Yet the same technologies that made possible the achievements of the past century have also had a host of unintended consequences. The fossil fuels that generate two-thirds of our electricity and power almost all of our transportation have polluted our soil, water and air, causing respiratory diseases, damaging ecosystems and changing the climate. Large-scale agriculture has made it possible to feed ever more people, but this gain has come at the expense of biodiversity, and given rise to crops that are more vulnerable to disease. And though more digitisation has increased efficiency in everything from healthcare to traffic control, it has also exposed us to violations of privacy and security.
As we strive to move to a new and better paradigm – one in which the needs of today are balanced against the needs of tomorrow – we look once again to technology to drive our transformation. Yet it is clear that a ‘business as usual’ approach to technology will not get us to a safe and sustainable future fast enough. Given the pace of global warming, resource degradation and demographic change, time is rapidly becoming the most finite resource of all.