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The Power of the Individual

The Power of the Individual

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Published by BT Let's Talk
BT Global Services’ Foresights look ahead,
exploring how emerging trends in technology, economics and society will help us all to use the power of connectivity to build a better future.
We are entering the Global Century of the
Individual, when – empowered by growing
connectivity – individuals across the surface
of the planet will begin to leverage new powers.
BT Global Services’ Foresights look ahead,
exploring how emerging trends in technology, economics and society will help us all to use the power of connectivity to build a better future.
We are entering the Global Century of the
Individual, when – empowered by growing
connectivity – individuals across the surface
of the planet will begin to leverage new powers.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: BT Let's Talk on Apr 01, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/25/2013

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Foresight series
Power of the individual
Harnessing a revolution in empowerment
 
2Power of the individual
BT Global Services’ Foresights look ahead,exploring how emerging trends in technology,economics and society will help us all to use thepower of connectivity to build a better future.We are entering the Global Century of theIndividual, when – empowered by growingconnectivity – individuals across the surfaceof the planet will begin to leverage new powers.The infrastructure for the global Internet hasbeen in place for some years. However, whiletechnology can change overnight, humanbehaviour adjusts much more gradually. In thecoming decade, it will become apparent howconnectivity will transform life and possibilitiesfor individuals on a truly global scale.The Global Century of the Individual will unleashhuman creativity to an unprecedented degree,extending prosperity and eroding the distinctionbetween the developed and the developing worldfurther and faster. Long-established relationshipswill rebalance, with connected individualscommanding new authority over governmentsand enterprises.Change, by its very nature, brings new challenges.The Global Century of the Individual will requireorganisations to fundamentally rethink how theyoperate and behave.But we believe that the rise of the individual,driven by a surge in connectivity, will lead toa better future. Yes, governments and enterpriseswill need to get smarter. But get things right
and they’ll be able to tap into – and prot from
- a world in which technology creates moreprosperous, healthy and happy lifestyles.
This paper explores that better future.
 
Power of the individual3
Dystopia/Utopia
We have a strong tendency to view the future withapprehension, and even fear.
For much of the last century, lm and literature has revelled
in visions of a dystopian tomorrow. Huxley’s
Brave NewWorld
. Orwell’s
Nineteen Eighty-Four
.
Blade Runner
.
TheMatrix
. More recently,
The Hunger Games
.What connects them? An unbroken thread that runsthrough each imagined future - a culture premised on apessimistic notion that, while technology will surpass our
wildest expectations, it will inevitably stie the freedom
of the individual
ii
.More often than not, future technology is seen less asa blessing than a threat, enabling ever-greater repressionat the hands at the hands of governments andcorporations. The spectre of the technology itself loomslarge – in the future, self-conscious machines alwaysseek control.This tendency seems surprising. In fact, in the developedworld (apart from some notorious setbacks) humanity’sstory has generally been one of increasing individualfreedom. From politics to purchasing, individuals havemore freedom – more choice - than ever before.
Connectivity and the birth of the Global Centuryof the Individual
Technology has always played a vital role in the increaseof individual freedom. Most recently – and arguably mostdramatically – in the form of the internet.The BT Better Futures paper
Connected Intelligence:unlocking opportunities in a world of scarcity
iii
, describesthe cumulative effect of ubiquitous connectivity. In aworld where everyone and everything can be networked,‘Connected Intelligence’ emerges.That paper explores how everything being networked
will mean more streamlined, efcient and responsive
processes. This paper looks at the other side of the coin:what does Connected Intelligence mean for people? Howwill the inexorable rise of the individual manifest itself across the globe, and what will it mean for governmentsand businesses?In the developed world, Connected Intelligence is alreadychanging how individuals behave as consumers: increasingchoice and making us more demanding, more expectant.That’s true whether we’re consuming products or services;whether we’re buying a new pair of trainers or booking anappointment with a doctor.As employees, it is freeing us from our desks, the computersand software our employers force upon us. Often, it makesus more productive.As citizens, we’re getting unprecedented access to how weare governed, transforming our relationship with politics,our representatives and the services we access.Social media has given us new ways to organiseourselves, and the tools to hold enterprises andgovernments to account.Today the connected individual, empowered by accessto Connected Intelligence, is a largely phenomenon of thedeveloped world. In the coming decades, the connectedindividual will become a truly global phenomenon.This will usher in the Global Century of the Individual.
In 2012, for the rst time, the United Nations’ Human Rights
Council declared that internet access was a basic human right
i
.This underlines the amazing contribution that web connectivitymakes to the power and freedom of the individual.”
Peter Smyth
BT Research and Technology

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