I had the pleasure of talking with futurist and the managing partner of ChangeistScott Smith recently about some of the biggest macro trends everyone should be aware of today. While these trends had already begun prior to the coronavirus pandemic, in many ways, they accelerated as the world fought to deal with the pandemic and now as we begin to build our post-COVID-19 world. Here are the six future trends he believes everyone should be ready for.
When you hear the word futurist, what comes to mind? You might think about those fortune teller stands at the fair — for $50, you can learn at what age you’ll die, if you will ever find true love, and address any other deep-seated insecurities. But where fortune tellers will root their predictions in divine forces and mystical unexplained powers, futurists make their predictions based on stone cold facts. A futurist is a kind of consultant who makes predictions based on future trends they identify. Their point of view can even impact how companies design products or how communities run their outreach, which makes being a futurist officially one of the coolest jobs of all time.
“When I was younger I didn’t know this job existed, so I often ask myself how I ended up with it,” Ford’s in-house futurist, Sheryl Connelly, tells Bustle. “What I really wanted to do was be an artist. But when I look back I feel like it was divine intervention or that it was my destiny.”
Futurists like Connelly spend their days recognizing trends, explaining why they’re recognizing it, and suggests how the trend might make an impact on a global scale — so that brands can take advantage of that forward-thinking insight for their future products. Sound complex? I agree, which is why I was surprised to learn that it’s a field that anyone can fall into — among other mind-blowing facts about this job. Here are 12 things all future futurists should know about this unconventional career path.
Growing up, computers were mainly tools for automating secretarial tasks, not for professional work. Economist Robert Solow observed around that time, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”
But in the late 1990’s information technology became truly transformative. Combined with the commercial Internet and email, they became conduits to a continuous flow of information that could be processed, analyzed and turned into action. It’s likely that we’re in the early days of a similar productivity boom today, as connectivity begins to transform physical machines.
Futurist Thomas Frey: We’re standing on the brink of an A.I. technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.
Several early use cases for A.I. have begun to open our eyes as to how it will be used, but none quite as strikingly as when Google’s DeepMind was used to play the Atari game – Breakout.
A little over two years ago I mentioned a new anticipatory thinking tool I’ve developed called “situational futuring.” It helps me gain better insight into the world ahead. Until now I hadn’t given too many details about how it worked, but I recently decided to reveal the entire process and how to apply it.
While I’ve been very protective about the crazy brain games I use for developing predictions, this will give you a sneak peek into one of the secret tools I use for thinking about the future.
Futurist Thomas Frey: I often wake up in the middle of the night with a big idea, something I’ve dubbed the grand epiphany. But as it turns out, very few actually fit into the “grand” category.
Whenever they do, big ideas carries with them a heavy responsibility, the responsibility of either moving them forward or allowing them to die in the silent echo chambers of our own grey matter.
For this reason, I’ve often equated my eureka moments to that of being tortured by my own ideas. Yes, grand ideas are a wonderful playground where you can dream about starting a new company, solving some of the world’s biggest problems, and constructing visions of wealth and influence, all in the time it takes most people to get ready for work.
Futurist Thomas Frey: It was rather anticlimactic when it finally happened, but the front door simply failed to open.
Futurist Thomas Frey: When my oldest son Darby was 8 years old, he looked at his 3-year old sister, Shandra, and pointedly said, “She’s worthless! She couldn’t save anyone!”
Futurist Thomas Frey: A robot does not kill someone out of fear, anger, or desperation. They kill because someone told them to do it. At least that the way it works with our current generation of robots. What comes next may be a different story.
Normally, when we think about war, it has to do with countries using their armies to fight other countries, or in the case of a civil war, countries torn apart by internal rival factions.
But that line of thinking is far too narrow for the conflicts in our future as our choice of weaponry and choice of battlefront continues to expand.
From my perspective, the traditional country vs. country war tends to be far more about political theater, a theater that plays out on the world stage in full view of the public, than the subversive battles being fought over countless levels of minutia in the background.
Futurist Thomas Frey: In March of 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first online message that would eventually lead to the World Wide Web, it was similar to the first car leaving an inventor’s workshop.
The highway system for cars started on horse and buggy trails and the Internet was born on switching networks designed for telephones. With roads turning into sophisticated highways and phone lines morphing into fiber and wireless networks, we begin to get a sense as to where we’ve come from.
Futurist Tom Frey: When I first brought up the idea of coworking taking over colleges, it seemed like an absurd notion. But there is a secret reason that very few people are grasping.
At first glance, the highly structured ivory towers of academia seem to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from the unstructured anything-goes world of coworking. But the more I thought about it, it seems inevitable that the two are on a collision course.
In fact, it’s already happening, but not in the ways you may imagine.
Many believe that corporations will soon beef up their core leadership teams, delegating the increasingly complex attributes of the modern organization to in-house, executive-level experts and allowing them to keep foundational business knowledge close to the top. Continue reading… “C-Suite jobs of the future”