Thomas Frey

Thomas Frey, a futurist from the DaVinci Institute in the United States predicts that by 2030 people will rely on billions of drones and sensors to live.

Every time you download a mobile app you eliminate a piece of a job – welcome to the future of a careerless society.

The career ladder will be replaced with new technology and people will no longer count on a job for the rest of their lives, he said.

“In 2030, the average person will have rebooted their career six times because things are moving so quickly.”

Frey is in New Zealand this week speaking with the agriculture sector and government agencies in Wellington about the future of jobs and new technology.

Emerging technology was taking jobs away but giving society superhuman abilities and instant access to think, know and do faster, he said.

“We are automating jobs out of existence quickly. When we download apps, we don’t have to buy physical products that people manufacture. Every time you download a mobile app you eliminate a piece of a job – a tiny piece but billions of apps are lots of jobs.”

Atmospheric water harvesters, sensors, 3D printing, drones and driverless cars were all ripe for creating entire new industries, he said.

New sectors still required people to invent technology and people with skills to work in the industry, so education was the key to future jobs, he said.

The traditional tertiary education path was too slow for fast-moving industries and the New Zealand education sector needed to consider micro colleagues to keep pace and respond to emerging industry trends.

The DaVinci Institute started the second (there are now 300) micro-college in the US and teaches computer programming in 14 weeks.

New Zealand had a lot of creative thinkers and he had seen impressive examples of ingenuity.

“You have a lot of raw talent to do some amazing things.”

Frey’s predictions for 2030


• A billion drones in the world with apps for various uses.

• A Canadian inventor has created a drone that people can stand on and fly15 feet in the air.

• Google and Facebook have both bought companies that make solar powered drones, which can fly at the edge of the atmosphere and will never have to come down. They plan to provide Wi-Fi for the whole world – like a high-flying cell tower – and may start providing a phone service using them.

• Drones had the potential to eliminate forest fires.

• The agriculture industry will be one of the first industries to rely on drones.


• By 2024, there will be one trillion sensors in the world and by 2036, there will be one hundred trillion. They will be used everywhere – in the walls of building, in clothing and printed into the skin.

• Clothing stores will use them to scan the body shape of a shopper and once they pick a style, an outfit will be 3D printed.

Atmospheric water harvesters

• These pull moisture out of the air and one is currently being used in an African village. Another company has developed a prototype for a self-filling water bottle, which has the potential to be a life saving product.

Food and Drink

• A biorhythmic coffee maker will tell you how many coffees your body needs to drink in a day, just by placing your hands on it.

• How we eat is becoming much more science-based and individuals are turning to specific diets. These hypersensitive diets will change how we eat out in restaurants. Technology will scan diners and tell them what they need to eat.

Future jobs

• Data hostage specialist

• Computer personality designer

• Energy storage developers

• Drone designers

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