The future has arrived, and we are living it. If, like me, you grew up watching the Back to the Future trilogy, then last year we were supposed to see hoverboards and flying cars. Although these have not quite materialised (yet), we have achieved many other technological advances that we could not even have imagined just 20 years ago.
We now live in unprecedented times where the pace of evolution is no longer linear but exponential. In the 20th century alone, the population of the world grew from 1.65 billion to six billion people. Today, 15 years into the 21st century, we number more than seven billion.
The environment around us, be it built, natural or social, has also transformed tremendously as urbanisation envelops the world. Throughout most of human history, people lived a rural lifestyle, dependent on agriculture and hunting for survival. In 1800, only three per cent of the world lived in urban areas. A hundred years later, it was about 14%, with only 12 cities having more than a million inhabitants. By 1950, that figure doubled. Today, for the first time in history, slightly more than half – 54% of the world to be exact – live in urban areas.
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