As we edge closer towards 2012, there is a palpable feeling that there is an exponential compression of time and a corresponding increase in possibilities. The last few years have been tumultuous in many parts of the world.
As society races ahead, several trends are emerging in developed society. We have been witness to the birth of the 7 billionth person. We have the largest disparity of wealth the world has ever seen, and information technology has allowed this fact to be spread and analyzed thoroughly by everyone, it is no longer a sneaking suspicion. And developed nations around the world are rapidly ageing at the same time they are engaging in short sighted risky behaviors for the long term health and sustainability of their societies
We are reaching the upper limits of Earth’s carrying capacity, for the modern industrial paradigm. From every side when can see the seam of societies garment stretching as energy demands begin to outstrip supply, water is used faster than it is replenished, climate change looms, the global oceanic ecosystem threatens collapse, and our global economic system starts to reveal its short comings.
At the same time never have there been more scientists alive today, and more information and communication technology (ICT) has never been more effective. The realm of cross-pollination between artists, and thinkers, as well as technicians is remarkable as well. Most importantly the general population has never been as educated, and in possession of such powerful tools.
In this vein Dr. Seang-Tae Kim, President of the National Information Society Agency (NIA), South Korea, and noted futurist, policy shaper, and deep thinker, recently traveled to the University of Geneva to address some of these issues. He stresses, that a, “human-orientated and technology development are the two elements serving as the key to solve risk factors in the future society and drive social development, further leading to evolvement of the future society into a people power society.”
He noted that we are living in a speedy era in terms of technology development and social environment. The future society is expected to be a smart society, which is driven by explosive smart phone usage. In he presentation, he discussed the definition and preparation of the smart era , and introduced and illustrated through some examples of smart work, smart government, and smart life. He suggested some important and inspiring ideas for the preparation of a smart society.
Over the past few years, Dr. Kim has studied 51 major future foresight reports, and analyzed them in their entirety, identifying “15 mega-trends of future Korean Society” based on the future possibilities and mega-trends that will be at the core of our society. These 15 mega-trends bear much significance to understanding the paradigm shifts for the future society. And he believes his findings have much potential to be applied not only in Korea, but also other countries, too.
The four key factors that are driving the 15 mega-trends are: ‘People-oriented’, ‘aging’, ‘high-danger society’, and ‘technological advances. He writes that, “aging and a high-danger society, are risk factors leading to higher costs and budget increases, and is indicative of the High Risk Society characteristic of the future society. On the other hand, a more people-oriented trend and technological advances are factors that act as keys in solving the various threat elements to the future society and social development, enabling the future society to evolve into People Power Society.’”
Observing that in an aging and high-danger ‘High Risk Society,’ simply increasing budget expenditures by a state-driven management of national affairs is no longer effective, because in a ‘High Risk Society,’ demands for high quality services for people rises significantly and thus leads to an increasing of financial debt; he proposes the solution to this problem lies in the other facet of future society, or ‘People Power Society.’ Through innovation by an‘open state management paradigm based on creative people power,’ the economic crisis and deficit problems the nations of world are facing can be resolved.
He recommends a new national strategy that focuses that is value based, emphasizing, happiness, sustainable, fair and just, creativity and imagination.
More specifically, in order to realize the future values centered around the future society keywords, the Dr. Kim prescribes the following four concepts to guide the direction of the new national development strategy.
“ First, ‘Happiness of the People’ strategy to maximize the value of humans in an aging and people-oriented society;
Second, ‘Joint Growth’ strategy to minimize social conflicts and allow people to live in harmony in an aging and high-
Third, ‘Creative Power Nation’ strategy to strengthen human creativity by utilizing the potential of technology, and;
Fourth, ‘sustained development’ strategy to lower risks and enable sustainable growth and development in a high-
danger society through the use of possibilities afforded by technology.”
He says that in order to realize these ‘4 strategic directions,’ the foremost and critical tasks that need to be put into practice include building diverse ‘ICT-based Open Platforms’ for all facets of society, and facilitating ‘new value creation’ and ‘open innovation’ in the whole society.
Emphatically writing, “The core of Smart Society is ‘Creative People Power,’ in other words, the power of individual creativity. The key to the national development strategic directions lies in promoting open state management based on open platform to realize low cost, high quality nation led by creative people.
In the coming smart age, a new ICT vision that goes beyond the expansion of ICT infrastructures, and enables the construction of a ‘Creative People Oriented Smart Society’ to realize happiness of the people, joint growth, creative power nation, and sustainable development is needed.”
Dr. Kim has written before of the power of social media to make a positive impact finding that the expansion of mobile services made possible by the emergence of smart devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs is bringing about a smart revolution in our lives, and these IT advances are gradually changing the fundamentals of the whole society.
This has facilitated the diffusion and take-up of social media, which emphasizes ‘participation, sharing, and communication’ has brought revolutionary changes in the way governments, businesses, consumers, and individuals communicate with each other.
Dr. Kim points out that the mass media of the past provided one-way information to the public from information creators, but with social media, individuals consume and create information simultaneously, acting as “pro-sumers.”
The real-time and accelerated nature of social media enables the spread of news and issues faster than any other media and has a huge impact on not only individual lifestyles but on the whole of society including such areas as politics, economics, and culture
And concluding that social media is the best mechanism and tool to enable ‘People Power.’ In other words, an open platform such as social media can be the basis upon which to encourage creativity and imagination of the people, and through the use of this ‘People Power,’ we can bring innovations to the whole of society, including politics and economy.