Outlook 2015: Top Trends and Forecasts for the Decade Ahead

The Futurist, November-December 2014 | Go to article overview

Outlook 2015: Top Trends and Forecasts for the Decade Ahead


INTRODUCTION

Tomorrow's computers will know exactly what you mean, and they'll be able to tell when you're lying. They'll take over many jobs, but accelerate economic growth to such an extent that we may not have to work after all--or we'll invent more creative and useful occupations for ourselves. The key to our future will be our adaptability, and in that regard, let's hope we are able to keep up with the rats.

These are just a few of the intriguing trends and forecasts you'll find in this latest edition of Outlook, a roundup of the most thought-provoking possibilities and ideas published in THE FUTURIST magazine over the past year.

The forecasts collected in the World Future Society's annual Outlook reports are not intended to predict the future, but rather to provoke thought and inspire action for building a better future today.

The opinions and ideas expressed are those of their authors or sources cited and do not necessarily represent the views of the World Future Society. For more information, please refer to the original articles cited. Back issues of THE FUTURIST may be purchased at www.wfs.org/backissues.

--THE EDITORS

WORK AND THE ECONOMY

Two billion jobs will disappear by 2030.

The good news is that the jobs replacing those disappearing occupations are being invented now.

Technological and economic forces will wipe out countless job categories, but more will rise in their place, says FUTURIST innovation editor Thomas Frey. Among the job-inventing industries on the rise are 3-D printing, commercial drones, biofactories, personal rapid transit systems, and innovative new living and learning environments, such as micro colleges and senior living solutions.

Thomas Frey, "Inventing Tomorrow's Jobs," July-Aug 2014, p. 6

Climate change could increase the costs of doing business; it could also offer more business opportunities.

Enterprises everywhere should brace for major impacts from climate change. On one hand, it will raise the costs of doing business in many sectors by disrupting production and supply chains, raising insurance rates, sabotaging electricity and water sources, and causing mass migrations of many workforces to safer locations.

On the other hand, thawing of the Arctic will create new shipping, mining, and oil-drilling opportunities, and demand will surge for new businesses that help consumers withstand extreme weather and climate turbulence.

Organizations need to weigh the potential risks and costs of climate change and factor adaptation into their strategic planning, recommend researchers from A. T. Kearney in Germany.

World Trends & Forecasts, Nov-Dee 2013, p. 7

Advances in artificial intelligence could create a rapidly accelerating economy, but one that pushes more human workers aside.

The challenge of building a truly intelligent machine may boil down to scanning a human brain down to every minute detail and then constructing a computer that perfectly emulates it. Engineers could achieve this in another 30 to 75 years.

Once they do, billions of fully operational, independent-living

emulations of human beings--"ems," for short--could be living and working among us. Whole new cities of ems might emerge, while unemployed humans everywhere compete with these robotic minds for jobs.

Keep in mind that a rapidly growing economy could offer more opportunities for specialization, as well as more varied cultural opportunities--music, art, and novels, for instance. It could also lead to bigger gaps between rich and poor nations, firms, and individuals.

Robin Hanson, "When the Economy Transcends Humanity," Jan-Feb 2014, p. 27

Teachers may be glad to be replaced by machines when it comes to grading papers. And Al will offer fairer, faster scoring.

Raising academic achievement in the United States has largely meant raising standards--and conducting more standardized testing. …

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