The ‘Next America’

How do we govern in the age that will begin with the 2020 election?

Comments: 194

  1. I am going to predict that the current President is NOT going to be on the ballot for 2020. The pressure on him, his family and backers is going to be so immense by then, that there will not be a platform for him to sustain himself or the party. Having said that, the greatest shift I think WILL come about is the reversal (after decades upon decades) of privatization of absolutely everything. You had a clue in your column Mr. Friedman, with a lot of others things I tend to agree with. That is the idea of advanced education available for anyone, at any place and time (within reason) so that people will have access to any new technologies. The private sector is unwilling and unable to offer that. The government will. Furthermore, there will be a break of conglomerates and monopolies. The areas of health care will become under government control, as well as the military, education and even government itself. There is going to be MASSIVE Progressive shift that will enforce the laws (especially electoral) on the books, as well finally implementing a true Progressive tax system. (where if you make more, then you pay more upwards - not less) The demographics, changing attitudes and latest election results all point in that direction. Into the future, and not back to the past.

  2. @FunkyIrishman And we will put an end to the antiquated and biased Electoral College so our votes will actually count. Then we'll see where progressives actually are.

  3. @Seagazer101 I don't think republicans would hold office ever again, and would be nothing more than a minor regional party. - if that

  4. @FunkyIrishman I hope you are right about this. This shift needs to happen sooner than later, or we're in big trouble.

  5. I hope so, your column paints an optimistic picture, I just hope we can put down our surfaces long enough to take stock in the present and future and our place in it. So far we've been failing.

  6. “This has provoked calls for a return to the definition of monopoly in the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act, which emphasizes the need to ensure that the economic power of large companies does not result in the corruption of the political process.’’ OR the corruption of the judicial/legal system, or the corruption of individuals rights, or the corruption of international agreements or rights of nations to govern themselves. We can’t just catch up to where things have already gone wrong, we must also guard against where they are headed.

  7. One way to address the complexities of the Next America is to reconcile with the Previous America. 1. Have a "truth and reconciliation" process that enables the Native American, African-American, Latino, LGBTQ and women to speak truth to power and to have straight, white males listen and respond - without shamer, without guilt - with the truth of what they did. Too much of the Previous America was built on the blood, sweat and tears of slaves and oppressed peoples. This is not a matter of reparations, but speaking and listening to truth. 2. Recognizing Nixon's "War on Drugs" was an effort to disempower the African-American and progressive communities, reduce all non-violent offenses for drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

  8. I can’t see any connection to what this article is about.

  9. @Brad Any truth and reconciliation, which is a great and necessary idea, needs to include Asian Americans and the poor, such as Appalachian communities who have had the resources extracted from under their communities for years as well.

  10. The "Next America" (and the "Next World") will face a crisis of trust we're just beginning to understand. Yes, we'll have even faster download speeds, and social media platforms will continue to endanger the structures of democracy unless sensible regulation is instituted. But technology will soon offer "fake video" and "fake audio" that's impossible to distinguish from reality (at least by average people). There have been recent articles here and elsewhere about the latest developments in such technologies. We're nearly there now, and we've already seen the power of fake stories on Facebook and Twitter. If our climate continues to degrade, and people have no confidence in what they see or hear via the media they consume, conditions are perfect for even more extreme authoritarianism. None of the advancements or regulatory issues Mr. Friedman mentions will matter unless we have an environment that is sustainable, and some common understanding of shared facts, truth, and reality.

  11. It is scary to contemplate a panel interview in which candidate trump in 2020 is being asked to comment on what guru Friedman outlined as issues of great complexity and yet so consequential.Trump has no idea, unless climate change can be sopped by tariffs. But I think, Mr. Friedman, that it is not the future of the Next America at stake; it is the future of Planet Earth!

  12. Also, and perhaps most importantly: climate change.

  13. Double and triple that assessment

  14. I agree with most everything here. Except about Trump. Even the dumbest of his Collaborators are getting a clue that HE is toxic. Not only for our Country, but also to their Party. And most importantly, to their own “ Job “. And the dirty little secret about Politicians is that nearly all of them could never, ever, obtain and succeed at a commensurate level in the private sector. They’re too incompetent and self serving. And deep down, they know it. They’re terrified of not being re-elected. Trump will be Medically removed from office, within the next Year. Removed from the Oval Office, on a stretcher, restrained and heavily medicated. Count on it.

  15. @Phyliss Dalmatian I'd rather see him frog-marched out of the oval office in ankle cuffs.

  16. The first order of business must be for OUR Socially Conscious hired/elected leaders to undo the worst damage the democracy-destroying Robber Barons have done. Investigate The Con Don and his Robber Baron brethren with the end game of impeachment of all of them for treason. No hurry. We do not want Mike Pence in place of the current operative. Increase the size of OUR U.S. Supreme Court by as many justices as necessary to overcome the hard-right takeover and pack it with Socially Conscious, progressive Women and men to level the playing field. Then pass a law or hard rule that 60% or more of OUR U.S. Senators must approve all federal judge positions. That will stop the judicial system destruction of the past 40+ years. Increase the size of other federal judicial courts, with the same purpose, to compensate for the democracy-destroying judges being put in place by The Con Don as we speak. Break up BIG corporations - especially social media and other tech companies - seriously regulate them and tax them fully. SERIOUSLY regulate the financial industry and tax them at 99.9% to claw back all the wealth they have stolen from WE THE PEOPLE. Use the funds to preserve/restore/improve OUR Social Safety net. That will be a great start!

  17. @njglea Dream on. Vast numbers of citizens don't vote at all, and many who do are "low information" voters. 50 years ago, we truly were "the greatest country in the world." Sadly, most Americans assumed this would go on ad infinitum. It will take more than wishful thinking to turn the country around. At this point, I think we need a savior; and it won't be from the Republican party, of which I used to be a member.

  18. @njglea Your bold suggestions lead to overhaul the American democratic rule, free enterprise and law and follow the chart you outline to COMMUNISM of the worst kind. Some of your suggestions are: 1. Break up BIG corporations-especially social media.... 2. SERIOUSLY regulate the financial industry and tax them at 99.9% to claw back all the wealth they have stolen from WE THE PEOPLE. 3. compensate for the democracy-destroying judges being put in place... -You forgot some other "wise" suggestions your path leads to, such as: a. Increase the number of prisons. b. Set up public gallows to hang or torture into submission those dissenters who object to your ideas. c. Change the Constitution of the USA. d. Elect only leaders who advocate those changes. Those are somewhat harsh measures you advocate.

  19. You may be surprised to learn, as I was, that 2018 midterm voter turnout in Washington State was the highest it's been since th 1970s, bync. Gordon, it will take draconian measures to stop the International Mafia 0.01% Robber Baron/radical reliigon Good Old Boys' Cabal from starting WW3. Predatory capitalism - using inherited/stolen wealth - is a main component of the equation they are using to try to destroy the lives of average people around the world. WE THE PEOPLE are the only ones who can stop them and I will do everything in my power to help. WE simply cannot sit idly by while they play their destructive games. NOW is the time to make sure their plans do not come to fruition.

  20. "But in fact, in the Next America, argues McGowan, the right model will be “continuous lifelong learning’’ — because when the pace of change is accelerating, “the fastest-growing companies and most resilient workers will be those who learn faster than their competition.” That means that in addition to our traditional big safety nets — Social Security and Medicare — we will need new national trampolines." Almost 50% of americans recently elected an anti-science trog who has never read a book and openly disdains fact based knowledge as secondary to his "Gut": AND his VP is wedded to a world view which existed in 5,000 BC! There's gonna have to be a competence and science and humanistic based fumigation of monumental political proportions before we can even begin to talk sensibly about the absolutely imminent challenges and opportunities you outline. The window is closing rapidly.

  21. @dave Not even 60% of eligible voters voted in 2016 so not even close to 50% voted for this regime. But quite a few did.

  22. @dave: Americans suddenly embracing "competence and science and humanistic etc"?? Sure, some of us. But what about the 'masses,' dumbed down by and addicted to 24/7 right-wing radio and TV?? I think the window already closed on those folks. In fact, they gladly helped push it down and lock it (to extend the metaphor).

  23. The only way things get better in the Next America is for Citizens United to be overturned, political contributions severely limited, gerrymandering stopped, monopolies and too big to fail banks be broken up, government or military service comes with a lifetime ban on working as a lobbyist and we start treating the planet as if we care about the people that come after us. I have to disagree with Tom that new technologies will even scratch the surface of this mess, they will just get miss-used just as easily as a progressive agenda will get manipulated unless we systematically re-integrate ethics into all facets of our society. When all of the pigs previously mentioned begin to fly, we may have a shot.

  24. @Kevin Exactly right Kevin. Big money owns Washington. Former Senator Al Franken said Congress spends half its time going across the street to dial for dollars. I will add to that 'and they spend the other half listening to big money lobbyists plead their case while letting them stuff money into their pockets'. Corrupt money needs to be eliminated before our democracy can move forward. Until then our government will continue to work for the 1% as their plutocracy.

  25. @Rick You are both better articulating what I say when I listen to NPR or read the NYT: We are doomed. Not just the U.S. but the planet. I am very relieved I didn't have children. The planet is becoming a much more difficult place to live.

  26. @Rick @Rick For example: it costs about 1.5 cents to make a penny. Why do we still have the penny, or haven't made it from material costing less than a penny to make? Lobbyists from the copper and zinc industries. And I would not be the least surprised that many if not most of the copper and zinc people hate socialism. These people are parasites on us. America needs a thorough overhaul. A revolution. Viva Social Democracy.

  27. How ? Before readers comment I I recommend they read "The Next Society" Peter Drucker is the founder of Modern Management Theory ======== Peter Ferdinand Drucker was an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation. Wikipedia

  28. Lots of great ideas. None will be implemented unless we give equal voting access to everyone, and insure those votes are counted properly. It's taking our eyes off the ball of elections for decades that has left progressives way behind in gaining power. Paper ballots, mail-in elections, risk-limiting audits, in every jurisdiction. Then our leaders will begin to address what needs to be done.

  29. "So the Next America may very likely have to raise taxes or trim military spending, or Social Security or Medicare..." Why would anyone (other than a Republican) even consider adding the last two of these into the potential pies to cut, after trump robbed the entire 99% of us to give himself and buddies the gift of their lives this year? By all means, take it from the military, or take it back from the rich, where it never should have gone, but do not touch money we PAID IN OURSELVES for our own security in our old age! This is the rankest heresy. If anything, we must give everyone the gift of health care. It is obscene that this country does not care enough for its citizens to offer health care, let alone threaten to take it away from those who already paid for it while young so we would have it later.

  30. @Seagazer101 Although I agree completely with your main point, I want to point out one common fallacy. Social Security is a tax, not a savings plan. The money we pay into it goes to support the current retirees. When we start to collect it, we're being supported by the SS payments of current workers. Most of us, if we live long enough, receive a great deal more in benefits from SS and Medicare than we originally paid in.

  31. @MC You can call it a tax but in the end both employee and employer are contributing money to a retirement plan. That's all.

  32. @Seagazer101 Yes, and SS pays little enough to retirees. I have been bankrupted by illness during my late years, unable to work at all for five years, now only able to work part time, and I will have nothing for retirement except social security. I saved for my entire life, and it's all gone for illness and hospitalization and general survival; but some people never have enough to save. And yet, they will try to make that little bit even smaller.

  33. If the PRC has not eaten America's "Next Generation" for lunch, I'll be satisfied...

  34. It's as though we have forgotten our own history. We are in the 2018 version of the industrial revolution. "Buggy whips" are now obsolete, rich industrial tycoons, who are also founders and investors call the shots, they treat employees poorly, no regard for environmental issues. The system can't hold up under this, employees demand their rights, there are wars, there is a great depression, and dust bowl. People are out of work, banks have collapsed, and the government has to step in to help or a lot of people won't make it. We are in that era now, once again, different technology, pretty much the same mentalities. We can repeat the same cycle or we can vote for progressive thinkers who know what they are doing to make sure monopolies aren't formed, that employees have fair rights and our environment/banks are protected.

  35. I am wondering if Trump was elected at this time to show us how bad things could be if we don’t pull ourselves together and move forward in sanity. Complaining is one thing but doing something about it is what moves one forward. I met a man today who is moving to Canada. I have a friend who moved to Ecuador. People are quietly leaving this country.

  36. "So the Next America may very likely have to raise taxes or trim military spending, or Social Security or Medicare — just when all the baby boomers are retiring." Hey Tom. I know you're not reading the comments section but just in case you are: You may not need social security/medicare. But a lot of folks do. This theory sounds good at the upper west side cocktail parties, or their Beltway equivalent, but it won't fly in most neighborhoods. In terms of life-long retraining: All just groovy. Just one thing: try getting a well-paying job after 60 no matter how trained-up you are. Ask some of your former Times colleagues.

  37. @newshound Absolutely correct! I'm a 63 year old special educator (still working full-time) who has looked for a part-time job for the past year (to help pay off bills faster before "actual retirement"). I have applied to Kroger, Target, and Costco and all have responded with the line "We're sorry. You don't have the qualifications we are seeking at this time." I guess a Master's Degree puts you out of the running for grocery shopping (and taking them out to someone's car) and stocking shelves. Thought these places were crying for help? I guess not if you're 1) over 60 and 2) educated.

  38. @newshoundm Very well said.

  39. @newshound This is so true. My father-in-law got laid off from a high level corporate job at the age of 55. He was unemployed for almost a decade and probably sent out a thousand resumes during that time. No one wanted him. These days, he gets by doing tax returns, but he’s used up all of his savings. If it weren’t for social security and Medicare, he’d be living on the street. Is re-training really the best we can offer him?

  40. Thomas Friedman is once again channeling Herbert Spencer, the Social Darwinist with his "lifelong learning" trope. As evidenced by our vapid, round-the-clock entertainment culture, most humans are not built for this endeavor and what could be more coercive or dispiriting than to constantly retrain for jobs that you are guaranteed to find tedious, unpredictable and unrewarding? Even graduate school is pushing it for most people as far as secondary education and that is in a subject that actually interests them. Our corporate masters have placed rings thorough our noses and Tom cheers them on as they will never stop tugging until after we're dead. Its also implicit in his argument that the onus remains on the worker and any failure to thrive in his 5G dystopia is on them. Companies nowadays are loathe to invest in their workers, considering them disposables and expecting them to appear fully formed. When "futurists" like Friedman are asked about what the "jobs of tomorrow" will be, they immediately equivocate because they don't know more than anyone else. Yet, they are all too eager to have workers shoulder enormous debt on a gamble. How ironic that all this technology had always been predicted to finally free mankind from drudgery and has only succeeded into making him into what Frank Zappa termed "A loyal plastic robot for a world that doesn't care."

  41. @stan continople You're expected to arrive fully formed...when did companies stop training their employees?

  42. @stan continople And how does one "re-train" for jobs that don't exist anymore because of AI and automation?

  43. @stan continople: I've known a number of people who went back to school after 50 to "retrain" and for the most part, it does not work out for them. A lot of so-called "retraining" (ala Hillary) is just giving people low quality "certificates" to do lousy jobs like home health care -- paying about $9 an hour with no benefits. The idea is this will REPLACE a job as a coal miner or auto assembly worker, which paid $70,000 a year WITH a pension and health care! The jobs that are the "hottest" today -- computer coding, nursing, engineering -- require not merely "retraining" but skills, knowledge, aptitude. Everyone is not good at "book learning" or good at math or chemistry! Those jobs take special, unique skills. My best friend in college was the most brilliant person I've known, with straight As, perfect SAT scores and a National Merit Scholarship and graduated magna cum laude from a 2nd tier Ivy. But she majored in...English Lit. After a few years as a low paid editor, she decided to go back to college to learn computer programming, as a way to earn more money. AND SHE FLUNKED OUT. She couldn't learn it, it was just alien to her way of thinking. And this woman was in MENSA. NOT EVERYONE CAN BECOME A CODER OR A NURSE.

  44. Thank-you to the author of this summary. It is in short a potential he summarizes for the number one issue is how do we maintain our humanity without more serious conflicts. How do we find the time for considerations. First we need to look at economic disparity for otherwise there is not enough money for the majority. Second, we need to find a way to a foundation of morals since we no longer think religion is the answer. Third, there will be many, many not able to adapt, what do we do for them ? We will not be able to live in a world, for instance, with today some sixty-four million refugees and growing.

  45. Tom is correct - up to the border. But he talks as if America was the universe. It's not just the Facebooks and the Googles that will need to be regulated - it's the protected and regulated Chinese Internet giants and social media platforms that are starting to edge into our universe. And if Europe ever gets around to a single digital Europe and gets competitive - them too. Europe is already trying to regulate our giants, perhaps because they haven't grown their own. If we think of the Next America we will be ignoring the Next World.

  46. Walt Whitman knew of what he was singing about when he characterized us as a nation of upward, onward, outward. Trump is an aberration, a negation of the fundamental idea of progress. Yes, the future is cloudy and our current president has exposed our flaws. All that aside, resilience has been our unifying trait.

  47. The Next America is pretty much identical to the Old America we are already too familiar with: rich people can do practically anything they want, while the rest of us are struggling to survive. I wish Mr. Friedman would get over his obsession with the Next New Thing and see that in terms of American political economy, there is nothing new under the Sun.

  48. So here is what I am thinking... those of us who are familiar w Virilio’s WAR ( French thinker) And many wisps of ideas that fly by F A S TTTT will agree that things will move rapidly... but then u can’t ignore Mother Earth and other planets who are likely to spook us, not to mention more evil entities than the tame caravan that so badly wants to grasp ‘the American dream’. So hey, I wouldn’t name a year! The time maybe right round the corner:))

  49. So here is what I am thinking... those of us who are familiar w Virilio’s WAR ( French thinker) And many wisps of ideas that fly by F A S TTTT will agree that things will move rapidly... but then u can’t ignore Mother Earth and other planets who are likely to spook us, not to mention more evil entities than the tame caravan that so badly wants to grasp ‘the American dream’. So hey, I wouldn’t name a year! The time maybe right round the corner:)) and keep the faith.

  50. Tom, for all your forward-thinking futurism, you're out of step with the latest trends sweeping the world, and are stuck in the past. Globalism is not the future, it's the past. The future is nationalism. While you've been busy exploring the latest technology or gadgets, I took the time to see what people really think about modern world. You'd be surprised to know that they care deeply about seemingly old-fashioned concepts like nationhood, and blood and soil. These fundamental concepts haven't gone away. Denial of human nature -- or glossing over it with the words "The Next America" -- is counterproductive.

  51. "That is: How do we govern the “Next America’’?" When reading the above I paused and thought, simple, govern like President Obama did. Then all that arrives later in the column falls into place. Govern with compassion for all the citizens, have high moral standards, demonstrate a willingness to compromise, and most importantly, treat all who reside on American soil with dignity. That's the way we use to do it before the current President, so let's just return to our roots.

  52. "The Next America won’t wait." It will if Hillary runs again. She'll sink it for everyone with those three million votes burning a hole in her pocket. She and Bill are narcissists at the same level as Trump. They need to help from the sidelines now, not from the main stage. If she runs again, she will split the vote and, if nominated, she will lose again to Trump. Then we will put the pedal to the metal on our own little highway to you-know-where. Forget about all the optimistic technological improvements you discuss here. Forget about helping with climate change, or health care, or infrastructure, or education, or relations with our allies, or gender and income equality. After Trump wins again, it will be more of the same with racism and traumatizing immigrants to continue to play to workers who have been, and will continue to be, left behind. Will Mueller save us? He didn't before the midterms, and the Senate will bury his report. We constantly talk about Trump. But he's not the big story. He's old, and fake, news. It's all about Democrats regaining full control in 2020 *so they can actually implement progressive policies to get America back on track.* It's all about Hillary getting out of the way. It's all about her announcing, immediately, that she will not be running again. It's all about her coming to terms with not being the spoiler again. Absent that, the rest is all just talk. It won't matter; these ideas will all be stillborn. We will be lost.

  53. The fact that in this hotbed of innovation called the United States there are only two Internet carriers should tell us something about the state of antitrust enforcement.

  54. @WJL Coupled with doing away with net neutrality and it is the Glided Age 2.0 - The internet should be maintained just like the airwaves, with not any one company having a threshold over 25% or so. Just a thought ...

  55. @WJL, thank you! I am aghast at how few people are outraged by corporate welfare of ISPs. As I understand things, in many places the creation of municipal broadband has been *declared illegal.* I would love to know the reasoning behind this, but I'm guessing there is none, except greed.

  56. I don't view the technological changes that are outlined in this article as being net positive in any way. First, let's stop referring to any device or connection as a "smart device" or smart whatever. This is one of the biggest false labels pushed by the tech industry and the use of that term should be stopped immediately - the dangers of tech gone wrong as equally as dangerous as candy flavored cigarettes, if not worse. The second significant negative is implied via the following: "But in fact, in the Next America, argues McGowan, the right model will be “continuous lifelong learning’’ — because when the pace of change is accelerating, “the fastest-growing companies and most resilient workers will be those who learn faster than their competition.” If anyone actually believes that society will function normally and properly in a state of constant limbo, well good luck. People by their very nature crave stability and certainty for their future. Society will break down when everyone is told that they'll be irrelevant tomorrow if they don't learn some unknown skill set.. I am very concerned indeed.

  57. The need to learn continuously is the main thing this article got correct about the present: it has been this way for 20 years. Truly, it is this way not because of the rate of change in technology, though that has been great, but because or the rate of decline in our social stability, precipitated by the withdrawal of support in social structures and the lack of funding or foresight towards a new infrastructure to support our growing capabilities. My generation (Generation X) has had to scrape, scrabble, and scramble for every edge we could get to pull us along: if you did not have a continuous learning mindset, you were not able to hold on for even a few years, let alone decades. Now you tell us that this brings instability? Instability is it's mother. So how do we fix this? I propose that we follow Mr. Friedman's advice, start a conversation about this; bearing in mind that if we are not provided for as a society, society will be a mean place indeed and instability will continue to fester and plague us.

  58. In 2020 the right work model indeed may be “continuous lifelong learning’’ instead of using an education for 40 years ,or using it for 20 years and then retraining. But, the way things are going technologically, that 2020 right work model will only be a temporary stop on the way to the "most jobs will be performed without people" model. Now that will truly be revolutionary and require a fundamental re-thinking of how we are to live our lives.

  59. This article paints an optimistic picture of what we can and need to do with the coming of 5G technology and progress with much more breathtaking speed if we want to remain a viable nation. First, this will require reversing all that is going on today that is stopping the runaway train going in the wrong direction. Taking money out of politics, guaranteeing fair election, getting rid of gerrymandering, making voting easier, electing thoughtful, compassionate and intelligent leaders, providing opportunity for higher education for all, controlling the social media to be more responsible, making the rich to pay more taxes, national health care for all and a solid safety net for all which will not allow weakening social security and addressing climate change etc will have to be addressed simultaneously to meet the challenge. We truly have a tremendous job.

  60. @The Observer Aye, but Progressives (we) are up to the task.

  61. America will need to reverse the top-heavy tax breaks enacted under the current Administration at the same time as it rebalances its public resources more toward the nation's future then its past. That means investment in the young even if it means disinvestment in the aged. Since young people have no franchise and the recently young tend not to vote, such a policy recalibration will be a difficult hill to climb. As for the prospect that "microsensors in [my] shirt will gather intelligence and broadcast vital signs to [my] doctor," what can possibly go wrong with that? For my part, I'm hanging on to all the shirts I currently own. To the best of my knowledge, not one of them is equipped with microsensors.

  62. @John lebaron: " even if it means disinvestment in the aged." Why do you buy this dipolar nonsense? Why can we not do what we need to do and be a civil society? If you want to exclude civil society, be very careful, for the barbarians will come back to bite you.

  63. When the next Congress begins in 2019 to consider the available evidence to determine whether or not Donald Trump should be impeached, the most important issue may not be the dozens of instances of obstruction of justice nor the conspiracy to rig the 2016 presidential election nor the compromise of national security in return for freshly laundered and untaxable money from Russia. The most important issue pointing toward impeachment may be that Donald Trump – through his dishonesty, narcissism and ignorance – simply wastes too much of America’s time. In a fast-moving world culture where education and personal re-invention will be a lifelong activity for any American who wants to cope with new challenges and technology, as Thomas Friedman discusses, the distraction of Donald Trump cannot be allowed.

  64. It’s very simple to answer this. Follow and adhere to the Constitution. The US rose from dirt to the world’s wealthiest and most successful nation in just two centuries doing just that. Don’t like it? Amend it. This is a question that should not even be asked.

  65. "The Next America" is also the title of a 2014 book by Paul Taylor, a senior fellow from the Pew Research Center. Its analysis is similar to what Friedman notes, with perhaps a bit less emphasis on the technological gadgetry. I tend to be suspicious of sweeping predictions, but hope to around long enough to see what happens. Given the atavistic features of our current administration, one wonders what will prevail.

  66. Dear 'Next America'...While some people were planning the next new thing, the health of the planet was ignored for too long. We were short-sighted, arrogant, stupid and very greedy. So sorry for your loss. Best regards, the Present

  67. ??? Thanks to Google and its ilk, all of the world's more public knowledge – most every image and in every language – is a couple of clicks away... Have several paid – and several gratis – papers available instantly at my fingertips... If I want the truth on anything, I have my AI bot ingest HuffPost plus Breitbart – and divide by two... Can self-teach idiomatically correct foreign languages – or access mankind's greatest science and technology, and narrative and art... Amazon plunking down 25,000 good-paying jobs in Queens – and all folks can do is grouse about the impending cronut shortage... If you want to know who could lead us back onto a better path and brighter future, how about the former mayor of NYC – who, with his analytical team, set the stage for NYC’s resurgence... Best quote I’d seen recently regarding the promise and potential of AI was about Magnus Carlsen: “ champion Magnus Carlsen won't even play his computer...He uses it to train...But he won't play it, because he just loses all the time and there's nothing more depressing than losing without even being in the game... 40 years ago, Steve Jobs remarked: “…the computer is the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds... Was going to suggest an update – but some folks, as usual, way ahead of me...

  68. Unfortunately, 2018 America hasn't even mastered voting least in its neo-Confederate states where tyranny of the minority is having a Jim Crow Renaissance Revival. How can you expect meaningful government and smart regulation when the Robber Barons and their comprehensively corrupt political front men are rigging the vote like it's 1880 again ? The only ones leading America are coastal democracies and and America's businesses...our Electoral College Presidency is a Trump University mascot riding a horse backwards to cheering idiots and a sea of serfs sipping snake oil as the ruby red, religious Senate hands out Bibles and anoints corporate supremacists and voting rights nullifiers to its Robber Baron bench. America's radical right regressives need a swift 2020 kick in the political groin if this country is ever going to be able to put on its thinking cap and take its IQ out of its Fake News microwave oven that has turned its collective brains into White Wonder Bread soaked in acid rain. America's federal government needs to lead on education, renewable energy transitioning, science, infrastructure, healthcare, campaign corruption reform, taxation reform, voting rights and representative government. Instead, we have a giant overflowing Trump Toilet spilling effluent, criminality and cultured stupidity across the nation. The Republican Party requires a massive federal Superfund clean-up to remove its toxic chemicals from America. Then we can move forward.

  69. I’m from Caldwell. Love and agree with your reasoning

  70. @Socrates Is the flag factory on Bloomfield Ave. still there? Keep up the great work in the old 'hood.

  71. @Socrates thank you for this I'm laughing but it's just to keep from crying.

  72. “...the Next America...will be “continuous lifelong learning” But the future won’t necessarily belong to those who simply digest more information, but rather to those who develop a true appetite for discernment and quest for wisdom. And this can only occur if we have leaders and a populace intent upon the cultivation and dissemination of actual knowledge (formerly known before the pre-Trump era as “truths”).

  73. The elephant in the room of this article is that a political system incapable of overcoming Trump, or of squarely addressing the grievances he exploited to become president, does not stand a chance of grappling effectively with the coming technological and social challenges outlined here. Especially in the context of the further unmentioned herd of global inequality, global limits to material growth and global climate disruption. Ergo, to avert further decay and disaster, America urgently needs to reform and repair its broken political system, especially the worst part of it, the part strictly unmentioned in our Constitution, and which is now -more than ever before- a dead two-headed albatross upon the body politic: the decrepit and derelict two party duopoly. The Republican establishment cannot credibly deny its culpability in not stopping Trump, neither can Democratic establishment. For different yet reinforcing reasons (ingrained deceit and hypocrisy of the GOP, ingrained cowardice and phoniness of its faux opposition), both parties have become incurable scourges, and require drastic remaking and/or replacement. Two party insanity as usual has run its course, and has run the country aground. We need to heed the warnings of America's founders who rightly feared the corrupting and corroding effects of political parties. We need a return of high school civics, reform of campaign finance, balloting procedure and redistricting, and adoption of ranked choice voting.

  74. @Sage Although our Founding Fathers and their peers warned against political parties, they immediately formed them. Historians I've read deem them counterproductive and inevitable.

  75. If America wants to truly see a revolt trim Social Security. The wealthy have gotten most of what they have charged the political class to do. The rapacious producers of arms and weaponry have been bilking the public for years. The Pentagon has never truly addressed waste in their organization and the effectiveness of our military is in doubt. Have we ever won a war since WW II ? The tax cuts, marshaled through by Ryan and McConnell, have decimated any real chance of balancing a rigged system. Topping off Social Security contributions allows the wealthy to avoid paying their fair share, while we of the middle class are ever-increasingly burdened. Much of the social safety net has been destroyed and the regulatory agencies rendered toothless. While middle and working- class Americans mouth platitudes that "America is the greatest country" and thank American mercenaries "for their service" the wealthy are picking the carcass clean. Thomas Paine is watching from above and weeping.

  76. @MichaelWe now have extreme unfettered Capitalism likened to the times of trust buster Teddy Roosevelt. Unions have been tamed, and corporations have been allowed to no longer provide pensions, but instead provide 401k plans that, if lucky, will provide some percent of matching contributions. However, with the current low state of education, it will no doubt take years for the general population to learn to save and manage it properly.

  77. Mr. Friedman, I think you meant, raise taxes AND trim military spending, didn't you? Just kidding. No, seriously. You know better than any of us, drastic measures will become necessary and tolerable as long as fairly good government prevails. Otherwise, I see a second Civil War coming in one form or another

  78. Recent polling shows that 70% of business leaders state that the the pace of change is accelerating. So much so that the ability to adapt to that change or perish is becoming their primary emphasis, and their biggest worry is that their own workforce’s could be largely obsoleted within 10 years without massive retraining. Expect “knowledge base” to once agin as it was in the 1990s become the meme. Also, along with 5G, I expect VR, 3D printing and telecommunications to get a huge boost if not reinventions as a result of 5G.

  79. So nice to hear that 5G is coming, woo hoo. Now if only the power lines running outside of my house and down my street did not look as if it were installed in 1930, which surely it was. We all love to go on about hi-tech, self driving cars and other flashy, newfangled devices but the reality is we need new infrastructure. Crucial life supporting stuff like sewers, new gas and waterlines, drainage areas, refuse/dumps, oh and other little things like roads and highways. Infrastructure is not nearly as sexy as say rocketing to Mars or a new Tesla or I-Whatever but it is a necessary reality.

  80. @Tim Can you do this without raising taxes or increasing the size of government? I understand the GOP are looking for potential converts in NY.

  81. @Memphrie et Moi Higher taxes is coming, sooner rather than later. Windfall profit taxes on private equity warlords, merchant bankers and other disrepitable greedheads should follow. Time to put the Porsche Cayenne SUV up on blocks and dust off the Honda.

  82. @manta666 666 was once my mailbox number when I moved to a town that had a one year wait time for mailboxes but 666 was available. Nobody here in Quebec or at least 80% don't believe in God and the beast doesn't even occupy our nightmares. Anyhow I am sad to hear higher taxes are coming to a location near you. We have high taxes and a roaring economy and our government will only give a small part of their excess revenue to we seniors. What kind of government invests in a future when we seniors are not likely to see much of it? Can you believe they make us pay for parking when we visit the hospital. When my wife spent almost two weeks in hospital it cost me almost $50 for parking to visit. Good thing it didn't cost us for anything else.

  83. The U.S. has reached the point where the current constitution no longer protects ordinary people. There needs to be a constitutional convention to revise and reform what has become a dated game plan. I have no doubt that the U.S. will be left in the dust of world events if they don't move their laws and their thinking into the 21st Century. Unfortunately, I don't think this is possible.

  84. You maybe right. However, we certainly do not want the current Congress to be responsible for revising any part of the Constitution .

  85. @Boba Fett, Revising the constitution will be virtually impossible because it requires the following: The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures.

  86. If the Don is your 2020 choice You have spoken aloud with your voice, Turned your back on Science In utter defiance Of Trump, empty barrel of noise. You’d like to be pre-Civil War? That’s what the Don is good for In the stove just put coal CO2 takes its toll Deny each gasp or what’s Hades for?

  87. @Larry Eisenberg... in utter compliance Of Trump

  88. On balance, you sound scared. So am I. Just as people are having increasing difficulty in keeping up with technology that directly affects them, so the creators of such technology are losing track of themselves and the things they produce. Hardly a day goes by that I don't encounter a clash between a program that was written for one purpose and a directly conflicting program written elsewhere for another purpose. Software is piled into our systems - iPhone and PCs alike - in a frantic effort to keep up with itself, and as often as not, one "fix" creates another problem. Hackers are the true terrorists of the near future. They don't always just steal or vandalize for the fun of it. They alter critical programs that threaten our increasingly fragile cybernetic infrastructure to the point that such tampering could bring down entire economies in the blink of an eye. I'm getting on in years, and while I'm not sanguine about facing the Grim Reaper, a part of me is glad to be checking out before this electronic house of cards collapses around humanity's ears. I've lived though the very best of times, in the very best of societies. Good night, and good luck.

  89. Our Lobbyocracy can't even fix healthcare. I'm not holding my breath that it can tackle the big challenges like climate change. The Next America may be a very sad place if we don't get money out of politics, get rid of the Electoral College, etc.

  90. I agree with most of Tom Friedman's observations about "The Next America," and the powerful role of technology as the conduit for these anticipated changes. In parallel with these dynamics, there needs to be a transition toward a more supportive and people focused government at all levels that enables our citizens to capitalize on the attendant benefits as described in his column. The American people should prosper from 2020 onward, not just the major corporations, the special interest groups and high ranking government officials. Let the majority of our people be an integral part of this progress as we move away from enhancing the lives of the top 1-2% of our society. If the suggested changes are to become our new reality, then let's authentically start by addressing the needs of the American people hand in glove as these changes evolve. With "The Next America" on the horizon with all its promise, kickoff the process to deliver to the American people and give them not only what they need, but what they truly deserve.

  91. I know you're in love with "lifelong learning" but the people who struggle to get through high school and who can't fathom another day in a classroom are not going to cease to exist just because there is no place for them in your brave, new, educated, world. Maybe in the next 50-100 years, universal college will be the standard but until then, regular people doing regular jobs need to earn living wages. Feudalism does not need to return because you don't think these people are any better than serfs. Not everybody is going to become a nurse, coder or carpenter.

  92. Tom, You set high expectations for a government in a country who’s political class can’t seem to walk and chew gum at the same time. (And 40% of us would be angry for the glee of it, if we walked and didn’t chew gum.)

  93. "In sum, the Next America requires addressing each of those issues, and many more — from climate change to zoning rules — and how they interact. So the next election must too. The craziness around Trump has delayed much of this discussion. But 2020 won’t let us do that again. The Next America won’t wait." Mr. Friedman, you may be right about Next America, but as for these being election issues, if Mr. Trump runs for re-election, and there is every chance that he will, I can guarantee you that none of this will be his elections issues. I can also guarantee you that if a candidate is foolish enough to bring these issues up, and that candidate would not be Mr. Trump, then they will lose. Mr. Trump reads the NYT; I gather that he hopes that all Democratic potential candidates take your advice. That would mean 4 more years.

  94. I have seen these predictions for 70 years The actual results never look like the predictions. The things you expect dont happen and the things you can't dream up do happen. The result looks nothing like the prediction. But there is a slight resemblance occasionally.

  95. I think you're totally right, Tom. These are the questions staring our country in the face right now whether we like it or not, see it or don't. The question is who will write the rules. Citizen leaders who fight for the common people of this country? Or corporations who have already tipped the scale and are reshaping every aspect of our lives? I desperately hope for the former. I think The Republic depends on it.

  96. Thank you! Millennials wholeheartedly appreciate posts like these.

  97. "We will need to make some level of postsecondary education free to every American who meets a minimum grade and attendance requirement, so that every adult and every high school graduate can earn an associate degree or technical certificate free of tuition at a community college at any time." And how do we expect this to go over with people that can't even see the need for this with health care. You might not be smart, but you will get sick and die, but even that certainty can't sway these people that apparently are happy to have their life's work hoovered up at its Twilight, if not sooner. We can do it but it's going to take a lot of reckoning from people that so far show they are incapable.

  98. The success of the '"Next America" rests solely on the "Next Republican Party". The one that emerges from it's present nihilistic state. If it remains the party of Trump, we may be looking at the "Last America".

  99. I do not understand why people insist on saddling a whole new reality with an obsolete economic system. We have machines that will do almost all needed production better than we can why are we looking at education to do what is completely unnecessary? It is time to look at a totally new paradigm that gives us purpose and meaning. The age of your work is your identity will soon be over and we will have a world where your identity is your work or we will all follow our lead lemmings over the cliff.

  100. The "New America" will also need to answer a critical question: How many of our citizens are truely committed to an inclusive democracy? How many are willing to compete in a changing world? FiveThirtyEight's analysis of polls tells us that after 2 years of unrelenting attacks on the foundations of democracy by a corrupt authoritarian President, Trump still commands about a 42% approval rating. Tens of millions of Americans support a President who attacks elections, law enforcement, a free press, and American citizens who dont look like him. Mr. Freidman talks of "lifelong learning". Yet after 2 years of Trump's lies (6000+ per fact checkers), attacks on science, attacks on "disagreeable" facts, absurd conspiracy theories, there are millions of Americans who believe what they are told despite what they can plainly see. "Elite" levels of knowledge are considered unAmerican and untrustworthy by far too many. The "New America" will not succeed with 40% of Americans of preferring know-nothing authoritarianism, lazy lies, and fearful disengagement over an active embrace of the challenges of a changing world. The "New America" just cannot afford our current level of ignorance and fear. Fiscal discipline, smart technology regulations and corporate oversight, and other mentioned policies may be necessary but are hardly sufficient to fix what is broken in this country.

  101. @LT How much will "lifelong learning" help those holding the 47% of American jobs McKinsey says will be permanently wiped out by tech by 2050? We obviously need a radical re-thinking of our political economy, or we'll sink together as tech turns America into a permanent Depression by wiping out so many jobs so fast that there's such a fall in aggregate demand that there's no way to get us out of Depression for good.

  102. @LT Isn't "lifelong learning" just code for, "You and your children will have to pay through the nose to get an education, and once you finish all the required courses for your major, you'll only get to learn mindlessly dull things like subnetting because you'll have to spend the rest of your life paying off your student loans. And then when you're done doing this the first time, lather, rinse, repeat until the robots come for your job." Meanwhile, the elites are the only ones who can go to good schools or afford to become airline pilots, scientists, artists, actors, or anything else that's fun and exciting. I guess their new slogan is, let them eat Cisco.

  103. Friedman is so wrong it makes you laugh and then makes you cry. If this is the centrist elite’s understanding of our problems, it is no wonder we have Trumpism. 5G means faster cell networks; it will change nothing. Secondly the idea that the answer to technological change is lifelong learning is laughable. Humans can’t and don’t want to pursue several careers in a lifetime. The promise to reeducate workers in the 90s was a cruel promise that never materialized. It’s funny that you never see the people who advocate such nonsense do it. Man’s relationship to work is changing. Globalization has made the rich fabulously richer and left America’s blue-collar workers without decent jobs and her white collars worker with no job security and no benefits in a gig economy that only advantages employers. AI and robotics will do this to the rest of the world. Out of touch pols who tell workers that all they need is lifelong learning will be looking for gigs along with everyone else. Capitalism is burning fossil fuels that will destroy the environment and they are creating systems that will eliminate the need for workers. Boy, those pesky contradictions just keep coming. Can consumer capitalism survive without workers? Who will consume? The solution is guaranteed healthcare, housing and income. The solution is communism, something humans have proven to be incapable of, they are just too selfish. Unfortunately, we won’t survive the end of work unless work becomes voluntary.

  104. Great piece. But I disagree that humans have proven incapable of communism. Most of human history has been spent in very small groups that could be described as communistic in the sense of perennially sharing the means of subsistence. Private property in our sense of the term probably didn't exist until the Neolithic Revolution, possibly not until the appearance of the first civilizations. As Marx said, it's the existence of surplus value that creates the possibility of exploitation.

  105. Dude, you're talking about which decorator to hire when the foundations of the building are cracking. We've handed supreme executive power to an ignorant and unprincipled opportunist who's been legislatively and morally backed by a repressive minority party that seeks permanent dominance. Supreme judicial power is in the hands of movement conservatives. A once fairly objective and much smaller media has become a monster with a million mouths; only a tiny, financially ailing fragment continues the objective tradition. These are the cornerstones of government and the political process. With them in such doubtful shape, do you really believe our people and our institutions can take on the kind of hypertechnical regulation you (correctly) say will be needed? Our legislators can't even agree to keep the government solvent. I don't see that happening until the underlying issue of Two Americas comes to some kind of resolution. There has to be an understanding across the political spectrum about sharing power. I don't see that happening. Trump is a feature of the system we have now, not a bug.

  106. Thanks for including this bit of wisdom from the 1890 Sherman Act : its definition of Monopoly “emphasizes the need to ensure that the economic power of large companies does not result in the corruption of the political process.’’ Bravo! This is the quintessential bottom line. Defining Americans and creating policy only for “Consumers” has steered America very off course. This New America course correction journey is long, uphill and daunting.

  107. "As AT&T notes in one of its 5G ads, 'Think of this as the next frontier in untethering, giving you the ability to take the ultrafast experience you have in your home or business with you virtually anywhere.'’’ Just because people think and say these things doesn't mean they happen. Remember 20 years ago when the wide availability of cell phones and pcs was going to make tele-commuting possible. This was supposed to be the death knell for most large cities. Now the NY Times prints opeds that argue that the movement of people to large cities is almost irreversible. Mr. Friedman, you like every human being including this commenter, think you understand the world much better than you do. Don't take predictions of the future, especially of the social 'sciences' too seriously. Look at some of the predictions made 50 years ago when men first landed on the moon about future space travel. Virtually none of them have come true.

  108. @James Ricciardi Right. Every column printed in the NYT or any other newspaper or online magazine or book should have a big warning right at the start: "The author is just one more imperfect human being who is doing the best he/she can. This is worth a read, but don't blindly believe everything in it."

  109. @Gordon Wiggerhaus This is worth a read, but don't blindly believe everything in it." I thought that was a given.

  110. This article is wrong. The “Next America’’ will be - China.

  111. @Fourteen Yeah, I'm beginning to think that. And it implies nothing more than a comfortable 1984. Or Fahrenheit 451. Eh!

  112. Tom...thought I'd inquire about a couple of things. First, what has more and more speed gotten us? Well, certainly that's more consumption and addiction to the screen for sure, so how's that going to help the environment if all development requires some form of resource extraction? Or will we just consume the screen images and not consume material things? Second, the rule of thumb for the information-age is 'if you're not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold.' Surrendering our privacy for a little convenience all feeds AI, and most quantitative jobs: accounting, banking, brokerages etc. should start feeling the axe by 2020, with a total clear-out by 2025. Why do you think, when enforcement of the Sherman Anti-trust laws is NOWHERE to be found, the monopolists and information gurus are grabbing their money now? 5G, 6G...9G, 10G, and we're all logged-into, and have become, the images and algorithms no human government can control. Monopoly regulation? Politicians don't bite the hand that feeds them! And the warming seas, forest fires, weakening jet-stream, and hurricanes continue apace outside the edges of our screens until the flood waters are at our ankles. As the Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon once said: "What information consumes is rather obvious. It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention." Deploy military spending towards climate-change mitigation, and stop 'feeding the beast.'

  113. Friedman makes a coherent case for rational leadership on 2020's biggest social issues. Given what we've experienced since 2000, I see no reason to believe that rational thinking will guide any of the important decisions.

  114. We need a plan. We have no plan. China has a plan (OBOR). How do we expect to compete with no plan -- just wing it? Seriously, we need a plan.

  115. @Tom Pollan --No, over 70 years ago Hayek argued that planning is futile; it overestimates our knowledge, which is a fraction of what is needed. Plans fail consistently. In a technologically dynamic era, that is even more true. Who in government knows where 5G might lead? A: nobody.

  116. planning even though they are most often off the mark, is better than not planning at all.

  117. @daveW -- Yes, we do need a plan. Not a detailed blueprint type of plan; rather, a strategic plan that identifies where we want to go and by when. America's citizens will dictate how we get there....but "there" needs to be defined in a more detail than say, MAGA. And while Hayek is worth remembering and re-reading often, I don't think relying blindly on spontaneous order is a prudent idea.

  118. As tough as it is for us, human beings, to adapt to what used to take a generation to learn and adapt to, now that we have a revolutionary technological prowess exponentially faster, we may get lost in it's labyrinth more often than not, to our loss. We shall be governed by A.I., robots, and an Internet so full of information and disinformation, that to sort things out may become impossible; hence, the paradox that, the more information, the less knowledge and even less understanding shall become the rule. Still, as we become more credulous and prejudicial, we may become easy target of charlatans and demagogues 'a la Trump' that will control us emotionally; and all they will need is find a black hole of discontent or disenfranchisement and claim they are the only individuals,with unique credentials to get us out of our predicament. As you said,continuing education and training shall be as routine as 'apple pie'. And 2020 is upon us, menacing if we consider that, among us, there are unscrupulous, malevolent minds, intent in benefiting personally no matter how Machaivellian...and how awful for justice and societal peace. It would be a 'brave new world' nearly impossible to adopt without falling into an unrelieved chronic stress, and it's nepharious consequences. If this becomes the Next America, you better watch out.

  119. Mr. Friedman leaves out the most pressing issue of the 2020 election: climactic change and its impact on the economy and society. No surprise as he has been a consistent cheerleader for the technocratic elites (including his buddies the Saudis) and the idiotic notion that silicon valley will solve all problems. Frankly I wish he would go back to whatever haven he has been retired to and figure out just where his thinking went off the rails. He is no longer relevant.

  120. Tomas Friedman summarizes several issues that US society must address better without delay; there are many more including transition to a carbon emissions neutral economy & upgrading other areas of environmental protection, the opioid & related substance abuse crises, completing the building of a viable universal medical care system, rebuilding basic public infrastructure, upgrading public education & making it more relevant to the future of students, etc. There is an overarching issue, however. Beginning to adequately address this wide array of urgent issues first requires serious reform within both major Parties at the Federal, State & Local Government levels. Simple opposition of one Party to all for which the other Party stands, warring factions within Parties, the dominance of big money & of obsession with media trends, & a willingness to gerrymander, suppress voters, pandering to the base & demonizing opponents, changing legislative voting rules & State Constitutions to negate the will of the public are in sum features that all too often dominate the political agenda in place of the creation within each Party of a consensus on coherent public policies to seriously address in an intelligent manner the many urgent issues the US faces at all governmental levels. The Public must demand now for the Parties to address this democratic deficit.

  121. I hear that testing for 5G is killing off birds by the hundreds: if that's true we might better wish to preserve wildlife than be able to download a movie in 6 seconds. Waiting 7 minutes for a movie to download is no big deal, right? Back in the old day, people actually spent time going to a movie theatre. What if our next wave of technology is more harmful than helpful. Is anyone really keeping tabs? Is anyone trying to regulate??

  122. @Jennifer Kilgore-Caradec I am rapidly becoming a Luddite. With this lightning speed development of technology and the short cuts it gives us, help us or kill us? In my view we need some low tech solutions, such as a sensible approach to slowing down population growth and public education about the necessity of walking rather than driving, living close to work, etc. to cut down on carbon emissions. Maybe the coming economic depression will be a good thing for humanity.

  123. Tom - This is no cheery column. I am sure you are right about some things, but not all -- I don't plan on wearing sensors on my blouse that transmit my vitals to the doctor. I also seem to have heard about the need for "life-long learning" a long time ago. You don't mention, however, one of the additional cheerless aspects of the future. AI and robots will do most of the work. So, in planning for the "next America," where's your plan for all of the unemployed who will have been replaced by their non-human overlords? Sigh...

  124. I think it is unlikely that we will exist in the form that this author thinks we will. The next economic downturn will last until the severe parts of global warming hit. There may be no recovery. It's not that this inequity hasn't existed in the past, but the tools of mass brainwash were never so strong. I don't think the people have the capability to select leaders who can do what is needed, because none of it fits into the fairy tale world that most people now inhabit. None of the technology that the author mentions are meaningful in solving any of our real problems. He makes the assumption that profit for wealthy people will be the key to success, which is hogwash. Get ready to watch the decline, the madness, and if cuts are made to social security and medicare, the revolution. A revolution which will lead exactly to what the 1% often claims they protect us from, chaos. On a positive note, it will be the closest thing to a fair and equitable system we will ever get.

  125. @Chris That’s a depressingly compelling dirge. I was going to say “convincing,” but I cling to hope.

  126. The way that wealth is gobbled up by a small percent is like a cancerous tumor that grows and undermines the system. Nothing is as important for a prosperous America as a more equitable distribution of profits through wages. The free market will not correct this. Basic standards in how industry pays workers has to come from government.

  127. This is the kind of blindness that produced Trump and will produce more. Life is real as the riots in Paris against a global warming carbon tax showed. Lower and middle income need to live their lives with an increase in government health, with higher wages, with a sharp curtailment of immigration and outsourcing that lower wages, with an end to 17 years of war. Trump produces so much hate among the rich NYT Times who would read Friedman's enjoyable fiction than face the hard decisions and restrictions on the stock market than hard choices would produce.

  128. @Jerry Hough "Lower and middle income need to live their lives with an increase in government health, with higher wages, with a sharp curtailment of immigration and outsourcing that lower wages." Um, none of those things will matter when we're hit with more coastal flooding, hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, famines, etc. The only "blindness" in play here is people who ignore the visible evidence of climate change.

  129. @Jerry Hough Right, it looks like Friedman is sure Trump will loose. And even if Trump wins, US will act rationally he assumes. But I cant see why.

  130. I have always admired Thomas Friedman for his astute observations, many of which come through in his vision for the Next America. The biggest threat facing the world, and yes the US as leader is Global Warming. In 2017 weather related disasters, fires hurricanes, floods cost ALL Americans $310 Billion - about the same amount as Trump’s tax cut cost the treasury and society. In 2018 - so far - the weather induced mega disasters have cost us over $110 Billion - so far. CO2 levels are now at 408 ppm and climbing as we burn more Carbon. Republicans passed clean air and water acts in the 1970’s - Now, the added health costs from continuing to poison our planet are estimated at $50 Billion a year, not counting lost productivity due to asthma, Hg and Pb poisoning. Simplistically, going back to a past where winning was everything means that we are abandoning the future hopes. A glimmer of hope - the non-partisan “Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act” HR7173 will be quickly passed - and the fees on burning carbon will be returned to every American household. The power to save the planet will be in every American’s hands!

  131. Forget politics and politicians. Avoid them at all costs and they are costly, to purchase that is. If America is going to survive in any real sense whatsoever, it will need to _mature_ and grow up and then come home to itself and then one another. Anything else is just more of what I have seen, witnessed and endured for my entire life. I want people to think about this before they go to sleep at night this evening as there is no America for us in the 99% anymore. So unless we alter the nuts and bolts of our society very quickly, we might as well just sell what left of it to China and Russia and be done with it. We already seem to be headed in that direction at near warp speed at present without _any_ national discussion. So go back to your TV dinners, reality TV programs, SUVs and vacuous intimate relationships in tract suburban housing.

  132. @Ephemerol : I LOVE IT when someone ( like ephemeral ) so perfectly distills a scenario. just like a great tom Stoppard would do. you described so well and accurately the state of the union - no president would / could ever do better. actually, they'd avoid your scenario like the plague because, after all, they're politicians and those, we're painfully reminded every single day starting with our " tweeter- in- chief" shaking his "shining object" ( google up terminology in psychology re. malignant narcissism), followed by Mich Mconell's wise deed of the day, etc, etc.

  133. The trends in tech aren't what really matter. The big question is whether we retool democratic institutions and values to fit this new era or whether we go the route of China, Russia and Hungary (among others) toward a more authoritarian model. There are disturbing signs that the Republican Party is increasingly comfortable with authoritarianism. In Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina, the response to election losses has been to strip power from newly-elected officials who are not Republicans. They are also comfortable taking steps that make voting more difficult for people who are not Republicans (or white). This is the real issue here and what tech does is make authoritarianism easier to implement. Look at China's "social credit" plan, which is straight out of a "Black Mirror" episode. It isn't hard to envision this here in the US, where going to the "right" church or belonging to the correct political party earns points and being of the "wrong" religion, race or party subtracts them. What we do know from 20+ years of living with tech is that the companies that produce it are pretty immoral. Growth and profit are their concern, not the welfare of the nation. The prospect that the "Next America" might be a dystopia isn't hard to envision.

  134. @Matt: not only is Matt perfectly correct in his arguments, he also exposes some of the weak / neglected points in tom friedman's article :1) correcting : ( ONCE AND FORALL !) gerrymandering, all forms of voting suppression anywhere , stealing elections in broad daylight ( a la Georgia), reversing what republicans have been doing shutting out newly victorious democrats from their won posts, ensuring Putin is not meddling yet again in our elections, etc, etc, etc. the list is very Long indeed. and it would be fitting to pay attention to a whole bunch of political / societal/ cultural distortions which were introduced by trump as " a matter of normal civic behavior" but are grossly unacceptable. unacceptable in fact, that a large swat of the " left" is willing and ready to rebel within the Democratic Party ( or as independents) to derail that " next america". tom freidman seems to ignore the reality of how business HAS NOT BEEN " business as usual" in the age of trump .those changes and many more will have to be implemented before we can move into that " next America" with the tech futuristic " progress".

  135. Friedman has devoted himself to preaching the gospel of novelties in our lifestyles consequent upon technology and capitalism as a twinned machine of innovation, improvement, "creative destruction". All we really need to do is, along with our governments and their more or less enlightened leaders, is to get with the program of technological advancement. It cannot fail to be the cure for all of society's ills. Is that really true (it is not a new idea), or is something being left out of this picture? Today's neoliberal capitalism does offer advantages for most of us in our rule of consumers. But what about the roles of worker and debtor? These are, by all accounts, less happy today. Inequality has grown, and the police state has brought new and improved forms of oppression. The wealthy are getting wealthier and expanding their power--that of a few hundred individuals, in fact--over the world. Authoritarian states have been empowered, not least in this country. Where, also, more of the non-rich live in squalor. Democracy, in any meaningful sense, is an idea whose time it has come to remember, as it is little more than that. Friedman preaches a funny utopianism that is not about social life directly, but about technology and its power to remake society. If there were a company selling the American dream as a kind of religion, in which all apparent social problems are really those of individual faith and will, I would nominate Friedman for its pulpit.

  136. For starters, we could stop being a wholly owned subsidiary of marketing. We don't need more spectacle, we need more common sense. Too much waste, too much looting, too much bullying. Meanwhile, the planet doesn't budge: it has the only seat at the table and it bats 1000. We'd better get real, or it will continue to ramp up its reminders that stewardship is better than dominion.

  137. Besides understanding the implications of technology, the requirements for life long education, the demographic change, and the implications on the social security system, the Next America needs to make meaningful progress on climate change. It won’t be enough to make cars and factories cleaner, our cows and wheat fields will have to become radically more efficient, too - not to say: Our eating habits will need to change dramatically to be able to feed 9.5 bn humans on planet earth. Valid candidates for the next presidential should have answers to all these pressing topics - from a national and, if required, on global level, too.

  138. Not a word about guaranteed income....guaranteed gainful employment... One of the key questions we have to ask ourselves is this: "What is the purpose, and what is the value, of a human being?" The asymptotic acceleration of knowledge (and with it, the separation between those capable of contributing, if not leading, innovation, and thriving in the new worlds that emerge) means an inevitable, multilayered stratification of our population. If we're concerned about the effects of under-employment, unemployment, and left-behind homelessness and incapacity now, we're REALLY going be faced with a searing problem of marginalized citizens as the blinding pace of change moves forward. We have no vision, and no policy, for population management: either our own or that of the planet. We have no vision, and no policy, for distribution of resources among citizens whose ability to contribute is wildly variant, and quite likely only modestly adjustable. And we have no vision, and no policy development, among our elected officials--who gain office on the basis of factors that have only a vestigial relationship to the gripping problems that technology will present. Universal education is one thing, and needs to be baked in very quickly. Other aspects of "what the future will bring" need to be envisioned quickly, too, and we need to develop the national will and ability to take them on and change the cultural anchors that are threatening to drag us not only down, but under.

  139. I think Professor Friedman neglects another possibility, one which might be called the Professor Lawrence Lessig possibility, that as formal democratic governance gets increasingly out of touch with technological options on all fronts, whether telecommunications, or biology, or energy, or means of political organization, or fund-raising, the formal governance and the format commons, as well as political parties, become vastly less relevant. Decisions are made in sectors and in rooms in which the elected representatives have no standing. Those who belong do. This excludes the majority of the public. The singular disconnect about Trump's America is that those counties and regions he and his ilk and his followers despise contribute vastly more of the U.S. GDP than those who do support him. If the U.S. were a corporation, voting in proportion to shares contributed to earnings over a year, Trump and company wouldn't stand a chance. This is the temptation for those who really earn to go elsewhere than the common system to resolve their problems. There are downsides to populist revolutions, too, especially in a world where wealth is created by knowledge and innovation, and the rest of the public simply uses it, does not understand it, yet wants it. Choices matter. And people can react to choices made.

  140. I fear the next America will be one that sings a new version of the neoconservative trickle-down tune of the GOP, akin to the lullaby against welfare, its recipients and the notion that we are not all given the same cards - in lieu a new song may pit the cost of the Red State welfare taker burden carried by the progressive Blue State providers. The divide is growing alongside the contentious politic, perhaps recognized somewhere within the conservative psyche is a fear of the democratic values that have allowed the status quo and the realization that Blue progress is its unravelling. Yes the future is here now and how it will be deployed tomorrow will exacerbate the divide between these two worlds. 5G is a perfect example of how technological progress will continue to illuminate the divide, show me where in Red States you can download that movie in 5 or 6 minutes versus 5 or 6 hours, then overlay the 5G deployment cost (about 5 times 3/4G) - Appalachia in the 22nd century? Maybe. I dare say Pompeo's allocution before European notables in Brussels, one seeking to dismantle the binders that ensure the well being of all, is a precursor of that trend.

  141. 2020 will once again see Blue Citadels versus Red America. The problem is their needs and aims are different. Red America has the population base to support their elders, the Blue Citadels need to rely on foreign migration. Red America supports military spending even if they're not keen on playing world policeman, whilst the Blue Citadels oppose military spending and like the idea of helping the UN play world policeman - not such a great alternative for any of America's allies, especially in the Pacific! The Blue Citadels seem to love ever higher taxes, despite the exacerbating rich-poor divide, whilst Red America hates taxation. Every other issue is the same. Red America doesn't think their environment has a problem, Blue America thinks Red Americans are destroying their environment and need to be stopped. Is compromise on any of these issues possible? Perhaps a few, but I fear very few. The two sides live in different regions with different cultures and with mutually exclusive goals.

  142. How do we govern in America with the challenges in America and worldwide in the 21st century, the what and how of leadership, political and economic structure and education? The biggest problem I see is current political and economic structure, the establishment, is justifiably seen as illegitimate by the citizenry for obvious reasons. In the modern age it appears education is dramatically played up, but the individual is being played down for collective thought and action, and education is to be spread as far and wide as possible, and the entirety of all this paradoxically is to leave individuals with job titles, whether of plumber or President, which do not appear particularly earned by the individual who holds the titles. After all, if so many people have advanced degrees in this and that, if so many are educated, why and how is it that this or that person should be President or hold this or that position, not to mention one of power, over other people who by current systems of evaluation appear equally capable? People in positions of power today risk being seen as fraudulent, imposters, and I have not even mentioned advantages today given to the merely wealthy or absurd attempts to elevate the merely underprivileged today. So what I suggest is that we need entirely new and profound and creative systems of testing human beings, especially for positions of power, which the public can respect or the legitimacy of power will continue to decline in face of changes in society.

  143. A central challenge for the U.S. and the rest of the world is "the future of work" and "jobs vs. income." About 2 years ago, I wrote the following reflection: "Consider the world in 2100, or 2115: Let's think ahead to a time when almost all of us living now will be gone, and our great and great-great grandchildren alive. If the demographers are right, world population may level off at around 10B or 11B. Technology no doubt will have continued to drive "productivity." World GDP growth will significantly outpace population growth, and productivity defined broadly as value of products/services divided by the number of people will also rapidly rise in real terms, discounting for inflation. The number of actual "workers" as we now define work (paying jobs) will also decline sharply. So, how will the value of the products/services get to the population, if not via wages (and/or "non-earned" dividend income for those holding stock shares, bonds, etc.)? Who knows how it will occur, but there will obviously emerge new forms of "social compact" (or social contract) policy that will reasonably and effectively distribute the income. "Redistribution" is a term that won't be used, replaced by new terms that explicitly recognize the realities of the new world economy. The future situation is easy to lay out. How we get from here to there, in fits and starts, hopefully no terrible wars thrown in, will be the history of the rest of the 21st century."

  144. @C.L.S. And climate change will be of no significance?

  145. Another thought, the next America will mean less meanial jobs and demand more education and more fluidity in educating the working class. Another article highlights how we either must learn to grow more food on less land or suffer enormous consequences of climate change. What’s the overall message connecting the two? Our planet no longer has the space nor the need for more people. Larger families who are unable to provide a high quality education for their children are dooming those children to an existance characterized by long term unemployment, homlessness, hunger and even incarceration. This conversation must be at the forefront of the next America.

  146. Perhaps an equally, if not more important, question than how do we govern the "Next America" should be how do we lead the "Next World" and it seems as if we've already begun to answer that question by electing our current president two years ago and already begun to relinquish that leadership position to those whose goals are world domination instead of world leadership. Regardless, the current and foreseeable state of our nation appears to be much more divided than united with no end in sight that will not require radical change. Are we ready to define that change as well as the compromises and sacrifices required to accept and accomplish it? Tough questions without easy answers.

  147. I want to respond to the words "or trim military spending." The Current America, let alone the Next, cannot afford our military. As we move from fighting terrorists and focus on more powerful adversaries, costs will skyrocket, so we must change our foreign policy. Russia's economy is a third of the EU's, so the Europeans alone can deal with Russian aggression in that part of the world. ASEAN, Australia, Japan, and Korea must take the lead in addressing China's aggressive expansion in Asia. And the United States cannot continue leading the policing efforts in Africa (e.g., confronting criminals like Joseph Kony). This is not to advocate isolationism; the point is that we simply cannot afford a foreign policy that requires military spending of $800B per year. (Note also that not all military spending is captured in the budget of the Department of Defense; e.g., about a third of the budget of the Department of Energy is for military purposes.) We must prioritize our national security goals realistically and support (not lead!) the efforts of our allies. In summary, our future national defense strategies cannot reflect business as usual. We simply cannot afford it.

  148. So far not a single potential Democratic presidential candidate has been willing to commit to even announcing that he/she is running for president. No one wants to be the front runner early on because, if history is any judge, front runners almost never get the nomination, Deval Patrick has already announced that he's not running for president. In addition it's also very difficult to defeat an incumbent president no matter how much he is despised. I personally predict a brokered Democratic convention because no one is going to have enough delegates to win the nomination outright. A bitterly divided Democratic party is not going to be able to agree on a compromise candidate to go head to head with Donald Trump. Has it occurred to anyone that Donald Trump may win a second term in 2020?

  149. @sharon5101 it may be difficult to beat an incumbent but not impossible, Ford, Carter, George H.W. Bush come to mind. If a president can lose because of “Read my lips, No new taxes.” Surely we can beat an incumbent with, no new lies.

  150. Mr. Friedman is ever astute and may well be correct, but . . . A future in which survival requires perpetual study of constantly changing technology? Yuk. Steve Jobs was quoted as saying that people don't know what they want, and have to be told what they want. He was wrong -- some of us do know what we want and what gives our lives meaning and value. Being tethered to machines and being made always to adjust to their needs certainly doesn't do it for me.

  151. The Next America will be ruled by the people. No federal taxes for anyone earning under a million dollars, cutting military by half, taxing corporations to fill the gap and allowing free education to reign. 5G will provide preventative acute health events via remote body monitoring, solar and other clean renewables will replace oil and gas and finally, our government will be ruled by a democratic party and a new Republican party without corrupt politicians ruling their senseless policies. And the world will become a better place for all; China, Middle East, Russia will follow suit. We are the people...

  152. Setting aside the "Golly! Gee whiz" tone of this article, it's striking in what it overlooks. The pace of climate change, and the growth of social and economic inequality over the past 50 years are unsustainable trends in the next 50 years ahead. Unless we find a way to contravene these trends, the "Next America" is likely to be a short-lived America, and 5G isn't going to solve either one of these problems.

  153. Tom Friedman doesn't talk about the dangers associated with the changes that the "Next America" would bring about. Already, the screen or digital addiction has increased the suicide rate among the younger school-going kids. The first lady is waging a war against on-line bullying. The opioid overdose-related deaths among the youth have surpassed other causes. A whole generation has been left behind just because it wouldn't "retrain" itself periodically. They would eventually fall back on gang activities, drug and gun dealings, human trafficking etc. South side Chicago must be an eye-opener. Joblessness, homelessness and crime are mostly found in the poor minority communities. They are mostly the victims of technology-driven changes or globalization. The dominance of Artificial Intelligence or robots over the masses will throw a large number of unemployed people on the street. The population size of the babies from educated, healthy and productive age groups would shrink because of the cost of raising a child. The lower child birth rate would necessitate immigration from outside. That will certainly create stress in the society. Technology was good until it was serving the people; in the "Next America," I'm afraid, it would enslave the mankind. That will benefit large companies and their political backers. And, that's not good.

  154. Automation will eliminate jobs for low-skilled workers including legal and illegal immigrants, as well as American citizens. What kind of jobs will be available to immigrants who are uneducated (the Central Americans at our border right now have a fourth grade education, on average), unskilled, non-English speaking and are seeking our government benefits at tax payer expense. 63 percent of illegal immigrant households receive some form of government assistance, more than 4 and a half million people. This is in addition to the 50 percent of legals who receive government assistance. Compared to 35 percent of native born Americans who receive govt assistance.

  155. We're back to an economy where people are disposable parts serving the giant "platforms" until the next generation of cheaper disposable parts takes their place. Maybe we should call the Next American, the Shirtwaist Triangle 2.0.

  156. 5G will be rolled out as a science project on all living organisms in its range. The FCC is controlled by telecom insiders via the revolving door between the government and our corporations. They don't care if the technology is disruptive and harmful to our biologies. 5G is 1/3 the strength of an X-Ray. We have a telephone pole about 30 feed away from our bedroom. Do you think we want a constant load beaming through our bodies - this strong - 24-7-365? Of course we don't. This is why 5G must be stopped. We have no clue what we are doing. None.

  157. “... trim military spending, or Social Security or Medicare...” or save 130 billion a year by stopping illegal immigration. Build the wall (cost effective considering the cost of illegal immigration), stop chain migration and the visa lottery. No amnesty.

  158. I stake my future - and the future of America and the world - on Donald Trump not running for office in 2020. Every day - today it's Flynn - we come closer to nailing the coffin shut on this (our) political, social, and economic abomination. One positive thing has resulted from this phenomenon, this sideshow, this retrograde nightmare: it has revealed how vulnerable America is to demagoguery, charlatanism, and bald-faced stupid lies that a third-grader could see through. But in many cases we don't. We embrace them and make them our clarion call: "Take America backwards to the future."

  159. Retraining every 20 years is so 1990s. More like retraining every 5-10 years at present.

  160. The next America will have to come to terms with itself and its relationship with the environment. How many more Panama Cities will the American people turn their backs on ignoring climate change. When will Americans realize AI doesn’t run on coal. America can’t survive party over country politicians. Did George H.W. Bush take the essence of America with him?

  161. If the future is already here, then welcome to Wisconsin. Just the latest version of what has been sown by McConnell, Ryan, Boehner and the rest who decided that Obama was not a legitimate President. Or even an American. Same movie; differenent location. I think we already know how the next age will be governed. This cat is out of the bag or horse has left the barn or train out of the station. And I would remind you that Trump's approval rating this week was 46 percent. Just think on that. 46 percent. 1 out of 2 for all practical purposes. This is who we are not what we risk becoming.

  162. So we will be capable of downloading the latest superhero movie in six or seven seconds to distract us from the heatwaves and drought cutting crop production across the Great Plains, requiring water rationing throughout the Southwest and West, and drowning many coastal areas with rising oceans and vicious hurricanes? Wow! Exciting!

  163. @kcbob I was thinking the same thing. Climate Change, if not addressed adequately and very soon, will crush all grand plans and rosy predictions.

  164. Dear Tom, Wonderful column. The Next America will also have evolve with the emergence of genetic engineering and its offshoot synthetic biology. The first babies to be born following embryonic gene engineering were announced in China. This technology will in short term be used to allow parents to have offspring without severe genetic diseases. Yeast and bacteria are already having their DNA altered to allow them to produce complex chemicals at low cost. This technology will disrupt many industries including the food supply where already synthetic hamburgers can replace their animal originals. Where is our administration on all of this? Digging coal.

  165. Those who are elected to positions of leadership alsmost always do what is expedient, won't upset the donors who fund their campaigns and secure their own futures. The actual needs of the country is last on the list and we have moved from a republic with democratic aspirations to a plutocracy where the very wealthy control the government. This plutocracy controls costs and ignores the values of what it is that is actually delivered. We have monetized every interaction. Life has become ala carte with fees being added for what was previously assumed to be essential features of that which was necessary. We spend more than any other country on healthcare and are 27th in life expectancy. We also rate only 17th for quality of life despite our perceived economic power. As Billy Joel noted, "is that all you get for your money?" Our country flees from this empty feeling by attending to the immediate and surface features. We have no memory with which to anchor ourselves. Our Reality TV president is a manifestation of this. No evident core values beyond increasing his fame and money and filled with inconsistencies and lies. He likes conflict because it increases his ratings. Predicting the future, even one that is two years away, is highly speculative as our times have become increasingly volatile and with the chaos that the current administration is sowing, it is like predicting the conditions following the passage of a tornado.

  166. I work for a technology company in the streaming video space. When we started, we provided a video player to address the fragmentation of devices, chipsets, Operating systems, DRM and streaming protocols. We could charge a decent amount of money for new features, updates, upgrades and support. Customers were satisfied about our taking care of many of their headaches. As Google and Apple entered the market beyond just providing the hardware and OS, this became more difficult as they gave away the same technology for "free". Not only did we have to innovate to stay a step ahead, but now we had to justify charging for our product. How do you compete against "free"? Well, as people discover, there is no such thing as "free". Apple and Google willingly gift technology so they can get subscriber data including usage habits. They do not care if they put other companies out of business. If the Service providers feel that trading the control of their technical platforms and subscriber data to Apple and Google for saving a bit of money by not paying companies like ours, then they cannot complain when Apple and Google take over their businesses as well.

  167. If everything is a revolution then nothing is. Exaggeration does not make a point, it distorts it. So I start my comments with bold statements to get attention. And any reader will likely say, "get off your soap box, and just say what you mean." Sure, we are going through changes. But so did our predecessors in the mid-19th century, the turn of the 20th-century, the era of WWI and WWII, the 1960s, the financial collapse of 2008. And many of these can (and have in some good books) be described as more significant than the changes we are now going through. Downloading a movie faster is nice -- not much more. Drones in the sky sounds like a dangerous and ugly thing -- not much more. Sure, some changes are more significant than these, but compared to what? The point Friedman makes that's worth making is that we need better government -- better laws, better politicians, a better president, more common sense, better citizens. We need better distribution of wealth and education. None of this is qualitatively different than previous periods in our history. That does not diminish the necessity for some key improvements. But it makes it more likely that it will be gradual (maybe a bit faster than before) and require a lot of work by all of us -- to learn, to be informed of current events, to raise our voices, to vote, and to hold the bad apples accountable. No pie in the sky big answer -- just some hard work evenly distributed to all of us.

  168. As we contemplate our new 5G/AI world, we might do well to ponder how many people we're going to need to run it, and how many people we're going to have on hand to feed, house, etc. Manufacturing, including management, will likely be 95+% automated. The same for transportation. Much of the required life-long education will probably take place on-line, with AI avatar teachers, so brick and mortar schools may also be a thing of the past. One can see where this is going. As human labor; physical and intellectual, becomes obsolete, when will humans become obsolete? And we get to the point that Friedman raises; who will own and benefit from the automated universe? If what we have today is any indication, 95% of the human race may well be unnecessary and unwanted. All of this pre-supposes we still have a liveable planet, so the entire discussion could well be moot.

  169. @Ralph Averill There are too many people on the planet. Climate change will ultimately cull the herd. Earth will go into re-boot. The change will be dramatic to say the least. "All of this pre-supposes we still have a liveable planet, so the entire discussion could well be moot."

  170. @Ralph Averill Our America still has anti-abortionists and anti-birth-controllers. Look at the future population estimates. Guess massive slaughter is in our future, like they did in Germany in the 1940's? Just get rid of all those people in one sweep. Or maybe Nuclear war is in our future to destroy so many of the non-relevant people that have no jobs due to AI We need solutions that ALL can firmly agree with, not pseudo-science and news. Will the future belong to the Koch Brothers and their ilk? or to US voters?

  171. The essential flaw in the argument made in this article is the assumption that life will flow from private companies, that work will be our base and our home and will include us all. Corporations don't care, and are gearing to a 2020 that considers all of us fungible, equal to a robot or worker from a country with anti-labor laws and very low standards of living. No, either we all make it, and have good lives in the new America, or it will be sunk, not from some iceberg, but from those of us in steerage who have learned enough to drill a hole in the bottom. I have absolutely no confidence in Wall Street to care for poor Americans, and I have absolutely no confidence in the elite power colleges like Stanford, Harvard, or Yale, to graduate leaders who can bring us forward. America was brought to this world in armed struggle, and if the problem isn't solved, it will go out the same way. Hugh

  172. @Hugh Massengill Amen. We need another aspiration besides wealth accumulation. We rate everyone on how much wealth they have accrued, not on their character or good deeds. We need heroes so badly we will settle for athletes and celebrities, and then we quantify them based on the size of their contracts. Our myths of rugged individualism and self determination have led us to a country of competitors not fellow citizens. As Pogo once said "We have met the enemy and them is us".

  173. @mike Hi Mike. He is us? Imagine being on a huge spaceship, cruising through space to a distant solar system. Maybe 50,000 people live on board the craft. Would they be capitalist, socialist, or... It would have to be contractual, that is, all adults are either in school or working, after bidding on a contract to work, and no one is left out. Like the military. You can only have homelessness in a culture that has deprived the poor and the powerless of unity and power. But I was raised on Star Trek, so that is pretty much all I know. Hugh

  174. @Hugh Massengill Me too

  175. As interesting as it may be to talk tech and its impact on the future Mr, Friedman ignores the elephant in the room, the cost of ever growing entitlements programs. The creation of the Welfare State in the US is starting to become a reality. We must heed the warning signs and address this backwoods slide. We need only look at the current yellow jacket protest in France to see our future should we continue down our current path. Socialist Democrats would have us believe that the Welfare State benefits all, yet their message is silent on the ultimate price tag. The Affordable Care Act is but a brief glimpse of how inept govt is in delivering a service and properly funding it. The future will unfold perhaps at a heightened pace but there will be spurts and stops along the way. Behemoth companies come and go, just ask GM, IBM, Kodak, etc.... their relevance fades over time. The entitlement programs we create now will however limit the progress of future generations, saddled with the cost of funding them. One need only look at the state of New Jersey, for a snap shot of the future cost of unchecked entitlements. New Jersey's inability to address their crumbling infrastructure and dysfunctional mass transit systems is due primarily to the cost of funding their generous civil service pensions. You cannot have it both ways. You either hold the line on the growth in entitlements now, or pay the price later. There is no middle ground.

  176. @George So the answer was a huge corporate tax cut?

  177. @George If the government cannot protect its citizens will capitalism step in? A dollar has no conscience and companies delivering shareholder value have no concern for their own employees let alone society in general. Jobs are after all a cost, and costs are to be limited or eliminated. It is a myth that everyone free to pursue their own ends results in everyone's ends being met. It really is like a game of Monopoly, someone ends up with all of the money. We either learn how to regulate capitalism or tax it to make up for its damage. Capitalism may well be the best method to deliver goods and services but it is based on greed and has to be regulated by societal norms and government regulations. "I've got mine, screw you" is no way to maintain a society.

  178. @Duke, lowest level of unemployed in 50 Years.

  179. Re Tennessee post-2dary education for all who qualify: NYC began it in the 19th century (see City University of New York in Wikipedia); and many European countries have been doing the same for ages. No different than farmers planting seeds for future harvest. With automation replacing lower skilled jobs (self-driving trucks, delivery drones, 3D printing, etc), the people replaced will need something to keep occupied besides streaming entertainment at 5G speeds.

  180. The first thing we need to do is get Senators that know how to use technology and believe in the good of technology. Most Senators don't even write their own emails. Second, we need legislators that believe in climate change and are willing to invest in solving the problems that come with climate change. Third, we need legislators that understand how to deal with a world where the US is not a single pole. We need to get over the silliness that the US is the greatest nation in the world and work with other nations with humility.

  181. "Since the 1980s, antitrust policy judged if a company was getting too big largely by one question: Was the loss of competition hurting consumers through higher prices or fewer services?" Not so...think of the airlines's consolidation which has been terrible for consumers.

  182. Healthy points for discussion by one of our great journalist observers. The education of our young people now and in the future calls for immediate action and from what I observe, our lawmaking institutions lack the will or perhaps the ability to do this. Our constitution, for all its magnificence, allows elections that thwart the will of the people and by delegating election districting to the states, has fueled destructive gerrymandering. Until these defects are removed (don't get your hopes up), a government headed by little Trumps will thrive and we will slide into more mediocrity.

  183. It is as if we hold a challenge coin in our hand representing the future. On one side, it is stamped "Utopia!"; on the other side, "Dystopia!". Which side we display is in our hands. To get closer to utopia, we will need to address the boatload of inequalities we have stockpiled in our country. Inevitably, this will mean taking from the powerful for the benefit of the powerless. And this act--taking the iron rice bowl of the plutocrats--will unleash increasing conflicts we are only now beginning to understand. Cries of "Build the Wall!" echo from many as a manifestation of a desire to stop what is viewed as a dilution of power and prestige even if it is not even distributed to the legions of those who scream to create a Fortress America. Commenters to this article include many who decry immigration as an existential threat. But without them, we would not have USB drives, ATMs, denim jeans, YouTube, Google, contraceptive pills and telephones among many other contributions we do not think about. Which side of our coin we shall see in 2020 and beyond will not depend on how high we push the top 1% of our country but how high we raise the other 99%. It will be in this crucible we smelt the Next America.

  184. @Douglas McNeill Most illegal immigrants don’t create “USB drives, denim jeans, YouTube...” 63 percent of illegal immigrants (22-28 million people according to a recent Yale/MIT study) receive some form of government assistance, more than 4 million people. 50 percent of legal immigrants receive government assistance. Illegal immigration and too much legal immigration is a threat to this country. Let’s take care of our own poor, homeless, vets, mentally ill, drug addicted first.

  185. Here, in no particular order, my take on the issue priority list: 1) Legislation, such as the new House Democrats are talking about, to vastly reduce the effect of big money in our political process. Public funding of elections. Corporate or company donations--out. A very low (three-figure) limit on private citizen donations. Re-establishment of the Fariness Doctrine, and actual legislation to counter the Citizens United decision. 2) Elimination of the income cap on Social Security taxation. All income should be subject to SS tax, not just that above $112.5K. And that includes unearned income. That'll get the system solvent pretty quickly. 3) Speaking of which, time to simplify and progressivize the tax system again. We may not have to go full Eisenhower, but incomes of seven figures and up should face steeply rising rates to above 50%. And this should apply to capital gains and huge inheritances, too. 4) A full public option for health care as a compromise towards single payer. Allow anyone to buy into Medicare, or even into the Federal Government's health plans. Bet over a decade a lot of people would to this and it would be the wedge that eventually splits health insurance from employment and allows entrepreneurial flowering. 5) Full Net Neutrality--and make big tech (like Facebook) subject to both antitrust and public utility law. Space here is limited; feel free to add. But this would be a good start. (Haven't even mentioned climate.)

  186. Thomas L. Friedman, We have at least two things in common. One of them is an opinion. However, mine is slightly different. It concerns the basis of 5G, but includes much of everything else in this economy. The reason for the chaos in this government is a much more simplistic, basic phenomenon: information - the vaporous kind, as in "the cloud" - has dollar value. In fact, information has had this value since before "the cloud" came along, starting with the development of high-tech. Back then we called it "data". Today's crop of politicians just don't get it. In fact, they wouldn't know it even if it was delivered via that other thing we have common.

  187. Or cutting the defense budget which is draining the treasury and is like good will in accounting: you don’t actually know how much it is worth.

  188. Fascinating article. We often overlook the impact of warp speed technological changes over the past few decades. These advances often have negative impacts, one of which is to divide the nation. The gap between the young and old seems greater than ever. The population is flocking to cities, where residents are vastly different (particularly when it comes to politics) from rural residents in the same state. A comparison of state educational levels, cultures and wealth highlights the disparity resulting in large part from the willingness and ability of residents to accept and create new technologies. There is a chasm between a West Virginia coal miner and a NY City tech employee (even if the same age). Trump, pretending to champion those at the bottom end of the tech world (I love the poorly educated) has used this chasm to seize the Presidency. I do not believe that the 2020 election will be of greater consequence than future elections. The technological (and resulting educational, cultural and political) divide will remain regardless of the outcome. Eventually, as Friedman notes, everyone will be required to engage in "continuous lifelong learning" and stubborn, backward looking citizens and states in which they live will have to change.

  189. I don't think so. This is a good analysis from inside the box. It assumes the future will be like the past but maybe faster. Tech was a great revolution but this whole piece discusses how it will further commoditize and commodities don't lead the economy. We never had a corn or soy bean age. There was a steel age but steel is now a commodity and it was replaced by tech. So the big question is what replaces tech, not how does tech evolve to regain its high position. The answer is sustainability. Alternative, renewable energy to replace dwindling petroleum reserves and to save us from coal. It also means water grids to replenish aquifers and ensure we can still make food. And it means something to replace most, but not all, of jet travel in an age of $20/gallon jet fuel. We're not going after any of that very hard right now and without it the Next America will speak Mandarin.

  190. The Next America will be the world's second largest economy, as China comes to dominate manufacturing, trade and some technological fields. Meanwhile, America will owe a lot of money to China, and will be hurting in other ways because we Trumped things up. China oppresses minorities, religions and individual freedom. Let's hope the high-tech gadgets Mr. Friedman is predicting don't also curb freedom in the U.S.

  191. Wish us luck Mr. Friedman. We should be looking toward the future but 40% of the population believes in talking serpents, segregation, and bringing back coal. Not too optimistic at this point.

  192. @In the north woods I think/hope part of that 40% will see thru the "smoke and mirrors." Given the mid term results, we've made a step in the right direction. However, we've got a hell of lot of work ahead of us... plain and simple, it's make or break time!

  193. "But it will require all kinds of new regulations to govern applications from self-driving cars to drone delivery systems to robots that will work as security guards and home health aides." You will never get those regulations if you re-elect Donald Trump, or some other "conservative" to be defined. As for the mid-career "Trampoline," well that sounds good on paper, but how do you erase ageism when you can't do the same for sexism, racism, and anti-semitism? The next America, thank God, will come to be for the next generations who are light years away from the thinking of the old guard, and baby boomers. The young, for the most part believe in strong gun control, strong environmental regulations, and greater recognition to keep government out of one's bedroom. As a boomer myself, I have great hope that younger folks will have more heart than what we're living through now. (Of course, that makes me think of Zuckerberg and Sandberg, and I wince. The next America will be a reckoning on whether there's finally consensus to protect and safeguard the rights of all Americans, not just those who believe certain things.