A recent opinion-piece in Wired magazine is titled flatly: “Futurism is Dead.” The article condemns the field of futurism and the World Future Society in particular as failures because the record of predictions from professional futurists has been so bad. The great irony is that there has been no publication with as many articles over the past 10 to 15 years full of failed predictions as Wired. The most famous is their cover story seven or eight years ago that said adamantly than the Internet browsers like Netscape and Explorer were finished and that the future of the Internet was “push” technology. Couldn’t have been more wrong. And nobody did more to hype the notion of the so-called New Economy that would soar forever on constantly evolving technology than Wired.
Nevertheless, the idea of futuring is worth some discussion.
Something you tend to wonder about when thinking about the future is: how many people will be around and for how long?
According to the latest UN projections the world population will reach 8.9 billion folks by 2050 and top-out at 9 billion around 2300. The US will reach about 500 million. Fewer kids and more AIDS will put the brakes on growth.
In this Journal article The author distinguishes four areas of Internet use: communication (electronic mail), community (virtual support groups), content (health information on the World Wide Web), and e-commerce. It provides some insight into what could be with regards to the possible use of the internet to create online and real life support groups and patient services.
The Silicon Valley 40 miles south of the CA Div Office seems to me a kind of fishbowl for the future, especially regarding jobs and business change. I think what’s happening in the information technology sector is a harbinger of things to come in many parts of the economy, i.e., we’re seeing before our eyes the materialization of 21st century economics for labor, goods and services.
So, although the article is titled, “Dear Unemployed Techie,” it’s got a lot of good insight that applies to the future of work. Basically:
The lifetime job using a fixed set of skills is disappearing. It may be reasonable to expect to change jobs every few years and to change fields at least once a decade. This means that almost everyone needs to learn to think like an entrepreneur. In particular, spotting trends is important.