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Posted: November 28, 2011

Fifty-five jobs of the future

All the rest

Thomas Frey

(Editor's note: This is the second of two parts. Read Part 1.)

The coming years will see a number of industries dismantled, requiring a skilled workforce of talented people who can perform this task in the least disruptive way. Most of these industries have been built around aging facilities and infrastructure that will become unnecessary and unsustainable in the future.

These will include:
27. Prison System Dismantlers
28. Hospital and Healthcare Dismantlers
29. Income Tax System Dismantlers
30. Government Agency Dismantlers
31. Education System Dismantlers
32. College and University Dismantlers

Jobs in 2030 and Beyond

A number of technologies currently on the drawing board will require a bit longer lead time before the industry comes into its own. Here are a few examples of these kinds of jobs:

33. Drone Dispatchers - Drones will be used to deliver groceries and pizzas, deliver water, remove trash and sewage, monitor traffic and pollution, and change out the batteries on our homes. Skilled dispatchers for future drones will be high demand.

34. Brain Quants - Where the stock market manipulators of the past meet the brain manipulators of the future to usurp control of Madison Avenue.

35. Tree-Jackers - Plant and tree alteration specialists, who manipulate growth patterns, create grow-to-fit wood products, color-changing leaves, and personalized fruit.

36. Plant Psychologists - An entire profession dedicated to undo the damage caused by the Tree-Jackers

37. Extinction Revivalists - People who revive extinct animals.

38. Robotic Earthworm Drivers - The most valuable land on the planet will soon be the landfills because that is where we have buried our most valuable natural resources. In the future, robotic earthworms will be used to silently mine the landfills and replace whatever is extracted with high-grade soil.

39. Gravity Pullers - The first wave of people to unlock the code for influencing gravity.

40. Time Hackers - If we think cyber terrorists are a pain, it will seem like nothing compared to devious jerry-riggers who start manipulating the time fabric of our lives.

41. Clone Ranchers - Raising "blank" humans will be similar in many respects to cattle ranching. But once a clone is selected, and the personality download is complete, the former clone will instantly be elevated to "human status."

42. Body Part & Limb Makers - The Organ Agents listed above will quickly find themselves out of work as soon as we figure out how to efficiently grow and mass produce our own organs from scratch.

43. Memory Augmentation Therapists - Entertainment is all about the great memories it creates. Creating a better grade of memories can dramatically change who we are and pave the way for an entirely new class of humans.

44. Time Brokers - Time Bank Traders - Where do you go when you run out of time? Naturally, to the time-bank, and take out a time-loan.

45. Space-Based Power System Designers - At some point, the burning of earth's natural resources for power will become a thing of the past. Space-based systems will capture and transmit power far more efficiently than anything currently in existence.

46. Geoengineers - Weather Control Specialists - We are moving past the age of meteorology and climatology to one where the true power-brokers will wield the forces of nature.

47. Plant Educators - An intelligent plant will be capable of re-engineering itself to meet the demands of tomorrow's marketplace. Plant educators will not work with lesson plans or PowerPoint presentations, but the learning process will be even more effective.

48. Nano-Weapons Specialists - Many of the weapons of the future will be too small to be seen by the human eye. And naturally, these will be the most dangerous.

49. Lip Designers - If you could have any lips in the world, what would they look like?

50. Mass Energy Storage Developers - As a society, we have become very good at generating electricity, but are still terrible at storing it from one day to the next. Once mass energy storage systems are developed and installed, our total energy needs will drop precipitously.

51. Earthquake Forecasters - Everything we know about the inside of the earth has been developed through indirect evidence. We have no maps of the center of the earth. We have no accurate diagrams, no understanding of motion, fluidity, or changes happening with any degree of accuracy. While scientists are developing skills to work with nanoscale precision on the earth's surface, the best we can muster below the surface is blindfolded guesswork done with 100-mile precision. What we don't know is literally killing us - over 226,000 killed in 2010 alone. But that will change over time as we begin to understand the inner working of the earth and accurately forecast when the next big quakes are about to hit.

52. "Heavy Air" Engineers - Compressed air is useful in a wide variety of ways. However, we have yet to figure out how to compress streams of air as they pass through our existing atmosphere. Once we do, it will create untold opportunity for non-surface based housing and transportation system, weather control, and other kinds of experimentation.

53. Robot Polishers - If we are going to have robots, they will invariably need to be polished.

54. Amnesia Surgeons - Doctors who are skilled in removing bad memories or destructive behavior.

55. Executioners for Virus-Builders - In the future, virus-builders who get caught will have a choice. They can either go to the electric chair, or spend some quality time with the Amnesia Surgeon.

Final Thoughts

The jobs and occupations listed above are just scratching the surface. This list is intended to help stretch your imagination and start you down a path of imagining your own future.

But I'd love to hear your thoughts. What am I missing? Where have I gone off the reservation and missed the big picture entirely? Are there better names for these professions? And most importantly, how can someone today prepare himself or herself for the changes to come?
Yes, this column includes far more questions than answers. But when it comes to understanding the future, it all begins with asking the right questions.{pagebreak:Page 1}

Thomas Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute and currently Google’s top-rated futurist speaker.  At the Institute, he has developed original research studies, enabling him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. Tom continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come.  His talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level of government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, GE, Blackmont Capital, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Qwest, Allied Signal, Hunter Douglas, Direct TV, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, STAMATS, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Great thoughts, Tom. The future has always promised more free time to relax and do nothing. Will there be someone to watch my TV, root for my favorite team, or do my regular exercise for me? We have dog walkers today and can they do my walking? Then when I just sit there and stew, I'll turn into a bowl of jello. Then there will be a need for more people to take care of just me. By George Tyler on 2011 11 28
Hi Tom. Good stuff as always. What a FUN series! A couple of thoughts, though. The whole "time broker, time loan" thing seems a bit far-fetched to me in basically 19 years. Manipulation of time has just gotten started, and hasn't gotten very far yet. But...if there was a breakthrough in that arena you might be right. What do you know that the rest of us don't? As for the gravity manipulators, I know someone who has gotten pretty far with that NOW, so I don't think it will be all that far in the future. I'm not sure what you mean by a "Brain Quant," and would like to know more about that. I think that the use of drones and other robots are in the very near future, not 20 years down the line. As for "robot polishers," I wonder if robots will be made of metal on the outside, or look very human. But I do think that there will be plenty of opportunity for people who repair and upgrade household robots. "Amnesia surgeons?" There are better ways than surgery to remove memories, I would think. Perhaps highly skilled psychologists with chemical or electrical systems to simply wipe some memories? As for intelligent plants, don't we already have SEMI-intelligent plants? Aren't they called "Congress?" I do think you left out a couple, though. As we develop further a system that jacks the computer right into our brains through micro-wires (a currently existing and developing technology), there will be a huge market for people who deal with that. I also think that, in addition to growing cloned limbs and bodies, we will become cyborgs to a great degree. Right now, artificial limbs are being developed that hook into the nerves that are left after amputation and produce sensation, fine motor control, etc. Additionally, I'd look for new, waterless toilets (perhaps using force fields to completely eliminate human waste, or advanced composting technology to reuse it) and other waste disposal or utilization products and techs, and population control technicians, either in private industry or the government as the carrying capacity of our world is stressed and people continue to overpopulate. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 11 28

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