The world's future is essentially created by massive waves future trends that interact in a "4 STEP" long-wave cycle of human development. "4 STEP" is my acronym for the Social, Technological, Economic, and Political process of change, as follows:

STEP 1 — Social Motivation

The first step in the cycle of development is initiated by future trends which are driven by human forces. As we progress upward through the human hierarchy of needs and satisfy our evolving aspirations, we generate new ideas to sustain our progress. To further satisfy our changing needs, we apply these ideas to technological innovations. As the information wave spreads across the world, ideas and innovations travel like lightning, changing needs and aspirations worldwide, and tuning humanity to the same wavelength on an increasing array of global issues such as environmental protection.

STEP 2 — Technological Innovation

Human innovation therefore spurs research and development (R&D) to push back the frontiers of scientific knowledge and spawn still more future trends in the form of new generations of technology. The more efficient and productive the new technologies, the greater the economic and social benefits for us to enjoy. We can increase our economic wellbeing and clean up our environment. The greatest technological change in world history is the Internet Revolution, or what I call the Webolution.

STEP 3 — Economic Modernization

The third step, therefore, is the effective management of technological innovation to restructure and modernize the economy, and the most effective use of its resources — including its natural environment — to orchestrate the production of worldwide economic wealth on a long-term sustainable basis. The Webolution is creating high levels of innovation and productivity gains, which lead to real increases in wealth. At the same time, huge labor pools in China and India are allowing goods to be made at much lower cost than before, to the benefit of Western consumers while creating income-earning jobs in developing economies.

STEP 4 — Political Reformation

Finally, to ensure that people benefit from all this technological innovation and economic modernization, the entire development process must be elevated to a higher level of human aspiration. Therefore, political processes and government systems are inevitably reformed — preferably by consensus, but by social upheaval and revolution if necessary. Global agreements to collaborate on free trade and environmental protection are solid examples of what can be achieved. But the political systems also must be subjected to ongoing democratic reforms, otherwise corrupt regimes and despots will garner all the gains into their own pockets.

In summary, then, the cycle of development proceeds through the 4-STEP framework, but the political system usually is the last to change. Very often, changes in societal practice precede changes in laws and regulations, which often are resistant to change due to bureaucracy and entrenched power bases. But eventually the future trends overwhelm the political resistance to change, which either reform itself or it gets removed by the people.

Author's Bio: 

Frank Feather is a renowned global business futurist, whose website may be found at . Mr. Feather is the Future-Trends Official Guide for

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