50 Grand Challenges For The 21st Century

50 Grand Challenges For The 21st Century.

This long read by the BBC Future walks us through various experts’ opinions on the top 50 Grand Challenges for the 21st century. The 50 responses have been categorised under the following headings: artificial intelligence, cities and global development, health and humanity, energy, and future of the internet, media and democracy. Now more than ever, the future is fast-moving, complicated, increasingly immediate. We cannot keep thinking about the future as a far-off intangible. Today, things move so quickly, that the future already is happening, and already affecting us. And in many ways, we are struggling to adapt quickly enough. That’s why today, we’re launching Grand Challenges II – a continuation of our original series; a comprehensive guide to today’s big problems and mega-trends.

This series by the BBC in future will tackle several issues. One would be water, and not just how climate change is threatening our most fundamental resource for survival, but also explore the unexpected ways water is a social issue, a political issue, an energy issue, even a gender issue – and how clean water scarcity triggers a host of problems, from disease outbreaks to government feuds. Another issue concerns our eroding sense of privacy, especially living in what some call a “golden age of surveillance.” As more and more humans get internet access worldwide, and as more and more of our devices are connected to other devices – and to the databases of huge corporations – the right to a sense of anonymity is at risk. Most people don’t exercise best practices when it comes to safeguarding their identity. The topic of automation is another grey area where the ethical concerns of who’s programming this technology, the safety concerns of working alongside machines with minds of their own, and the surprising benefits that being a human has when it comes to outperforming even the cleverest, most precise, number-crunching superbot. The near future also demands greater attention to a range of rapidly-evolving issues: an explosively growing global population, the complicated relationship between governments and nuclear power, the fight for worldwide gender equality, and more. We live in a rapidly-changing era of almost infinite potential. But to make sure we will fulfil that potential, we need to fully understand the challenges we face. Credit: BBC

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