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Posted: May 30, 2013

The futurist: More about robots here to take your job

The work of the future

Thomas Frey

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

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

Rest assured, there will always be more problems than mankind has solutions for. Since virtually every solution generates additional problems, the area of problem-solving alone has a seemingly infinite number of opportunities that lie ahead.

In addition to fixing our current ailments, many will opt instead to pursue a higher calling, and these will include a myriad of possibilities.

  • Cures – In the medical world we need to step past treating the ailments and focus on long-term cures. These include cures for cancer, aides, MS, epilepsy, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and many more. Some will even focus on ending human aging altogether, an area with strong near-term potential.
  • Natural Disasters – We have an obligation to somehow mitigate the impact of natural disasters. This will include efforts to stop forest fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, avalanches, tornadoes, hail, and flooding to name just a few.
  • Correcting Deviant Behavior – Many among us go through traumatizing events that cause personalities to skew far from society’s norm. Others have brain defects that cause outrageous behavior. To some, these are the problems most deserving of their time and attention.
  • Colonizing Other Planets – Many believe that the human race cannot survive if all humans only live on one planet. Traveling to distant worlds has been the lifelong dream of many and living in a super efficient society will bring that dream ever closer to reality.
  • Ending Extreme Poverty – Too much of humanity is still slipping between the cracks. A fully engaged world puts everyone to work, not just the gifted few.
  • Discovery & Exploration – Even with all our scientific advancements we still don’t know what’s inside the earth or what gravity is. At the same time we are discovering new species of fish, animals, insects, and birds on a regular basis. When it comes to discovery and exploration, we’ve only scratched the surface.
  • Trailblazing Firsts – Few of us remember the 2nd person to set foot on the moon, or the 2nd person to invent the airplane, or the 2nd one to run a mile in under 4 minutes. We place a disproportionate amount of attention on those who go first, and there are a lot of “firsts” that still need to be accomplished.
  • Extending Human Abilities and Capabilities – Human awareness ends at the outer reaches of our capabilities. We have little understanding of distant universes, sub-atomic particles, and other dimensions. Extending human abilities and capabilities will open doors in places we didn’t know doors existed. 

Final Thoughts 

No, the robot knocking at your front door is not the boogeyman that so many are dreading. It’s easy to look around and see what exists today, but the true visionaries are looking at what’s missing. And “what’s missing” is where the real opportunities lie.

With today’s automations, jobs are disappearing faster than ever before in history. The only way to compensate for this is to build new businesses and new industries from scratch.

Several studies have shown that every job lost will be replaced many times over with emerging new industries. What’s less clear are the systems needed to fully leverage the opportunities as quickly as they occur.

A fully automated society is a powerful one, and the country with the most responsive systems to adjust to these new realities, and leverage change quickly will rise in prominence on the world stage.

Sometimes that which we fear most has a way of becoming our biggest asset.

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.

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