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Posted: April 01, 2014

The futurist: The first 47 of 162 jobs of the future

Plus 14 hot new skills

Thomas Frey

Recently, I was speaking at an event in Istanbul. As usual, once I landed at the airport, I made my way to the customs area, where I was greeted by no fewer than 1,000 people in line ahead of me.

Long lines in airport customs is not unusual. But as I waded through this 45-minute process, I couldn’t help but do some mental calculations about the massive waste of human capital. Since there were two separate customs areas at the Istanbul airport, my rough calculations came out to well over 10 million man-hours a year wasted at this one airport.

It’s not unusual for governments to waste people’s time over what they like to phrase as “the greater good.” However, this entire security process will eventually be automated down to a fraction of the time it takes today, eliminating the need for over 90 percent of all customs agents.

The same goes for TSA-like security agents on the front end of airports. Within the next decade, 90% of those jobs will be gone as well. All of them, automated out of existence.

A recent article in The Economist quotes Bill Gates as saying at least a dozen job types will be taken over by robots and automation in the next two decades, and these jobs cover both high-paying and low-skilled workers. Some of the positions he mentioned were commercial pilots, legal work, technical writing, telemarketers, accountants, retail workers, and real estate sales agents.

Indeed, as I’ve predicted before, by 2030, more than 2 billion jobs will disappear. Again, this is not a doom and gloom prediction, rather a wakeup call for the world.

Will we run out of work for the world? Of course not. Nothing is more preposterous than to somehow proclaim the human race no longer has any work left to do. But having paid jobs to coincide with the work that needs to be done, and developing the skills necessary for future work is another matter.

Our goal needs to be focused on the catalytic innovations that create entirely new industries, and these new industries will serve as the engines of future job creation, unlike anything in all history.

I have written in the past about future industries. This time I’d like to focus on many of the future jobs within these industries that currently don’t exist.

 Facing the Transition Ahead

Many people are scared of the future. With every science fiction movie that portrays technology as evil, and let’s be honest, that’s the theme of almost every science fiction movie that’s ever existed, it’s easy to develop some paranoia about the dangers ahead.

However, much of today’s technology is giving us super-human attributes. The same technology that gets blamed for eliminating our jobs, is also giving us capabilities beyond our wildest dreams. We have instant access to friends and family, instant access to answers for almost any question we ask, and instant entertainment if ever we get bored.

We can now think-faster, know-faster, and do-faster than ever before. We no longer end up being the “last to know.”

At the same time, every new technology also requires new skill sets for those working in those environments. Here are just a few of the skills that will be highly prized in the future.

14 Hot New Skills

1. Transitionists – Those who can help make a transition.

2. Expansionists – A talent for adapting along with a growing environment.

3. Maximizers – An ability to maximize processes, situations, and opportunities.

4. Optimizers – The skill and persistence to tweak variables until it produces better results.

5. Inflectionists – Finding critical inflection points in a system will become a much-prized skill.

6. Dismantlers – Every industry will eventually end, and this requires talented people who know how to scale things back in an orderly fashion.

7. Feedback Loopers – Those who can devise the best possible feedback loops.

8. Backlashers – Ever- new technology will have its detractors, and each backlash will require a response.

9. Last Milers – Technologies commonly reach a point of diminishing returns as they attempt to extend their full capacity to the end user. People with the ability to mastermind these solutions will be in hot demand.

10. Contexualists – In between the application and the big picture lays the operational context for every new technology.

11. Ethicists – There will be an ever-growing demand for people who can ask the tough question and standards to apply moral decency to some increasingly complex situations.

12. Philosophers – With companies in a constant battle over “my-brain-is-bigger-that-your-brain,” it becomes the overarching philosophy that wins the day.

13. Theorists – Every new product, service, and industry begins with a theory.

14. Legacists – Those who are passionate and skilled with leaving a legacy.

162 Jobs of the Future

Predicting future jobs is an exercise that involves looking at future industries and speculating on ways in which they will be different than the workforce today. Business management, engineering, accounting, marketing, and sales are all necessary skills for the future, but the work involved will also be different. 

At the same time there will be many less-obvious positions that will need to be created. This is about those less-obvious positions.

The following is not an exhaustive list, nor do these job titles all have good explanations. Rather, this column is intended to be a thought-generator, an idea-sparker, to help you draw your own conclusions.

Personal Rapid Transit Systems (PRTs)

PRTs like Hyperloop, Skytran, Jpods, and ET3 offer a new dimension in transportation. They operate above the fray, independent of the frenetic energy of today’s highways, airports, train, and bus depots. Details here

1. Station Designers & Architects

2. Circulation Engineers

3. Traffic Flow Analyzers

4. Command Center Operators

5. Traffic Transitionists

6. Impact Minimizers

7. Demand Optimizers

8. Secondary Opportunity Developers

9. Feedback Loopers

10. Construction Teams – PRTs have the potential to become the largest infrastructure project the earth has ever seen, costing literally trillions of dollars and employing hundreds of millions of people.Details here

Atmospheric Water Harvesters

One of today’s most significant breakthroughs is happening in the area of atmospheric water harvesters, being developed by a new breed of water innovators intent on solving one of earth’s most vexing problems.

11. Site Collection Lease Managers

12. System Architects

13. Water Supply Transitionists

14. Purification Monitors

15. Impact Assessors

Creating the God Globe

The “God Globe” is intended to be a master command center for planet earth, where we will, for the first time ever, begin to control nature’s greatest forces. Details here

16. Global System Architect

17. Data Integration Manager

18. Inflectionists – Those who can pinpoint the optimal intersection of time, place, and information for change to occur.

19. Fear Containment Managers

20. Privacy Theorists, Philosophers, and Ethicists 

The Sharing Economy 

The sharing economy is creating some amazing business models around the use of “other people’s stuff.”

21. Sharability Auditors – People who analyze homes and businesses for sharable assets.

22. Corporate Sharing Managers

23. Opportunity Spotters

24. Impact Assessors

25. Involvement Specialists 

The Quantified Self 

The “quantified self” is all about building a measurable information sphere around each of us. As we get better acquainted with the Delphic maxim “know thyself,” we will become far more aware of our deficiencies and the pieces needed to shore up our shortfalls. Details here.

26. Quantified Self Assessment Auditors

27. Data Contexualists

28. Deficiency Analyzers

29. Skill Quantifiers

30. Bio-Waste Optimizers

31. Guardians of Privacy

Future Sports

Sports have become the ultimate form of storytelling. Each contest is a test of the human spirit, with good guys and bad guys pairing off, amidst great drama, as contestants test their limits overcoming adversity, to achieve an unknown outcome. And all of this is happening in real time. Details here.

32. Simulation Specialists

33. Genetic Modification Designers and Engineers

34. Body Modification Ethicists

35. Athlete Qualification Analyzers

36. Cradle to Grave Lifecycle Managers

37. Super Baby Designers

38. Super Baby Psychologists

39. Super Baby Advocates 

Commercial Drone Industry

The U.S. Congress has mandated the FAA develop a plan to incorporate drones into national airspace by Sept. 30, 2015. Many in this new industry are chomping at the bit to get started.

40. Drone Classification Gurus – Different laws will apply to different classifications of drone vehicles.

41. Drone Standards Specialists

42. Drone Docking Designers and Engineers

43. Operator Certification Specialists

44. Environmental Minimizers – Sound diminution engineers, visual aesthetic reductionists, etc.

45. Drone Traffic Optmizers

46. Automation Engineers

47. Backlash Minimizers – Ever-new technology has its detractors, this perhaps more than most.

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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