Last week, Ford Motor Company joined TED to host a trends summit with TED fellows Karim Abouelnaga, Esra’a Al Shafei, and Mitchell Joachim.
As the year comes to the close, Ford is getting geared up for the next year with its annual Trends Report. Now in its sixth year, Sheryl Connelly leads the project that looks ahead by examining the developments of this year and seeing what’s moving forward. She’s the in-house futurist at Ford a unique position that often requires a creative mind and extraordinary forethought. For this year’s trend report, Ford tapped TED, the network for speech opportunities and action to aid in developing the report. It serves as a culmination of a year-long collaboration between the two companies. Some highlights in the report were presented by TED Fellows and Connelly during a summit at TED Headquarters.
We learned that we’re at technology’s tipping point. An important take-away is how many different forms of technology are innovating at such high rates and from all sides, forcing us to be conscientious and sensitive to the developments and how they’ll affect quality of life.
Esra’a Al Shafei is a human rights activist based in Bahrain. She noted that this year, governments have cracked down on blogging about taboo subjects. And embracing facial recognition and fingerprinting adds an element of data that you can rarely decline as they are immediate and pressing. Governments are keen on accessing specific tools that are designed to secure anonymity. Anonymity is a powerful tool that can go both ways. It enables people to engage candidly and often, opinions held are engaging and motivating. However, anonymity can bring the worst in people, even though those opinions are unsavory, are they still valid? And to which audience? Even vocal “activists” can be using the platform of activism to spread truly poor approaches. It is in the interest of corrupted political agendas.
The following talk dealt frankly with race in America and net worth in the United States. There’s no question that 2017 served as year in which realities varied wildly. But conversations on income and race often shift into shouting facts and show major disparity between the 1% and the rest of the world. But this speaker was interested in building equity. The speaker ultimately touched on something truly interesting: what its like to engage with foundations, grants and non-profits, which will be major players in building human equity as the government falls short. Often we find ourselves on the giving side of nonprofits but this is a demonstration of what it is like to develop within a network of nonprofits only to develop their own.
During the panel discussion, Connelly engaged the TED fellows. Meditation and “mental health days” are exciting efforts to improve the wellness of employees. Disparity in wealth is one of the most concerning developments for designer and urbanist Mitchell Joachim. The every day American feels attacked by robots and people who don’t look like them. The final, most concerning trend was having high mental endurance to be tolerant of people who are committed to their personal interests. That extends to corporate interests and profit maximizing by way of low wages. Ford has a living wage contract with all suppliers to ensure that incomes are fair. Perseverance is essential in turbulence.