Economics of Ability

From the everyday to the futuristic, our abilities as humans (and machines) evolve throughout our lifetimes. We are part of a vast, influential range of abilities, both cognitive and physical, that are constantly in flux and influencing one another. This spectrum of ability is a constant reverberating tide that affects everyone, and moves culture.

There are cultural forces radiating across the spectrum of ability in a number of mega trends we follow here at sparks & honey, such as unapologetic, frictionless and AI ethics. These trends are evident in our relationships with one another and with technology, in fashion and design, our workplaces, and in the streets we walk, run or drive through. In this report, we examine the pervading tide of culture through the lens of ability, affecting all of us.

We’re looking toward a future–evident already in our lives today–where ability can be enhanced, morphed, designed and modular. For some, this will increasingly be a necessity, and for others, a luxury. For some time, we’ve been enhancing our abilities: with pacemakers, tech tattoos for diabetics that measures glucose levels, or bionic limbs.

As we infuse our lives with technology and look to robots for companionship, entertainment and assistance, ability becomes a question of human and civil rights. And maybe even, robot rights.

What does tomorrow look like – for all of us?

85 pp.


For this report, sparks & honey conducted primary research and interviewed experts in the field of ability, including thought leaders from our Influencer Advisory Board (IAB). We surveyed 1,009 people in the US, aged 18 to 65, to engage their perceptions on evolving technologies. Leveraging social listening, patent analysis, and our proprietary Cultural Intelligence system, we combed through thousands of signals to build a vision of the future cultural landscape of ability.

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