Please see below emerging trends on a variety of topics.
- Apple's App Store’s reach has become very extensive. Users spent $1.8bn on apps between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve in 2020. New Year’s Day saw a single-day spending record of more than $540m on the platform. Given the exponential growth in sales, the platform’s implied economic value is expected to hit $1 trillion within two years, noted Exponential View.
- Manmade materials now weigh more than all living things. The discrepancy is only likely to get worse. According to a paper in Nature, in 2020 the mass of all human-made objects worldwide exceeded for the first time that of the living biomass, which includes all plants, trees, animals, and insects.
- NASA selected 18 astronauts who will head to the moon. The group, which will blast off in 2024, includes the first woman who will set foot on the lunar surface.
- After spending hundreds of millions of dollars, Uber threw in the towel on its self-driving car project. Yet the sector is making clear progress forward, with e.g. the team at Cruise revealing its first self-driving vehicle.
- Humans have long domesticated other species but, in what might be a first, a non-human vertebrate has domesticated another animal, reported Exponential View.
- Xin Xiaomeng, is a virtual newsreader developed by Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency. Unlike a human newsreader, Xin can read the news millions of times per day, and deliver a different bulletin to each viewer depending on their interests.
- With large areas underserved by public transportation, and urban car ownership often more trouble than it’s worth, Quartz analysed the rise of the micro-mobility industry, whose ethos is: small is beautiful - referring to both the trip and the vehicle. This undersized focus could have an oversized impact on the way we move, the sustainability of our transport, the way we design our cities, and how we move from point A to point B.
- Some things come back full circle, With content fatigue now a thing and people unable to decide what to watch, Netflix trialled a more traditional linear channel programme. Perhaps with too much choice and too many decisions to make in everyday life, we actually don’t mind someone else programming and suggesting what we watch,
- SpaceX launched four astronauts into space. The successful lift-off marked the first operational flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which was scheduled to dock with the International Space Station after a nearly 28-hour trip. The mission marked a major step towards commercialising space travel.
- Remote working could lead to more prejudiced views as people fall into "isolated silos" when not meeting others from different backgrounds in the workplace, suggested a study by the Woolf Institute of 11,701 workers in England and Wales which showed that work plays a significant role in people meeting and establishing friendships with others of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. The data showed unemployed people are 37% more likely to only have friends from their own ethnic group and that three-quarters of those employed worked in ethnically diverse settings.
- Business travel may never fully recover post-pandemic, according to a survey across nine countries by Oliver Wyman. 63% of respondents planned to travel for leisure at least as much as before the pandemic. But 43% expect to travel less for business due to health concerns and the effectiveness of remote work. Even in its most optimistic scenario, the management consulting firm didn't see business travel recovering before 2023.
- Big Tech offered us a deal and we took it, claimed New World, Same Humans - e.g. Amazon launched a range of new services, including an autonomous mini-drone for the home. At the heart of those services is a deal. We customers get convenience, Amazon gets unprecedented access to our private selves: homes, conversations, even heartbeats. That deal runs through much of what Silicon Valley has done to transform our lives across the last 20 years. There’s even a name for all this: surveillance capitalism.
- Couples are increasingly adding fines for breaching coronavirus rules to their wedding budgets, according to Greater Manchester's deputy mayor for policing. In England, weddings are limited to 15 guests. Fines start at £200 for the first offence but are halved for prompt payment. It has led those organising wedding celebrations to factor the charges into budgets.
- Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has been leading a radical overhaul of the city’s mobility culture since taking office in 2014, embraced the notion of reshaping France’s capital into a 15-minute city. The concept, which was developed by Sorbonne Professor Carlos Moreno, advocates the creation of a city of neighbourhoods, in which workers find everything they need in terms of work, retail and leisure within 15 minutes of their home. In a work context, this would see offices added to neighbourhoods that lack them so people could work closer to where they live. There would also be local co-working hubs, enabling them to come together for meetings and to collaborate when necessary.
- Crowdsleuthing is the practice of internet users banding together, typically unbidden, in an attempt to solve mysteries and crimes (and occasionally to take justice into their own hands). The core concept isn't particularly novel, finding one of its origins in the anonymous tip lines like Crime Stoppers that gained popularity in the '70s, or the Unsolved Mysteries TV series, which premiered in '87. But with the emergence of social networks and digitised media, public involvement has increased exponentially, and has become more complex and consequential.
- Synthesis is an Amsterdam-based wellness retreat claiming to offer the world’s first commercial psychedelic depression therapy. The treatment is medically supervised by a leading clinical psychologist at Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research, who uses psilocybin-infused truffles, which are related to magic mushrooms and legal in the Netherlands. Patients enter a 13-month course that includes monthly group therapy and a five-day retreat with two psilocybin sessions. Since the release of a groundbreaking study in 2016, more and more scientific research points at the medicinal and therapeutic benefits that psychedelic mushrooms can have on patients suffering from depression and other mental illnesses. A commonly cited reason for why psilocybin, the main psychoactive component of magic mushrooms, can be so effective is that it can ‘unshackle’ patients’ minds - enabling them to see things in a different way, consequently leading to lasting shifts in their mindsets.
- Vinyl records are more popular than compact discs. Sales of records in the US surpassed CDs for the first time since 1986.
- Consumers may start to seek an antidote to vast and toxic online communities and social media platforms. They’ll embrace smaller and more intimate digital spaces that facilitate respectful and meaningful connections, let them interact with like-minded peers and allow them to truly be themselves.
- When sustainable alternatives are widespread, affordable and just as good or better than the legacy option, then eco-consumption becomes less about the status of opting in, and more about the shame of opting out. That’s why in the future millions of consumers may seek out products, services and experiences that help them alleviate rising eco-shame.
- More young adults are moving back in with their parents in the wake of the coronavirus. 52% of young Americans live with their parents. The last time people cohabitated like this was during the Great Depression, noted Future Today Institute.