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Vassiliki Petrou, the London-based marketing director of trends & innovation for the P&G Beauty and Grooming division of Procter & Gamble Co., opened the daylong WWD Beauty Forum with a pulsating presentation outlining socio-cultural trends that could influence the beauty industry during the next three to five years. She began by articulating an underlying observation: “We are reshaping what it means to be a human being.”

This story first appeared in the May 20, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Around this issue swirls a number of Asian-inspired movements and countermovements, driven by developments such as “a blending of the physical and digital worlds, the development of science which is shaping what we call the transformation of humanity, the fact that there is a diffusion driven by a huge demographic trend — we are going to call that ‘it’s a small world.’ ” The last factor involves the redistribution of wealth and redefining status, Petrou said.

She predicted that the importance of information technology will explode by a factor of one billion in the next 25 years and quoted a futurologist as saying that by 2045, “artificial intelligence will not just emulate human intelligence, but definitely is going to surpass it.”

One side effect is the emergence of a condition called CPA, or continuous partial attention, the new ADD. People are skimming all the time and we are seeing a lot of loss of memory,” Petrou said.

Humanity is being transformed by medical advances. Petrou noted “scientists are close to reversing the real aging process,” although she added that critics warm that an acceleration of the cell renewal process might lead to cancer. Another movement, called “working my body,” involves using devices or implants, or making “synthetic interventions on the body to achieve superhuman results.” Another focus centers on using medical techniques for the injured or infirm to enhance a healthy body’s performance, going from the “disabled to the super-abled.”

Intermarriage, centered more on biological similarities between people than differences, spells “the end of ethnicity,” and sparks “the rebirth of humanity,” Petrou noted, adding that there also is an opposing movement of different ethnic groups clinging to their cultural roots. She ended by predicting that the luxury consumer of tomorrow will be male, Chinese and young.