When you’ve had multiple spells as the world’s wealthiest man, it’s safe to say you can tell what could be (or will be) based on minimal historical context. Businessman William H. Gates (a.k.a. Bill Gates) is renowned for his visionary leadership, a virtue he exemplified by steering Microsoft through testy times and repositioning the company as a resilient force for the foreseeable future.
It’s no wonder then that executives and ordinary people worldwide are eager to listen to a man who seems to know how to interpret the times, alongside having the results to back it up.
Here, we’ll explore Bill’s top five predictions for next year in the face of growing interconnectedness and reverberating action. In other words, the world is plagued by problems common to all tribes and tongues, making cross-border collaborations necessary to build solutions successfully.
- Predictions That Will Define 2022
According to one of the wealthiest men alive, the following is more or less a blueprint of how the future of humankind looks. We’ve captured them across five broad points:
- #1 — mRNA Vaccines Will Be the Most Important Outcome of the Pandemic
Despite the high tide of opposition, mRNA vaccines have come to stay. The best part is that the impact of this scientific breakthrough will outlive the current pandemic.
COVID-19 put the world on its toes as regards medical research. Even with the Omicron variant of the virus throwing new curveballs that the current body of knowledge does not cover, more information is emerging as to the efficacy of vaccines or prior infection.
That said, there are better tools and information bytes to deal with potentially harmful variants than at any other time in the history of the pandemic. Discovering the variant earlier than Delta was possible because of improved genome sequencing investment by one country (South Africa).If more countries chimed in, the multiplier effect of finding variants quicker positions the world to anticipate and deal with the emergence of new virus strains.
Mr. Gates believes that despite being more potent than flu, the lethal effects of COVID-19 could easily be halved or better contained than current efforts have achieved.
- #2 — Trust is Necessary for Effective Collaboration on Big Issues
The world is no longer a global village just because we can communicate using digital technology. There are more collective challenges than we faced ten or twenty years ago.
While we eschew individual solutions in favor of communal or group approaches, Bill Gates suggests bringing down all walls of distrust to surface and implement solutions as quickly as possible. The pandemic has exposed the power of global cooperation and innovation. Therefore, instead of lockdowns, life has quickly resumed across many spheres of society on all continents.
Trust is especially essential in getting people to support major novel initiatives aiming to resolve crises of significant proportions. Bill cites the 2021 Edelman Trust Index that shows trust declining at an alarming rate worldwide. Unfortunately, most people don’t trust governments, so they find it easy to blame them when something terrible happens within their system.
Gates supports the idea that since social media is at the root of the deepening distrust and division in societies today, government regulation is necessary to determine what use an individual or other entity can put the technology to.
The billionaire goes on to suggest that governments may apply similar rules that control what airs on television to determine what’s off-limits on social media. He admits, though, that it’s important to collectively decide how this should work and how to enforce it.
Unless we fix the trust problem at the most basic level, it’ll stifle even the most innovative solutions. Restoring trust in the system requires installing the right leadership, especially in a democracy.
- #3 — The Climate Conversation Will Inform Us on the Right Path to Progress
Change is only possible by a collective decision, but it’s not promised. A collective decision is only possible through conversation. Conversations are one part of the tenacity equation that produces eventual progress.
Conversations at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, made it possible to provide the tools for collaboration towards avoiding a climate fiasco.
When conversations are enthusiastic and feature concrete commitments, Bill Gates believes we can have a society where introspection and adaptation become the order of the day.
There are now new commitments to invest in clean technologies, lower methane emissions, outlaw deforestation in a decade, and help farmers adapt. These are not accidental feats; they are the outcome of deliberate and painstaking activity by everyone who cares (which should be all of us!) to ensure that climate change becomes urgent in our daily conversation and policymaking.
The conversation approach is crucial in combating many of our problems in the global comity.
- #4 — Digitization Will Play a Bigger Role in How We Live and Work
All of life did not grind to a halt at the height of the pandemic. Instead, we embarked on the long road ahead by employing innovative technology to work and live. Physical commerce and office work gave way to advanced e-commerce and remote work, respectively. As a result, the pandemic proved to be a blessing in disguise, creating tomorrow faster than we could have imagined only months before.
In 2022, expect more digitization of the manual methods you’re currently using for anything. Bill highlights the potential for continuous experimentation that will inevitably cause a paradigm shift in productivity and everything else that could improve.
The emerging workplace is a picture of digitally-powered collaboration, and there’s the bandwidth and software to make even bigger strides in 2022. Virtual reality (VR) will alter more industries in 2022 than probably the last half-century combined.
- #5 — Education Will Embrace Digital Tools to “Build” a New Kind of Student
Besides Gates’ ruminations, it’s clear to see that in-person education is quickly relegating to the past. The concept of remote learning won’t be as alien in 2022. More digital tools are helping kids, and high school students learn regardless of their location.
Affordable hardware and software are necessary to effectively have students in class as and when due. But, it should be a minor bother to narrow the access gap even more. Growing participation is vital to designing successful learning digitization programs.
Increasingly dynamic curricula will adapt to specific learner needs and be more responsive as the demand for digitization grows. However, Gates emphasizes that physical classrooms will not disappear. After all, e-books have not spelled the death of dead-tree books.
Therefore, greater digitization of learning in 2022 will be an excellent supplement to the classroom experience. Both teachers and students will benefit much from learning digitization in 2022.
- Are We There Yet?
In closing, we borrow the title for the popular Ice Cube movie. The paradigm shift from the pandemic cuts across everything humankind has been familiar with for decades. But, expect it to be more extensive than Bill Gates or anyone can capture.
Digitization will significantly influence healthcare, and non-pharmaceutical interventions or NPIs have become a real thing. Travel restrictions due to the omicron variant are a case in point. It’s, therefore, certain that 2022 will feature significant adaptations using the tools that the pandemic has gifted us — as uncomfortable as the times have been thus far.