The silence in the skies is a prompt to break with the past and imagine the world anew. A silence to ferret through unmapped paths, dead ends, abandoned alleys, and blind spots. Routes that offer an array of probable outcomes, all of which have possible likelihoods and varying impacts. It is a silence that allows multinationals to innovate in emerging markets and then allow the innovations to flow uphill into the Superstar ecosystem. Digital transformation is like reverse engineering in some ways. Both processes require companies or the civil service to overcome institutionalized or bureaucratic thinking, discarding waning organizational structures, and to build agile talent-thick sprint teams that revamp product development, workflow processes and reorient the sales force or service platforms/commissions with fresh brand propositions and identities.

Next generations have already started Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). The DAO is a Metaverse organization that provides fractional ownership of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Essentially, a small group of digital natives coalesces to form a chat group. Having shared values, the partners may decide to pull capital together using an Ethereum wallet for an investor-directed venture capital fund. Partners oversee the purchase of the NFT and Unicly protocol smart contracts control the vault where the NFTs are added. DAOs are trusted environments of persons who do not know each other and who live anywhere in the world. They have shared aspirations and are represented by a consensual protocol encoded on a Blockchain.

They are not influenced by a central government nor any bureaucracy or hierarchical hurdles. This has led to Decentralized Finance (DeFi) that eliminates third parties using smart contracts that house the rules of the organization and its storage. The funding of DAOs uses crowdfunding that issues tokens. While the governance of traditional companies relies on boards of overseers and executives, DAOs are transparent and flat and are used for investment, charity, angel finance, and buying NFTs, all without intermediaries. A partner can become the co-owner of an Artist’s work using cryptocurrency on a DAO. In May 2021, Jenny DAO acquired its first NFT, an original track by Steve Aoki and DJ 3LAU.

The use of NFTs is burgeoning. Brands are combining physical and digital. Digital goods, digital fashion, and NFTs have reached Selfridges on Oxford Street. Blouses, dresses, shoes, and fashion accoutrements are not made with threads, plastics and textiles, but with pixels and programs. None of it is tangible. Instead, aficionados “wear” digital fashion through augmented reality and digitally altered photos. Fred Segal in West Hollywood, curated an in-store installation highlighting an NFT gallery, virtual goods, and a streaming studio. The installation allows in-store merchandise to be purchased with cryptocurrency via in-store QR codes. Balmain and Dogpound released NFTs that offer VIP bonuses together with physical sneakers. More complex NFT projects provide VIP plusses and access to physical corresponding regalia. Adidas’ “Into the Metaverse NFTs” give access to specific shoes, and extras to owners.

Arundhati Roy, (2020), in describing the pandemic as a gateway acknowledges that, “We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us.” Alternatively, she says, “we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world.” The transition to a digitalized economy opens opportunities for justice as equity.  While the flow of capital in the analogue economy pursues solely profit without purpose, the coronavirus seeks only proliferation and has reversed the direction of the flow of capital. On March 18th, 2020, Francesca Melandri, in a missive titled, “from your future, with love” reminded her fellow Europeans that the yacht in which they will set sail “to defeat the epidemic will not look the same to everyone nor is it actually the same for everyone: (and) it never was.”

Pandemics compel humans to use their actual minds to create their possible worlds. And so, we are making the VR version of the internet alongside space-faring powers that are expanding both geopolitical and commercial influence in outer space. But back on earth, barriers to international mobility, divergence in development trajectories loosely coupled to vaccination progress, cross-border cyberattacks and misinformation, migration and refugees, tariff barriers and unfinished learning are eroding social cohesion and veiling the visibility of the climate disorder.

Digital inequality and exclusion are top short-term risks. By 2050, the segment of the global population aged 65 and older will rise to nearly sixteen per cent doubling that of children under 5. This never happened before. Developing economies may become old before they become rich, according to Toshiko Kaneda of the Population Reference Bureau (PRB). To increase equity, modernize public service delivery, and style policymaking as “open”, bureaucracies are now using Citizen-Centred Design Policy Labs. The approach is agile and iterative. The process begins with a “Lab Light” workshop that unmasks the policy challenge. Policy sprints and “Open Idea Days” convene squads of ethnographers, data scientists, and subject specialists to generate fresh perspectives and co-design promising solutions. These labs are a rich mixture of design thinkers and avant-gardists willing to tackle intractable, systemic policy problems to yield transformative solutions using speculative design techniques.