Chicago Ideas Week Day Four looked toward the future, as thought leaders from a variety of fields shared their views on China’s prospects, cybersecurity, longevity and aging and more. After our afternoon “Wildcard” Talk delighted the audience by revealing surprise speakers like Guiliana and Bill Rancic, the night exploded into creativity with Talks featuring emerging and legendary talent, from Master of None’s Lena Waithe to 4:44 producer No I.D. Read on for the seven things we found out about the future on Chicago Ideas Week Day Four.
China Will Continue to Grow, But May Fall Behind
Day Four kicked off with a question: “Is China the New World Superpower?” Although panelists pointed to many economic strengths, including China’s strong base of skills, they had trouble reaching a definitive “yes” answer. Cracks in its education system—including an unfair advantage for urban students—lead to mass drop-outs, while innovation can be a challenge since independent thinking is lacking.
The Good News: People Will Live Longer, Better Lives…
These days, 65 is truly just a number anymore, with Americans living longer and staying healthier than ever before. At our “Redesigning Life: What Happens When We Live to 100?” Talk, the Chicago Ideas community heard about current and future technologies that will make the aging process even better for tomorrow’s seniors. Advancements like video-chat doctor visits will mean better care for those with mobility issues, while driverless cars will make it easier and safer for others to get around. And it’s a good thing, too, with the number of people living to 100 and over having increased by 44 percent since 1990.
…But the Bad News Is That Your Hospital Might Get Hacked
At our Talk “Hacking Our Defenses” cybersecurity expert Joshua Corman painted an alarming picture of the potential for hackers to hack medical equipment. Although there are a lot of advantages to having wireless medical equipment like heart monitors and respirators, the combination of a high number of connected devices and lack of cybersecurity experts employed by hospitals means that they’re particularly vulnerable to an attack. To make matters dramatically worse, most hospital machines use an outdated operating system (Windows XP!) that makes it extremely susceptible to hacking, viruses and even nonmalevolent forces. A hack could have the potential to steal patient vitals, endanger lives and even shut down an entire hospital for a week or more.
Food Will Evolve
One of this year’s surprise guests at our “Wildcard” Talk was Dr. Irwin Eydelnant, an expert in the future of food. Eydelnant, who began his talk by intoning “Every mouth in this room today will transform the world tomorrow,” said that not only will the ways we experience food and how we make food change in the future, but that the very nature of food itself will change. Large data sets will be able to determine what food people will like, plant-based proteins will better emulate animal ones and food itself may be more nebulous, much like Eydelnant’s famous edible clouds.
Connection Will Be Key
In a world where it will be increasingly easy to feel isolated, connecting with those around us will never be so important. Participants at the “Mural Painting with Matthew Hoffman” Lab did just that as they helped Hoffman paint a new “You Are Beautiful” mural. As Austin locals leaned out of their car windows to say thanks to the popular artist and his helpers, one participant explained, “I go ‘You Are Beautiful’ hunting because it’s always a great reminder that my self-worth is more than my job. I’ve suffered from depression and the ‘You Are Beautiful’ signs always lift me up.”
All Stories Will Be Represented
At our powerful event “A Seat at the Table: Finding Equal Footing Through Storytelling,” #blackgirlmagic was on display as branding innovator Bozoma Saint John, Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth and writer & actress Lena Waithe sat down with journalist Robin Givhan. Waithe, fresh off her Emmy win for Master of None, said of her success, “Because I’m a person in the public space, they go, ‘What about Lena?’ My name is on the list now. The truth is, there’s a million Lenas. My job is to make sure I’m mentoring and pushing those people forward.” Welteroth had similar views on her audience at Teen Vogue: “It’s not just me I’m bringing to the table, it’s an entire community that hasn’t been spoken to,” she told Givhan. With digital reach, streaming services and other new ways to reach audiences, more and more opportunities are being presented for black women to tell their stories. The audience was enraptured by the strength, wisdom and joy of the dynamic trio, who spoke about the importance of remaining true to yourself and your chosen identity in order to reach your highest potential.
Creative People Will Thrive
Earlier this week at our “Future of Work” Conversation, panelists agreed that as the workplace becomes more technologically advanced, creative work will become more prized. Perhaps no one could better exemplify what a truly creative spirit can bring to the world than No I.D., the legendary producer and a driving force behind Jay-Z’s new album 4:44. In a rare interview, he spoke candidly about collaboration, chasing a truly authentic and genuine sound rather than money, and the importance of having fun and being humble. “I treat it as if I’m just a new young kid. I don’t take time to celebrate. I don’t even do interviews…but I have a soft spot for Chicago,” he said as he took the stage. He went on to speak about his commitment to the next generation, saying, “I believe that music is the number one teacher of children’s minds right now….We have this responsibility that goes beyond making money, it goes beyond caring about ourselves and our circle.”