Car companies begin to modify vehicles to better accommodate the increasing aging population
Ric Edelman: This is The Truth About Your Future, and I want to tell you about a short-term future: November 15. On November 15, world population hit 8 billion people: not November 14 and not November 16. On November 15th, we have our 8 billionth person on this planet. So says the United Nations, which also says by 2050 we're going to have 9.7 billion people in the world. Almost half of the increase in population, 43% of it, is going to come from five countries: The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Nigeria will be the fourth most populous nation in the world, almost as big as the United States. Europe, meanwhile, will have 40 million fewer people than it has today, either because more are going to be dying than are born or many are going to be emigrating out of Europe to other parts of the world. Probably a combination of the two. With the change in demographics, we're going to have a change in the world order because the more people you've got, the more productivity you'll create economically. And so we are going to discover that Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan are going to be growing in economic power in the world at the expense of Europe and other of today's leading nations.
Ric: Meanwhile, this increased growth in population also spells an increase in the number of people over the age of 65. Here in the United States, 45 million licensed drivers are 65 years of age or older. That's a 60% increase from the beginning of this century. Now, think about this: we know, at least we love to joke about the fact, that old drivers are bad drivers. Car companies are working to address all of this. Ford, for example, is building models to help people get in and out of the car. They have screens in the automobiles that will have larger buttons, fewer options, less confusion, more space between information, and larger video displays. General Motors is starting to use facial recognition to allow you to start the engine without actually having to do anything. Audi has an advanced lighting system to help older people see the road at night more clearly. In the future, cars are going to recognize early signs of dementia or heart attacks, and if they detect it, they will automatically pull the car off to the side of the road and stop safely. Toyota is working with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, building a car that will indeed guide itself over to the shoulder of the road if it detects that the driver is incapacitated. I'm not sure we're going to get the keys out of Grandma's hands, but at least the car she's driving will be safer for her and everyone around her.