When it comes to considering the economy of the future, it should be encouraging that none other than the Government of Canada not only recognizes that we’re in an era of fast and substantial change, but also that Canadians must be adaptable and resourceful to succeed in this digital age.

According to Positioning Canada to Lead: An Inclusive Innovation Agenda, the federal government says, among other things, that it is important to focus on making the most of current as well as emerging digital technologies. It adds that innovations in cloud computing, quantum computing, digital manufacturing, and driverless vehicles stand to dramatically alter the business environment and reshape how Canadians live their lives and ply their trades.

What follows is a closer look at four trends that could help to shape Canada’s economy of the future.

Driverless cars

During yesteryear, the idea of self-driving vehicles sounded like it came right off of the pages of a sci-fi novel — a far-fetched one, at that. But times have changed, and so, too, have opinions about self-driving vehicles. In fact, they’re being touted in some circles as the way of the future.

Benefits? They could make accidents largely a thing of the past and even help increase productivity in the workforce since workers won’t spend a lot of time idling in traffic.

Multiple internets

Jesse Hirsh, a futurist and digital strategist, says in a recent report that the economy of the future could include multiple Internets. He explains that we’re now seeing the emergence of numerous Internets compared to a singular, interrelated Internet. Google and Facebook, he says, are busy creating networks of their own.

“Where today we have platforms, tomorrow we will have entire networks, within which people will connect, socialize, and engage in commerce,” says Hirsh.

Digitally networked economy

In The Next Economy: Transformation and Resilience in Times of Rapid Change, Policy Horizons Canada points to the emergence of the digitally networked economy. The report says that collaborative technologies such as peer-to-peer sharing and social media networks are offering people new opportunities to access, sell, produce, work, and trade.

That said, the report adds that accessibility will be the elephant in the room as far as the extent to which the networked global economy can develop and evolve. The report notes that the last technologies wave brought us things like computers and broadband, which helped to create the framework for the World Wide Web and social media.

The next technologies wave, which will help to shape the economy of the future, will include artificial intelligence, data analytics, sensors, and robotics.

Science and technologies

Policy Horizons also predicts that science and technologies stand to undergo rapid changes in the economy of the future. In fact, it notes the following: “Accelerating scientific discoveries and new technologies are creating major shifts in our economic landscape, producing new risks and opportunities for the economy, the environment and society. Advances in big data, smart products, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, robotics, medical technologies, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and innovation systems are altering existing economic systems and business models.”

It only stands to reason, therefore, that science and technologies will play a role in shaping the future economy.

In this digital age where changes can — and often do — come quickly, Canadians need to be ready to adapt. Part of the process of getting ready is knowing what may be waiting in the wings since the economy of the future will have an impact for the better, or for the worse, on Canadians.

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