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When you ask around, it seems there’s a general dissatisfaction with the quality of the ‘future’ that we received. Everyone was expecting to see flying cars, people on hover boards (thanks, Back to the Future) and silver jumpsuits; where are they?
In fact though, the world has changed much more in the last couple of decades than it ever has done. The only difference is that the ‘real future’ is so out-there that it’s no one was even able to predict it. Smartphones for instance are devices that give us access to all the world’s information and let us install all manner of software on the move.
Then there are 3D printers – machines that can create practically any object out of thin air in no time at all. And what about virtual reality? There are few concepts more futuristic than that – and it’s finally happening!
Not only have all these changes impacted greatly on the way we live our lives, they also have a huge impact on the way we work and the way businesses operate.
This is only going to become more the case as we move forward and in the next ten years, you can expect the jobs that most people to do to be unrecognizable from the way they are today.
Print On Demand publishing has already completely revolutionized the publishing industry. It means that companies no longer to order in huge amounts of books and then try to sell them – they can print them as and when they need to.
In turn, this has resulted in many authors and writers skipping the publishing companies altogether. Why do they need them at all when they can create a professional book themselves and market it online?
3D printing threatens to do the same to the hardware industry. Imagine being able to go online, find a model you like, and then print it in your home. That could be a piece of crockery, an item of jewelry, a cycle crash helmet… you name it!
Suddenly, manufacturing will cease to matter the way it does today. Instead, the money we make will come from the ability to model and to think of great ideas alone. Thus we’ll start to see more and more people who work as ‘modellers’ and who sell their creations online for others to print.
For larger scale operations, maintaining and manning this technology will become a big job and is likely to affect pretty much every industry. Even food can be 3D printed these days so restaurants looking to stand out might do well to hire someone with the right skills in the future.
One exciting new type of career that’s already emerging thanks to new technology, is the option to become a ‘digital nomad’. This is someone who works from anywhere in the world by using the internet to find clients/customers and to provide value. Digital nomads will often travel the world, visiting different locations and working from libraries and coffee shops.
This is likely something that will increase to a great degree. In the future, many people will work for themselves online because the technology will make it that much easier. For instance, imagine being able to put on your virtual reality headset and step into a virtual office, complete with other workers and even virtual ‘computers’ that you can work at. In such a reality, there’s really no need for busy commutes and there’s no need to tie yourself to just one employer.
Another thing we’ll see more of, is service providers working via telecommunication. This was demoed impressively on the new ‘HoloLens’ device from Microsoft. HoloLens allows you to view holograms and information overlayed on top of what you’re seeing in the real world (augmented reality). This means for instance, that someone could use a tablet to ‘draw’ on your vision, pointing to wires or pipes while they talk you through procedures. Why have a plumber round when they can do the same job remotely through augmented reality?
Meanwhile, the Kinect makes it possible to view details about a person such as their heart rate and weight distribution. Imagine using this to offer personal training.
A whole new industry that’s likely to be big news in the future, is transhumanism. Transhumanism is a movement that describes using technology in order to help people improve themselves. You can be faster, smarter and healthier by using electrical implants, brain supplements and more.
We’re already seeing a ton of new commercial brain supplements (called ‘nootropics’) popping up online and we’re likely to see much more of this sort of thing going forward.
The medical industry will also be completely changed over the next few decades as gene therapy becomes more common place and prosthetics become more advanced.
It’s impossible to predict the exact trajectory that careers will take but what we can say for certain is that certain technologies are very much going to mix things up in the near future. If you want to be ready, then it pays to pick up some IT skills, some biology and some business acumen.