clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Double Up Studio for Vox

Filed under:

The world to come

Earth’s population passed 8 billion this month — now what? Plus: the rise of an anti-vaccine America, the looming dangers of superintelligent AI, the shifting landscape of higher ed, and more.

This month, the 8 billionth human was born. But that number can elide a sobering fact: Population trends in many parts of the world have been dipping, even as growth is still robust in much of the Global South. It’s a phenomenon that will, as much as any other trend, shape the future.

That future is the loose theme of this edition of The Highlight, created by the Future Perfect team at Vox. Future Perfect is the section of Vox that looks at stories that are sadly neglected but truly important. Whether that’s surfacing the innovations reshaping society, calling attention to policies that are quietly monumental, or interrogating ideas that could reshape moral and ethical norms, Future Perfect is a guide to the future that will be — and could be.

That approach is what animates this edition of The Highlight. We hope you enjoy it.

Bryan Walsh (Editor, Future Perfect) & Elbert Ventura (Editorial Director, Vox)

Violeta Encarnacion for Vox

Are 8 billion people too many — or too few?

Welcome to the population paradox of the 21st century.

By Bryan Walsh

Violeta Encarnacion for Vox

The incredible shrinking future of college

The population of college-age Americans is about to crash. It will change higher education forever.

By Kevin Carey

Jasu Hu for Vox

Will America continue to turn away from vaccines?

Covid-19 vaccines helped stem the pandemic, but public skepticism about them could doom future vaccines.

By Yasmin Tayag

A realistic portrait illustration shows Robert Greenstein, an older white man with short gray hair and mustache, taking off a pair of black-framed glasses to look at the viewer. Behind him is a stylized depiction of clouds and wind in orange and white. The suit he wears is made up of many hands reaching upward, in shades of blue. Violeta Encarnacion for Vox

The unradical revolution of Robert Greenstein

Robert Greenstein isn’t a household name. But his four-decade career pushing Washington to stitch the safety net has changed the lives of millions of Americans.

By Dylan Matthews

Jasu Hu for Vox

AI experts are increasingly afraid of what they’re creating

AI gets smarter, more capable, and more world-transforming every day. Here’s why that might not be a good thing.

By Kelsey Piper

Violeta Encarnacion for Vox

Poor countries are developing a new paradigm of mental health care. America is taking note.

This is what the future of mental health could look like.

By Sigal Samuel

Editors: Bryan Walsh, Elbert Ventura
Copy editors: Kim Eggleston, Elizabeth Crane, Caitlin PenzeyMoog, Tanya Pai
Art direction: Dion Lee
Audience: Gabriela Fernandez, Shira Tarlo, Agnes Mazur, Mary Perkins
Production/project editors: Susannah Locke, Nathan Hall


The terrible paradox of air pollution and climate change

Even Better

Take the visitor’s approach to exploring your own city


Inside the very strange, very expensive race to “de-age”

View all stories in The Highlight

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.