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.
Welcome to the population paradox of the 21st century.
By Bryan Walsh
The population of college-age Americans is about to crash. It will change higher education forever.
By Kevin Carey
Covid-19 vaccines helped stem the pandemic, but public skepticism about them could doom future vaccines.
By Yasmin Tayag
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
AI gets smarter, more capable, and more world-transforming every day. Here’s why that might not be a good thing.
By Kelsey Piper
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