Why a think tank believes the world could end poverty by 2030

As you’ve probably inferred by now – given the current state of the world – forecasting future events is a rather challenging undertaking. But there are rare instances when some experts get it right. Take for example Silicon Valley entrepreneur Tony Seba, who a decade ago was among the few ones to predict that the costs of solar power would drop as significantly as they have over the last 10 years.

Seba and investor James Arbib, who runs a think tank called RethinkX, now say that similar encouraging trends could happen in other parts of the economy, transforming the cost of everyday life so significantly that it could pull people out of poverty.

As they write in their new report Rethinking Humanity, “Within 10 to 15 years, everyone on the planet could have access to the ‘American Dream’ for a few hundred dollars a month.”

The work builds on a 2017 report on transportation, which suggests that when self-driving cars are finally allowed to drive by themselves, ride-hailing will become so cheap that it no longer makes economic sense to own a car in the US. By 2030, families could save more than $5,000 a year by using on-demand electric robot-taxis rather than owning cars.

If individual car ownership dwindles, that can transform cities, especially those in the US that currently use vast swaths of land for parking. As parking is expected to become obsolete, cities could potentially make the choice to dedicate the space to housing, helping address one of the challenges of building affordably in expensive markets.

The report also predicts that the cost of energy will continue to fall. In many markets, renewable electricity is already cheaper than fossil fuels, but they say it will drop further, and the cost of battery storage will also steeply fall.

What’s more, the authors predict that with today’s fast-paced technological breakthroughs in the food and agriculture industry, the cost of producing our food will also dramatically fall.

The analysts predict that the costs of plant-based meat alternatives, like those of Impossible Foods, will fall from $100 a kilo in 2019 to around $10 in the next five years, and $2 a kilo in 2030. The cost of clean water will also shrink, as technology such as desalination drops in cost.

In total, the report says, it could be possible to provide someone’s basic needs – 1,000 miles of transportation, 2,000 kilowatt-hours of energy, complete nutrition, clean water, 500 square feet of living space per person, communications, and even continuing education – for less than $250 a month by the end of the decade.

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