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2050 – A Look at the Post-Digital Age

Connectivity, the principle of networks based on digital infrastructure, is one of the most influential trends of our time. It promotes social and economic change and marks a new chapter in the evolution of humanity. Digital communication technologies are fundamentally changing our lives and creating new behaviour patterns. This means that connectivity is not just a technological but a social and cultural process.


The Megatrend
of Connectivity

How digital networks and artificial intelligence will shape the society of tomorrow

Person sitting on a sofa in front of a globe with speech bubbles

The connective future will be defined by the alliance between humankind and machine, since humans and machines are more successful working as a team. In 2050, our everyday lives are shaped by the interaction of artificial and human intelligence. A profound cultural change has taken hold: Instead of a perfectionist culture that condems errors, a new flexibility is required of us, not only tolerating mistakes but welcoming them as a source of innovation. We will learn from and together with machines.

The Connective Network Economy

Business after the digital revolution

The megatrend of connectivity describes the dominant pattern of economic and social change in the 21st century. The connective economy differs from the economy of the 20th century, like electricity differs from mechanics.

Two leaves with and without veins

Complexity Needs Simplexity

Finding one’s way in the digital labyrinth

The increase in complexity due to various interconnected devices creates a growing need for interfaces that meet the principle of simplexity: Interfaces that ensure simple and intuitive access to complex technological applications – such as virtual assistants using natural language processing that work more intuitively than keyboard and mouse.

Two leaves with and without veins
Overturned bucket of paint with a smiley in the spilled paint

A New Culture of Innovation

Learning to fail with connective intelligence

In the age of connective intelligence, innovation must be thought of more holistically – economically, socially and individually. It is important to recognize that the digital transformation is not only about technological innovations but is driven by social resonance. Increased connectedness makes basic human needs such as trust and security even more critical for business models and the design of products and services. Innovations can neither be prescribed nor planned – but one thing is clear: they depend on creativity and collaboration.


The Connective Society
of 2050

Flying robot

Brave new world? On the interaction between humans and machine

What is technologically feasible will not necessarily prove to be useful. Technologies are always connected with cultural techniques and social values and entangled in social, political, and ethical frameworks. In the connective society of 2050 the digital and the analogue will merge into one another. Instead of being an end in itself, technology will respond to people's needs and encourage their participation. This new interaction between man and machine will shape our lives in 2050.

Robot with brain
Person with robot head and leg

A Dystopia — the Superhuman

Robot and person in a car with the sign Just Married

A Utopia — the Connective Human

Machine learning enables computers to recognize patterns and regularities in large amounts of data, optimise solutions to problems and thereby increase the efficiency of the entire economy.

Picture of Hans-Christian Boos Video player button

Pictogram video22 min 51 s

“The more diversity we feed the machine, the better its reactions to the unexpected will be. That means we need the input of everyone.”

Founder of arago & CTO at Wisekey

Pictogram video19 min 41 s

“We need to think of innovation as not in a vacuum – not innovation for innovation’s sake, but innovation in the service of a goal.”

Founder & CEO Merantix Labs
Digital Leader for Europe at World Economic Forum

Photo of Nicole Büttner Video player button

Pictogram video19 min 41 s

“We need to think of innovation as not in a vacuum – not innovation for innovation’s sake, but innovation in the service of a goal.”

Founder & CEO Merantix Labs
Digital Leader for Europe at World Economic Forum


Six Key Skills for 2050

These skills are essential in dealing with connective complexity and will shape the life of “Generation Connected” in 2050.

  • Number 1 Cyber humanism encompasses a multitude of complex skills in dealing with AI and sensitive data. Cognitive skills are just as important as motor, social and emotional skills.

  • Number 2 Knowledge navigationdescribes the ability to differentiate between different forms of knowledge and to relate them to one another. This “knowledge of knowledge” is essential for maintaining an overview in hyperconnected environments.

  • Number 3 Multi-logic brings together linear and non-linear thinking strategies. This merging of emotion, intuition, knowledge, and creativity helps in successfully navigating through digital information flows.

  • Number 4 Trust mediation is essentially the situational production of trust, focusing on empathy and resonance and without fear of contradictions and ambiguity. The goal is to find shared solutions using feedback loops.

  • Number 5 Pattern seismography consists primarily in a sense for the dynamics of communicative contexts. The merging of analogue and digital worlds plays a central role in understanding newly developing patterns.

  • Number 6 Cybern-ethics is a form of cybernetics that emphasizes ethical values and promotes an open, flexible culture. It is based on a holistic perspective on society and its systemic interconnections.



Political and social aspects of governance, communication and interaction of futures societies

How will technologies like artificial intelligence change society and individuals? Pessimists envision dystopian scenarios in which AI rules as a benevolent dictator. The struggle between liberal democracy and repressive authoritarianism will shape the 21st century in the sphere of technology as well. Authoritarian regimes turn into digital dictatorships and liberal political systems become digital democracies. The question is: will western societies continue to disintegrate into digital subcultures and filter bubbles or will they be able to transform themselves into inclusive, connective societies?

Robots on a crosswalk carrying things behind a person

The Connective Society of Europe – Five pillars for a sustainable future

Every society needs to decide what to entrust to machines and act accordingly. We still have a choice: We can develop systems with which states and corporations monitor citizens and consumers – or systems that hold governments and companies to account on behalf of citizens. A promising alternative to the global connective chaos of individual states and subcultures as well as digital surveillance capitalism is the design of a European connective society with five central pillars:

Photo of Prof. Dr. Katharina Hölzle

Icon podcast37 min 04 s

“Is our society prepared for connectivity? Do we have the resources to maintain our standard of living in 2050?”

Head of the Research Group IT-Entrepreneurship, Hasso Plattner Institute

Photo of Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger

Icon podcast35 min 14 s

“In 2050, blended forms of interaction will become normal. We will work in hybrid teams in the workplace.”

Managing Director of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI)

Photo of Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger

Connectivity 2050:

Five thesis for a connective society

  • Number 1The age of post-digitization begins. The foundations of the digital network society have been laid, the analogue and the digital are increasingly merging. The more reflectively we shape our journey into the new post-digital era, the more society will benefit from it in the future.

  • Number 2Organizations are nodes in the network. In the era of connectivity, organizations can no longer operate as autonomous units but only as part of various ecosystems. Increasing connectivity and maintaining interfaces and relationships is becoming increasingly important.

  • Number 3Connectivity is a question of culture, trust, participation, and security. The aim is a culture of innovation that allows change and rewards experimentation. A connective society offers extensive opportunities for inclusion and participation. Four factors are decisive: trust, participation, a strong culture of error, and comprehensive security (occupational, cyber, and future security).

  • Number 4The future belongs to the alliance between humans and machines. The relationship between humankind and technology will determine our future. The new technological possibilities and the integration of smooth interfaces enable optimal teamwork. The focus is always on people.

  • Number 5Connective intelligence creates new ecosystems Because of their connective intelligence, humans will continue to be superior to machines in the future. Human intelligence connects the social, economic, and political innovation capital of society into new holistic ecosystems of trust and agility.

Contributors to this issue were:

Team KALUZA + SCHMID Studio, Daniel Dettling, Benedict Holland, Bogdan Miftakhov, Christian Schuldt, Johannes Sudau, Kristin Wesemann, Janine Zimmermann