The Need for Longtermism: Why We Need a Long-Term Approach to Ensure a Thriving Digital Future

The Need for Longtermism: Why We Need a Long-Term Approach to Ensure a Thriving Digital Future
👋 Hi, I am Mark. I am a strategic futurist and innovation keynote speaker. I advise governments and enterprises on emerging technologies such as AI or the metaverse. My subscribers receive a free weekly newsletter on cutting-edge technology.

The value of longtermism was brought home to me when I was travelling recently.

I was speaking to a group of entrepreneurs and investors who were interested in using technology to build the future. One of them asked me how I thought organisations should think about longtermism.

As a futurist, I replied that I thought it was important to focus on three things: future generations, externalities, and intergenerational inequality.

The person who asked the question seemed surprised by my answer. She said: "Oh, you mean climate change?"

That's when it hit me: so many people assume that we need to focus on short-term thinking because we have no choice — because we have no choice but to focus on immediate goals like making money today, hitting the quarterly KPIs, keeping our jobs, or paying our mortgages.

But what if we chose instead to think differently? What if we chose longtermism?

What is Longtermism?: Its Relevance in the Digital Sphere

Longtermism is a new approach to investment and financial practice. It is a mindset that looks at investing in long-term strategies, assets, and businesses over short-term transactions. Longtermism builds companies through investments in R&D, innovation, and brand value, not just by speculating on short-term gains from current assets to satisfy shareholders.

The term “longtermism” might be a bit vague. But that’s because it can cover a lot of ground. The phrase has been applied to a host of different things, including economic strategy, political stress, and corporate planning, amongst other factors. However, it focuses on one crucial element: sustainability.

Longtermism is the belief that businesses should consistently put the interests of long-term value creation above those of short-term realisation and management. The Harvard Business Review has been running articles about the benefits of long-term equity thinking for many years now. Yet, if you read some of these articles online, most people cite that it is a management responsibility – something only CEOs and CFOs can do. But I believe different perspectives can make all the difference, especially when trying to understand the relevance of longtermism for technology organisations.

Longtermism is something that is often discussed in academic circles, in the fields of science, philosophy, politics, psychology, journalism, and economics at the world's most prestigious universities such as Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton, and Oxford, to name just a few. But there are few practical examples of companies applying long-term thinking as in the most recent case of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia, founded by Yvon Chouinard when he decided to donate the company's total value of $3 billion to combat climate change and help prevent its long-term consequences.

Few companies keep their view of the market, and subsequently their firms, at timescales of even decades into the future, with some notable exceptions, preferring instead to focus shorter term. We are talking about companies like Ben & Jerry's; their innovative use of the company to help make the world a better place is driven by their social mission. They seek to advance human rights and dignity, support social and economic justice for historically marginalised communities, protect natural systems—and all at every level of their business. They work toward these goals through partnerships, such as those with non-government organisations (NGO's) and other experts on the causes listed above. They have been vocal and active supporters of LGBTQ+ rights, racial justice—and many other causes.

The world-famous Swedish furniture company, Ikea, has taken significant steps toward becoming more environmentally friendly. H22 is an example of this. The H22 project will take place in the Swedish city of Helsingborg and explore new living, community, and retail ideas created through collaboration between IKEA, citizens from Helsingborg—and other global partners.

There are obvious reasons for this focus on the short-term (you can, after all, be fired for losing money over a prolonged period), but it can lead to missed opportunities or wasted resources and have a detrimental effect on the long-term.

1. Longtermism vs. short-termism

Longtermism is an ideology, a set of beliefs, and values about how humans should orient their activities and efforts as groups and as individuals over extended periods of time. Short-termism, on the other hand, is when businesses focus on factors that generate profit in the immediate future at the expense of factors that may pay off over longer periods of time. The predominance of short-termism has brought about an epochal change in the world economy in recent decades and could result in further unpredictable disruption.

Short-termism is the common way of thinking in today's society, especially among politicians and businessmen. According to Icelandic philologist Árni Magnússon, longtermism was a cultural norm in medieval European societies. In opposition to short-term vision rose the idea that "longevity and posterity are of higher priority than immediate gain".

2. It means considering the long-term consequences of our actions

It can be seen in the politics of states and international relations, in corporations where long-term perspectives are possible and even encouraged (e.g pension plans, investment strategies, treasury functions), and in research projects, though unfortunately, also most governments operate have a short-term approach, driven by the next election. On the contrary, those countries that do not have to think about democratic elections tend to have a longer-term approach, think the UAE or China. Of course, this is no call for more non-democratic governments, but it shows the challenges that democracies bring that we need to consider.

Longtermism signals a conscious consideration of time horizons and is therefore distinct from a merely short-term focus on meeting quarterly, annual or election-cycle commitments — although the two may coexist where short-term performance pressures are greatest.

3. It is about thinking ahead and addressing potential issues that may arise

What do Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Charles Handy, Andy Stern, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk have in common? Yes, they are all extremely successful entrepreneurs. But it is their different ways of viewing the world that make them a force for change. They think long-term. Their business practices have embedded a process of thinking about the long-term future, and they have structured their company accordingly. It is about putting people before profits and seeing the bigger picture. It is about being innovative through collaboration and taking into account future generations.

This can be done through various strategies, such as setting up mechanisms to monitor progress over time or even putting in place legal requirements for those who make decisions at all levels to consider how they impact people's lives far into the future (i.e., when we are no longer around).

Longtermism is becoming an increasingly important concept in the business world. For instance, the B Corp certification is a standard of excellence in terms of social and environmental impact. It was developed to distinguish companies that are committed to values-led growth from those that just want higher profits. Amongst the goals of this certification is to help grow the global economy so that it works for all people, communities, and the planet.

As a society, we have always tended to address issues based on the most pressing concerns of the day. However, this can have dire consequences for future generations, who are potentially left with empty coffers and barren earth.

The same goes for technology. The good news is that technology is not static. Each day sees new inventions and new innovations, which raises a question: how can we be sure that the next technological developments will be more beneficial than the present ones? From a shareholder perspective, we would need to constantly update a product and convince them that their one or two-year-old product is ready for replacement, but would that also be the best option from a long-term societal perspective? Or should we focus our efforts on creating a technology that does not just change for the sake of change, but that this change is oriented to long-term benefits?

The answer lies in ensuring that the people who are developing these technologies have a vision of how they can be used for good purposes. If we had to rely on corporate interests alone, then things would not be looking so promising.

One way to ensure that future developments are more beneficial than current ones is by taking into account the ethical implications of a given innovation before it becomes widely used.

Fortunately, many dedicated individuals are working on projects that aim to improve our lives in different ways. This means that we have a choice about what kind of world we want to live in, and it is up to us to make it happen!

How Digital Technologies Are Rapidly Transforming the World

Digital technologies have the power to fundamentally change our world for the better. And in many ways, they already are. From improving the speed and reach of communications to enabling human rights defenders to use technology to speak truth to power, digital technologies are transforming learning, creating equal opportunities, and empowering citizens around the globe. However, serious concerns also need to be addressed as we move forward. It’s vital that we seek positive solutions while avoiding potential pitfalls.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has just released its latest report on global trends in technology, which looks at how digital technologies are transforming the world.

The report released early this month, called Earning Digital Trust: Decision-Making for Trustworthy Technologies, finds that the digital revolution has already had a significant impact on jobs and skills, but these changes are likely to accelerate over the next decade.

As well as being a major source of disruption to employment patterns and skill requirements, digital technologies will also generate new business models and new opportunities for workers. However, there is a risk that this could exacerbate existing inequalities when technology is implemented with a short-term mindset. Unless governments and employers take steps to share the benefits of technological change more widely and with future generations in mind, the effects of our digital revolution could be negative from a societal and long-term perspective.

The report makes several recommendations for action, including:

  1. Governments should invest in lifelong learning by promoting access to free online education, encouraging lifelong learning through tax incentives, and making it easier for people to upskill or reskill throughout their lives.
  2. Companies need to focus on developing high-quality jobs – not just low-skilled ones – by investing in training their employees.
  3. Governments and businesses should work together on skills development programmes that give workers access to new technologies as they emerge.
  4. Governments should ensure that everyone has access to technological systems to ensure progress and development within our societies.

The digital technologies revolution is far from over. In fact, the changes we see today are overshadowed by the potential technology holds for the future to continue innovating and transforming the way we all live and work. Even those who feel they have not yet been "digitally disrupted" in some way will someday be forced to catch up with a new wave of innovation that changes everything all over again. We have, in short, a lot to look forward to.

Digital Technology Can Make Vast Areas of Our Lives Much Better

New technologies are emerging all the time with the aim of making our lives easier. However, as each new technology is released, it is important to stop and consider its impact and advantages in comparison to the present ones.

Not many of us can remember a time before digital technologies touched our lives. Digital technologies are constantly evolving, enabling people and businesses around the world to create more with less effort and within a fraction of the time. This has given individuals the power to shape their own experiences online and offline. Making a call on your mobile phone, booking a flight or wiring a book – all once inconceivable without digital tools at our disposal.

This transformation means that we need to embrace change while protecting what we value as a society: privacy, security, safety, data protection, trust in technology systems, fairness in how they function, access for all, innovation that benefits everyone, and collaboration between governments and industry partners.

Digital technologies have the potential to dramatically improve people’s lives and the state of our planet. They can help us solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges, from hunger to climate change, poverty to inequality. But they also bring risks and challenges that must be addressed if we are to ensure a thriving digital society – one in which no one is left behind.

The world has never been more connected: 6.6 billion people own a smartphone, according to data from April 2022, representing 83.32% of the world's population. The internet has become an integral part of daily life for many people around the world, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Today, more than half of the global population uses the internet regularly, and almost 1 billion people are online for at least an hour each day, on their smartphones alone.

The next generation of digital technologies – artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotics, blockchain, the internet of things (IoT), 5G networks, quantum computing, and cloud computing – will profoundly impact how we live and work. The pace of change is accelerating as these technologies converge. This will reshape industries and businesses across the economy and create new ones. Some sectors will be transformed entirely, while others may be disrupted in ways that are not yet clear.

But this is only the beginning of their journey into our daily lives as they become embedded in more and more aspects of our lives—in education, healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture and many other areas of human endeavour.

We also require long-term thinking when dealing with technology. In previous posts, I discussed how we should think about the effects of artificial intelligence (AI) and robots on our society. This thinking may be especially important when it comes to AI because the AI advancements we build today, will still be in place decades from now. Think only about how many banks still use Cobol applications - a computing programming language developed by IBM in 1959.

We need long-term thinking because the AI we build today will be around for a long time - much longer than any human being alive today, similar to how Cobol is still in use at most banks. We need to start thinking about what kind of world we want to leave behind for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren - especially when it comes to new technologies like AI and robotics.

In addition, let's not forget that the AI we will use in the future is being trained today. And it is being trained by us, using the data we create now. How will the AI we develop today, deal with the data it will receive a decade from now?

The most obvious example of this is self-driving cars. These systems are being trained using millions of hours of data from human drivers, but this is not necessarily the best way to train them. If we want to make self-driving cars safer and more efficient, we need to give them better data.

That means giving them access to more information about the world around them — not just videos from cameras and sound recordings from microphones but also sensor readings like temperature, pressure, and location data that can help an AI system build up a better picture of everything happening around it.

AI is a technology that learns from previous experiences and adapts accordingly. We are creating more and more data every day, and this will eventually lead to better AI models that can learn faster and better than humans ever could.

This is why we should think about the consequences of our actions now - even if they do not seem like they have immediate consequences at first sight or if they might only affect us in the short term.

The Challenges Ahead

While the potential of a digitally connected world is enormous, we must also recognise that there are serious risks and challenges to overcome. The most pressing issue we face is a lack of digital skills among the poor and disadvantaged. While most people have access to at least one form of technology, including mobile phones and basic computers, millions still do not have access to high-speed internet or cannot afford it. This means that many people across the globe remain largely disconnected from each other, leaving them vulnerable to manipulation by those who control information flows—or even from their own governments.

Digital skills are increasingly becoming a part of education. However, digital literacy is not just about how to use technology, but also about how to adapt to a rapidly changing world. Education systems around the world are trying to adapt, but there's no quick fix. Digital literacy needs a long-term approach that starts with giving teachers the right tools and skills so they can teach it effectively in a continuous process that needs to be constantly updated.

The Digital Divide

The second major challenge facing us as we transition toward a more digitised society is what some call “the digital divide”—that is, inequality based on access to technology and connectivity between rich and poor countries around the world. If current trends continue unabated, then it seems likely that this gap will grow rather than shrink over time; indeed, many economists believe we are headed towards unprecedented levels of inequality in our lifetimes. These numbers highlight an incredibly important issue: there are benefits being enjoyed today at a level never seen before, but these benefits are not being equally enjoyed by everyone.

The digital divide is a challenge that can be overcome. There are many ways to address it, and many actors who are trying to do so, but we cannot expect results overnight. To bridge this divide, we need a long-term approach and strategic vision. This includes:

  1. Increasing access to digital services for all citizens, especially for those in remote areas.
  2. Making sure that everyone has the skills they need to participate effectively in the digital world.
  3. Ensuring that all people have equal opportunities to participate in society and benefit from the technology's benefits.

Other challenges that need to be considered to achieve a truly digital future include:

Data privacy and security

Let's start with an analogy: when you are planning a trip, you usually do not look at the map and think, "I'm going to walk the whole way." Instead, you plan ahead and pick different routes, depending on what your goal is.

The same applies to data privacy and security. With so much data being collected about individuals, it is essential that these are handled securely and responsibly. There are already concerns about how this data is being used, and what the implications could be if it fell into the wrong hands. One of the biggest concerns with using digital services is the fact that they can be hacked or compromised, putting your personal information at risk. The more you use digital tools, the more vulnerable you are to identity theft, fraud and other crimes like identity theft.

In addition, quantum computing makes it possible to decrypt data created and encrypted in the past. If we had thought about this problem before, many of our current problems might not have happened.

Quantum computing is a new technology, and it is still in its infancy stage, but it will have an impact on our lives in the near future.

The future of data privacy and security will depend on the correct approach from now on, and we need to start thinking about that now. We should take into account all possible scenarios regarding this topic and try to predict what will happen in 5 years, 10 years, or even 20 years from now. After all, the data created today, will likely still exist in the 2040s.


Cybercrime has been on the rise in recent years, with some experts predicting that it will soon overtake physical crime as the most common form of offence committed. There is also concern that government officials could use their access to sensitive data to commit crimes such as identity theft or blackmail.

To give you some idea of the seriousness of this problem, earlier this month, the Australian insurance company Medibank, was the victim of a major data theft by hackers demanding $10 million to recover this data. By refusing to pay the sum, they have lost access to all the information from almost 10 million customers, which is at risk of being used for malicious purposes. on the dark web.

As we have seen in previous cases where hackers demanded funds for data stolen, the effects were limited to the company that was targeted by these criminals. In most cases, companies paid their ransom to get their data back, which meant that they gave up some of their profits until they recovered from the attack.

In this case, Medibank has decided to fight back against these criminals by sticking to its available legal remedies. It is a brave decision, and I believe it will pay off in the long run.

Medibank has acted from a very courageous and ethical position, by refusing to succumb to the demands of a group of cybercriminals and refusing to pay the ransomware. As a consequence, (very) private customer data has now been leaked. If more organizations would take this position more often and from the beginning of this type of situation, we could prevent many more incidents in the medium and long term by contributing to the fight against this type of crime, simply because it becomes less lucrative for cybercriminals.

The impact on jobs

In the last years, there has been a lot of debate about how technology is changing our lives, but also about whether it is causing job losses. For example, Uber and Lyft have disrupted taxi companies, now replacing drivers with autonomous cars. But this is just one example; there are many more like this.

While it is true that automation has led to job losses in certain industries (i.e., manufacturing), other industries have seen an increase in recruitment due to automation allowing them to expand their operations or offer new products or services (i.e., banking). However, there is still concern that many jobs will eventually disappear due to automation, leading to greater levels of unemployment than ever before.

The question I want to ask is: what should we do about it? Should we try to stop the progress of technology, or should we embrace it?

The first thing we have to do is to improve our education system because if you do not have a good education system, then you will not be competitive in the future. We need to invest more in science and technology and ensure that young people get the skills needed for tomorrow's jobs.

We also need to invest more money into research and development because if you do not invest in research and development, then it becomes very difficult for companies to develop new products and new technologies.

And finally, we need to invest more financial resources into infrastructure because if you want to be competitive in the manufacturing or services industry, then you need good roads, airports, IT infrastructure etc., so there are many things that can be done in order to prepare ourselves for the future.

This is forcing us to rethink our lives and careers. What does it mean for the future when robots can do our jobs better than us? How will we earn money? What will our lives be like when everything from food to transportation is automated? How will we live our lives?

We need to start thinking about how we can prepare for this new world of work before it changes everything we know about employment and what it means to be human.

Importance of Longtermism in Digital Transformation for Organisations

Our way of thinking needs to evolve, and we need to consider the impact our actions have on future generations. We need to stop thinking about how much money we can make in the short-term, and start thinking about how we can invest in our communities and make them better places to live. We must be aware that what we do today will affect others tomorrow, so we should act responsibly at all times.

Longtermism can be applied by any organisation, no matter what industry it operates in or what products or services it provides. It is about a way of thinking which recognises that we are not isolated individuals but part of a complex social system and that we have a responsibility to consider the impact of our actions on others – especially those who will follow in our footsteps.

This way of thinking is important because it helps us put things into perspective: it makes us look beyond our own immediate needs and wants, and consider what's best for everyone - not just today, but tomorrow too.

Longtermism can also be applied to all kinds of things – from business decisions to personal choices – but it is particularly relevant when it comes back to technology: after all, technology is an enabler for many aspects of modern life (from healthcare to transport). And yet there are times when it seems like technology is getting ahead of us: where the pace of change is so rapid that it's difficult for anyone to keep up; where people do not know how their lives will change in 10 years' time, let alone 50 or 100 years!

So how do we get comfortable with longtermism? How do we learn to think about the future, to consider the long-term impact of our actions? How do we learn to think not just in terms of the next quarter or next year, but in decades and centuries?

The first step is to understand the importance of long-term thinking. We need to recognise that decisions that might seem rational today could have unintended consequences for future generations.

We also need to be aware of how our own biases can prevent us from taking a long-term view. We must challenge our assumptions and beliefs and recognise where they may limit our ability to think about the future.

For example, it is relatively easy for us to imagine what life would be like in 100 years' time, but it is very hard for us to imagine what life will be like when we are older than 100 years old. This cognitive bias means that we tend not to take into account long-term effects on future generations when making decisions today — even though those effects could be significant and irreversible.

It is evident that we are living in a world of short-termism. In the last decades, the focus on quarterly earnings has led to a culture of instant gratification, where companies seek to maximise profits and increase shareholder value by any means necessary.

The Problem with Shareholder Value Maximisation

This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it has been around for centuries under the guise of shareholder value maximisation (SVM). While SVM has been praised as an effective way to align managers’ and shareholders’ interests, it has also been criticised for its inability to account for non-financial interests such as long-term growth or social responsibility.

Many of the incentives we have in our society and organisations are flawed—short-term thinking is rewarded rather than the long view. Many shareholders care more about short-term increases in shareholder prices than they do about other issues like sustainability or future generations' welfare. While everyone applauded the move of Patagonia, very few (if any) organizations followed its example.

The financial system itself rewards short-termism through compensation schemes that emphasise payouts over performance over time – like bonus payments linked to annual (or even quarterly) profits – which encourages people to take risky decisions that may be beneficial immediately but detrimental over time. The result is a system that works against sustainability and long-term thinking and hurts everyone in the long run.

Shaping and Impacting our Future

We need to start thinking about the future as something that we can shape and impact, rather than something which is out of our control. It is not that I think that technology alone can solve all of our problems — but it can be a powerful tool for doing so if used correctly.

In addition, we need to recognise that some technologies have more impact than others. Some technologies are more likely to have a positive or negative effect on society at large, especially in the long term — such as automation and AI — whereas others will only affect small groups of people. For example, there’s no real reason why you would want your own personal drone delivery service unless you were extremely lazy (and even then, it might not make sense).

I believe it will take a fundamental shift in how we think about ourselves, our organisations and the world around us. We need to stop seeing ourselves as individual human beings who live for a few decades before dying and start seeing ourselves as part of something much greater — an organism that has been evolving for millennia. I try to practice this myself, which is why I started the Digital Futures Institute, to ensure a thriving digital future for businesses and society in the long run.

We need to stop thinking about our companies as a collection of individuals who work together for years before moving on, driven by shareholder value, and start thinking more like communities where people live, work and die altogether. We need to recognise that our actions have consequences not only for ourselves but also for future generations.

If this sounds like an impossible task, then it may be because you have not yet realised how far humanity has come since its early days as hunter-gatherers roaming the African continent. In fact, one could argue that we are now at a unique point in history where humanity has finally developed enough technology and knowledge to meet its needs indefinitely.

The digital sphere is critical as it provides access to information and services, gives voice to the voiceless, increases productivity in all sectors, and contributes to economic growth.

It’s important that we get this right so that everyone can benefit from it equally. This means ensuring that our way of thinking evolves in such a way that we consider the impact our actions and technologies have on future generations.

Longtermism Means Thinking Ahead And Addressing Potential Issues That May Arise

Longtermism is an approach to technology development that focuses on the long-term implications of our decisions. It recognises the importance of ensuring that the voices of the poorest and most vulnerable are heard at all levels in decision-making processes. This means that startups and scale-ups developing our digital future should consider the long-term implications of whatever (digital) technology they are developing. If need be, they should adjust their technology to ensure a positive impact on future generations.

Longtermism can help create an enabling environment for inclusive growth by addressing potential issues that may arise in the future, such as:

How can we ensure that these technologies benefit all?

This is a complex question, but one approach is to ensure that there are safeguards in place. This could involve ensuring that the data collected by these systems (and any other information held by governments) is not used for any purpose other than those specified in their original mandate (and, above all, is properly encrypted). Ideally, we move to a world where digital technologies enable self-sovereign identities and full control over our own data using Web 3.

The use of technology can also be inclusive if there are mechanisms in place to allow people to participate in decision-making, such as through user groups or community consultations. In addition, it is important that individuals have access to good quality training on how to use these technologies so they can fully benefit from them.

How can we ensure that these technologies do not undermine existing systems?

There are several ways this can be done:

We need to make sure that these technologies are developed in a way that is inclusive and transparent so that everyone has an opportunity to participate in the design process. This requires us to think about how we build capacity within communities so they can meaningfully participate in these innovations. The open-source movement is a great example of this approach. It also involves creating explainable AI, to avoid algorithms becoming black boxes that nobody understands a few years from now.

We need to include those who are most likely to be affected by these technologies from the beginning – whether it’s people living in poverty or people with disabilities, or future generations not even born yet – so their voices can inform decision-making processes about how these innovations should be developed and deployed.

We need more transparency around how (technology) companies collect data on their users and what they do with it. This will allow policymakers and civil society groups to hold companies accountable when they violate the privacy or other rights.

The most important thing we can do is to ensure that the voices of the poorest, most vulnerable, and future generations are heard at all levels of decision-making processes. We need to ensure that people who are not included in this conversation get a chance to participate and that those who are excluded from decision-making processes do not feel that their needs have been ignored.

How can we ensure that these technologies address global challenges?

There is no doubt that technology will have a major role to play in the future of development and poverty reduction. These technologies can help us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

For example, technology can help us to achieve Sustainable Development Goal #1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. If we look at the current situation, we can see that there are more than 700 million people living on less than $2 a day, according to data from the World Bank. Technology can help reduce this number by creating jobs, reducing costs, and making products available to everyone. Already, mobile phones are used in remote areas where there is not much infrastructure, and they also provide access to information which helps overcome illiteracy and save money on travel costs. Eradicating poverty costs only a fraction of the wealth of global billionaires, but it seems a hard goal to achieve.

The same thing can be done to achieve Goal #3: Good health and well-being for all at all ages. Technology is already being used in many ways to improve health outcomes worldwide, including diagnostics, telemedicine, e-health records, and vaccine storage management systems. Some technologies have also been developed specifically for humanitarian crises, such as portable ultrasound machines, which can be used for screening pregnant women for malnutrition or malaria during emergencies when there are no medical facilities available nearby.

Digital technology also creates an opportunity for future generations to have their say on key issues that affect their lives today, such as climate change or biodiversity loss. Transparent reporting about how decisions will impact these areas over time can help ensure that governments meet their commitments under international conventions like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Time is Now

This is the time to start thinking about our digital future. Although we have a lot of good examples of how to build a sustainable digital world, it's also clear that there is so much more work to be done. Let's make sure that in 20-30 years, our children and grandkids will be able to enjoy a thriving, healthy and open global web and metaverse.

We need you as an individual user and developer. We need your voice when it comes time for policymaking decisions on these issues, but most importantly—we need you today and tomorrow. We cannot wait until 2030 to see how things play out—there are too many risks involved with that kind of delay (e.g., climate change). So let’s start and incorporate a long-term approach into your business!

Final Thoughts

The concept of longtermism is particularly important for our species, which has a relatively short lifespan. Humans are extremely adaptable and resilient, but we are not immortal (yet, some would argue). We do not have thousands of years to wait around for the Earth to recover from climate change or nuclear war.

The key feature of longtermism is that it helps us think about time in an abstract way — which is necessary for planning ahead or imagining future scenarios. It also helps us identify and pursue long-term goals (like building a sustainable society) that might not pay off until after we die.

But longtermism is not just about thinking about the future. It also requires looking back at our past — something that many people today seem loath to do.

The digital world is changing, fast. We are facing new challenges on a scale not seen before. The internet is impacting almost every business - creating opportunity and causing turmoil. Some industries and markets are flourishing in ways we could not have imagined two decades ago. While some sectors are left behind by the rapid pace of change, traditional models are being disrupted and replaced by businesses that govern without a physical footprint.

The way we consume and implement new technologies is fundamentally changing. As modern consumers, we are becoming increasingly accustomed to accessing products and services on our terms – instantaneously rather than over time. O, and individuals must learn how to do both; leveraging the power of the digital revolution while maintaining a long-term approach so they can truly thrive in the future.

Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr Mark van Rijmenam is The Digital Speaker. He is a leading strategic futurist who thinks about how technology changes organisations, society and the metaverse. Dr Van Rijmenam is an international innovation keynote speaker, 5x author and entrepreneur. He is the founder of Datafloq and the author of the book on the metaverse: Step into the Metaverse: How the Immersive Internet Will Unlock a Trillion-Dollar Social Economy, detailing what the metaverse is and how organizations and consumers can benefit from the immersive internet. His latest book is Future Visions, which was written in five days in collaboration with AI. Recently, he founded the Futurwise Institute, which focuses on elevating the world’s digital awareness.