Rob chose to make his predictions based on three factors: the aging of populations, the emergence of the United States as a sole superpower with no near peer and the dynamics of economic globalization. "These forces are so powerful that we can see the way they will affect the paths of nations for a certain period of time," Rob says.
Rob offers his take on the future of the following global issues:
- The effects of the Iraq War: Rob says what he calls the failure of the current policy has damaged our country's popularity in most Muslim countries and Europe. However, the United States is too important to other countries to be cast aside, he says. "Europe and the Middle East need some power in the world that can step in when local problems threaten overall regional stability," Rob says. "The United States is the only country that can do that now."
- Global warming: When it comes to global warming, Rob says it's difficult to get people to agree to make a short-term sacrifice in order to avoid a larger long-term consequence. "What we're going to have to do is change our basic energy infrastructure," he says. "We're going to have to move away from coal-burning electricity—that's the single hardest task. The easiest thing is what we're already doing, which is moving to more energy-efficient and alternative fuel cars."
- United States' role in developing countries: Technology plays a big part in the United States' role in developing countries, Rob says. "The same kind of globalization of production that we saw in manufacturing, over the next 10 to15 years, we're going to see it in services," Rob says. "This means that our economy will be much more thoroughly integrated with the economies of China, India and Mexico."
- Employment: Americans need to recognize that the country has an idea-based economy. "Two-thirds of the value of U.S. corporations now comes from intangible assets, mainly ideas (patents, copyrights, training and organization)," Rob says. "To have a job, you have to be able to work effectively with the technologies that organize and manage ideas." In 10 years, Rob says all American jobs will require those skills.
- Healthcare: Rob says medical innovation is making the U.S. economy strong, but it's also driving up medical costs. The pharmaceutical industry is moving toward biologic-based drugs, which cost about 45 times more than the common small-molecule pills. Also, baby boomers are hitting an age when heart disease and cancer are highly concentrated. Rob says there is a need for best practices for cost controls in the healthcare industry.