Futures Salon: “STEEP predictions for 2021”

Our theme for the evening is “STEEP predictions for 2021.” 
Society, Technology, Economics, Environment/Energy(Geo), Politics

We start with casual conversation on the hopes that in the coming years we will be able to develop as a nation which more readily embraces kindness and reason. We expect that increased communication and collaboration in a global sense will improve the outcomes for STEEP in 2021.

Here are some of our predictions:


Influx of younger citizens in political involvement.

More similar to 2020 than a lot of people my realize. Similar trends.

A shift towards environmental conversations and sustainability in the day-to-day.

With social media and leadership changes, leadership really matters. Return of empathy and kindness. Leading by example.

Increasing tensions among religious communities due to political involvement.

It will get worse before it gets better. 2020 and COVID issues are not gone.

At the start of the pandemic, opioid usage was a forefront issue. This went down during early pandemic. Now it has exceeded where we are a year ago. This is getting very minimal coverage.


Utilization of population tracking and habits becoming a more daily part of our lives.

3D modeling of spaces and environments shifting our perspective of space and time to work virtually at a real-time interface that works globally.

New drugs and treatments with new pipelines for our accelerating our healthcare environment.

CRISPR gene editing technologies expanding in both usage and applied settings.

Rapid testing both for COVID and a future pandemic/disease becoming standard in airports or other events which could be done while waiting.

AI automation in visualization and robotics. A Starbucks without any human interaction. Robotics aiding healthcare worker shortage.

Integration of technology to the hospital interface. Tele-medicine as an excellent example. How we talk to a doctor, how we shop, how we ultimately adapt to those changing needs with emerging technologies.


An unexpected boom is possible, not the recession that may have even been “overdue”.

A boom in some areas, a loss in some sectors of the economy, such as service, to create economic conflict. Displaced individuals who are politically charged leading to further conflict.

Sharpening and division between the really high paying jobs and the more numerous low paying jobs which may be hurt further by automation.

While it remains to be seen, trends suggest lockdowns to suggest different strategies to be more or less effective. Automation showed that it will really play a huge role in supplies manufacturing and flattening the original curve.

Income inequality will not get better. Increasing transformation of how we view income, where lower income will not be able to improve their situation no matter the effort. This will be true especially as the rest of the world increases in case count.

A large arena of individuals of who are disadvantaged in the pandemic. Where service industries and entertainment will be deeply damaged unless we come up with solutions to support these sectors. This will be driven by the safety we feel.

Due to a lack of vaccination, we will not restore confidence in safety as we will not reach high enough herd immunity to prevent another bad season in 2021.

A strong case of the “socialist curious” among us. Perhaps a certain stabilization from the top is necessary here to push against these economic arena changes.


A lot more people will embrace nuclear. Now that we are in third and forth generation reactors, we will have new faith and interest in nuclear energy on both sides of the aisle.

Power and recharge-ability of batteries will greatly improve. This “game-changing” event will expand range and bring this to the long-distance market such as semis and heavy drivers.

A focus on carbon emissions will shift us towards nuclear, solar, and wind. A growing awareness among young people and corporations to address these issues (and even profit from it).

Private sector and industry are far ahead of the government at this point (e.g. Paris Accords). Industry are accelerating at alternative energy sources rapidly.

Environmental disasters will increase. More hurricanes and/or stronger ones. More wildfires. But also, the opening of arctic sea-lanes at the great advantage of Russia. Increase in arctic shipping.

Space and the ethics/environmental consequence of commercialized space travel will become a forefront conversation.

A return to discussions on nuclear weaponry.

A rise in electric vehicles. Markets and individuals addressing climate changes. Better planning of pandemics.


The new administration reaction to equity, equality, and we will see a rise in the voices of the ignored. Should get a more diverse group of voices that will be uplifted. 

Younger Gen-Exers and Millennials will take.

Expect another plot twist or two before the end of January.

There might be a reckoning on China.

Young people usually don’t get involved but made a difference in the election, but will they sustain that energy over the course of the year?

Will see a political realignment, might see a 3 party system emerge, the GOP may need to do some soul searching.

The poorly coordinated global response to the COVID-19 pandemic will lead in two directions:  some will see the need for concerted, cooperative global effort, while others will claim the poor response is proof that global responses are doomed to failure because individual nations cannot be trusted.  That is, political voices will continue to bifurcate over the issues with global import.

American dominance isn’t guaranteed anymore.

There may be a major attempt on the life of Biden or Harris.

One two punch of virus and climate change.

Trumpism isn’t going away.

Alot of the political dynamics are not new.

Electoral college reform.

These notes were written jointly by Matthew Dunn and Onyemobi Anyiwo.

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