How did our predictions from last year fare? Highlights from culture, technology and travel.
Our annual Future 100 report dives into the trends, innovation, and cultural changes that will drive the next year. How did last year’s predictions fare? Below, we look back at our most accurate predictions in culture, technology and travel.
Taming tech’s influence (#9)
The uncontested reign of Big Tech is over. Pressure to regulate Big Tech reached a fever pitch in 2020, with newly implemented rules and proposed laws around the world to curtail and redistribute the power of tech titans.
- In a groundbreaking lawsuit, the US government sued Facebook in December 2020 and is calling for the breakup of the social media company. “Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition,” says Ian Conner, Director of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Competition. “Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”
- The four Big Tech CEOs—Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google—were called to testify in front of Congress in July 2020 to justify their business decisions, in what the New York Times referred to as tech’s “Big Tobacco moment.”
- The EU is planning a landmark law that would impose new rules on tech giants in an attempt to “restore technological sovereignty,” The Telegraph reports.
- The UK is creating a tech regulatory body within the government. The new Digital Markets Unit plans to issue customized codes of conduct to Facebook, Google and other tech giants, with fines of up to 10% of the company’s global turnover if they fail to comply.
- China introduced new regulations in December for Asian tech giants Tencent and ByteDance, in an effort to create a “healthy” internet economy.
- In November, Chinese regulators forced Alibaba-owned fintech company Ant Group to stop what would have been the world’s largest share offering in history.
The privacy era (#17)
The Privacy Era is upon us. Over the past year, the call for digital protection has escalated, making privacy a cornerstone of cultural cachet and something on which brands are increasingly staking their reputation.
- Privacy—rather than publicity—is becoming a mark of achievement and prestige. “Privacy has become the ultimate status symbol,” Elle declared in October. “After years of overexposure, the chicest thing you can do right now is completely disappear.”
- Apple is standardizing privacy labels in the app store. As of December 8, the tech company requires that all app developers include “nutrition labels” on their products to explain at a glance what information is collected from users.
- The UK is cracking down on YouTube’s data collection. The streaming platform is facing a legal battle for collecting children’s data without parental consent.
- COVID-19 contact tracing apps are coming under scrutiny from privacy advocates. An October survey of nearly 500 COVID apps around the world revealed a privacy minefield; the survey found that 44% of COVID apps on iOS asked for access to the phone’s camera, 32% asked for access to photos and 22% asked for access to the microphone.
- In November, Apple and Facebook took shots at each other’s privacy policies, with each accusing the other of unsavory data collection practices.
Biocontributive travel (#21)
Mitigating harm is no longer enough; the latest travel initiatives prove that the future blueprint for climate-friendly travel includes active contributions to the environment.
- Denmark will be getting its first climate positive hotel next year, thanks to architecture firm 3XN and their sustainability think-tank GXN. The firm will be adding a new wing is being built onto the existing Hotel Green Solution House (Hotel GSH), scheduled to open in 2021, which will be constructed from carbon positive materials.
- Intrepid Travel partnered with Offset Earth to launch a subscription service in January 2020 that helps travelers offset their carbon emissions.
- Intrepid Travel has also created a seven-point plan to become a climate positive company, offsetting 125% of their carbon emissions.
- A luxury conservation-based resort in Australia is putting climate restoration on the guest itinerary. After bushfires in 2019 wiped out most of the property’s 7,000 acres, Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley reopened in 2020 with a slate of activities that invite guests to help restore the local ecosystem. Guests can plant trees, accompany trained field guides as they do wildlife and habitat assessments or kids can join educational clubs to learn how to protect and regenerate local flora and fauna.
Main image of Hotel GSH, courtesy of 3XN and GXN