not all of our devices and appliances. Despite this, government regulation to protect us from security and privacy breaches persists to be too weak, if it exists at all.

Other key trends to watch out for:

  • Sentient homes: As the HoT market expands, our homes will continue to adjust temperature, sound and light without consumers touching anything.

  • Rollables: Expect to see screens that can unfurl and retract, taking over from products that merely fold.

Full Report

Energy, Climate and Space

Onto some climate predictions next, and with the rollout of large-scale green investment in the EU, UK, and U.S., new green business opportunities will be plentiful. The UN recommended that green fiscal policy should also play a central role in government responses to the pandemic’s economic fallout and be integrated into any recovery plans. 

This year is also an important one for space missions, thanks to the ongoing exploration of NASA’s Perseverance Rover on Mars, which hopes to determine whether life ever existed on the Red Planet. Multiple spaceflights to the moon are scheduled in 2021, SpaceX will continue to launch rockets with mixed success, and the Juno probe will continue to explore Jupiter. Meanwhile, China is preparing to dominate the fledgling space economy, causing tensions with the West.

Other key trends to watch out for:

  • Innovative energy: Research is well on the way to unveiling everything from AI-powered smart grids to million-mile batteries.

  • Climate emergency: The economic consequences of climate change have encouraged increasing numbers of startups to mitigate the crisis.

Full Report

Biotech and Agriculture

Last up is genome sequencing, which is the process of analyzing a sample of DNA taken from our blood. Covid-19 accelerated funding and research into the capabilities of manipulating our DNA, which certainly has some benefits. For example, we can now identify rare diseases and treat them before it’s too late, and screen our close relatives to check if they too have a similar illness.

But like most things with great potential, without logical regulation, our imaginations (and desire to make shit loads of cash) will get the better of us once again. FTI states that most Americans would sign over the rights to their DNA for a measly $99, and you can sequence your entire genome for just $299! Anyway, our brains hurt and we’ve done enough futurism for one day. Thanks for making it all the way to the end!

Other key trends to watch out for:

  • Vertical farming: Indoor farming that use artificial light and AI deliver 10 to 20 times the total yield of traditional farms, while producing far less waste.

  • Bug protein: The market could eclipse $1 billion annually by 2023.

Full Report

Video: Would you have your genome sequenced?

That’s all for this week. See you Monday for new jobs and internships. Have a nice weekend! 👋