More By This Author

Current Issue

Current Issue

Posted: April 04, 2014

The futurist: The last batch of 162 future jobs

Starting with "driverless everything"

Thomas Frey

(Editor's note: This the last of three parts. Read Part 1 and Part 2.)

Driverless technology will initially require a driver, but it will quickly creep into everyday use much as airbags did: First as an expensive option for luxury cars, but eventually a safety feature stipulated by the government.

Over the next 10 years, we will see the first wave of autonomous vehicles hit the roads, with some of the first inroads made by vehicles that deliver packages, groceries and fast-mail envelopes. 

104. Delivery Dispatchers

105. Traffic Monitoring System Planners, Designers, and Operators

106. Automated Traffic Architects and Engineers

107. Driverless “Ride Experience” Designers

108. Driverless Operating System Engineers

109. Emergency Crews for when things go wrong.

Bio-Factories

Based on using living systems, “bio-factories” represent a new process for creating substances that are either too tricky or too expensive to grow in nature or to make with petrochemicals. The rush to develop bio-factories as a means for production not only promises to revolutionize the chemical industry but also transform the economy. Hundreds of products are already in the pipeline.

110. Nano-Medics – The medical problems most people have can be traced to a single cell or a small group of them. Health professionals capable of working on the nano-level, both in designing diagnostics systems, remedies, and monitoring solutions will be in high demand.

111. Bio-Factory Doctors, Strategists, and Developers

112. DNA Scientists

113. Gene Sequencers

114. Treatment Monitors

Micro-Colleges 

The systems used to create colleges centuries ago seems justifiably primitive by today’s standards. Learning formulas for nearly every degree are based on hours, one of the least important considerations when it comes to assessing talent. Colleges today cost far too much, and they take far too long. For this reason, a new wave of full-immersion skill training centers, or Micro Colleges, has begun to emerge.Details here.

115. School Designers

116. Policy Advisors

117. Career Transitionists

118. Goal Counselors

119. Student Relationship Managers

120. Student Mentors, Coaches, and Counselors

Senior Living

With almost 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, the number of seniors who need specialized housing will only increase the need for more options and better solutions.

121. Legacists – Managing people’s legacy

122. Lifestyle Housing Designers

123. Aging Specialists

124. Situational Therapists

125. Life-Stage Attendants

126. Memorial Designers

127. Octogenarian Service Providers – As the population continues the age we will have record numbers of people living into their 80s, 90s, and 100s. This mushrooming group of active oldsters will provide a demand for goods and services currently not being addressed in today’s marketplace.

Future Agriculture

When people think of farming, they typically conjure up images of a tractor cresting a hill billowing large plumes of exhaust into the air. This image will become a distant memory as automated machines, drones, and swarmbots enter the pictures. As with all industries, there are many micro-forces driving the changes in future agriculture. But there are three dominant trend lines – precision, relevance, and control – that will be driving this industry.

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

129. Molecular Gastronomists

130. Bio-Meat Factory Engineers

131. Supply Chain Optimizers

132. Urban Agriculturalists – Why ship food all the way around the world when it can be grown next door.

133. Bio-Hacking Inspectors and Security

134. Swarmbot and Drone Operators and Managers

135. 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.

136. Plant Psychologists & Plant Therapists – As we mess with the “minds” of the plants, there will invariably be any number of unplanned reactions.

The Dismantlers

Over the coming years will see a number of industries dismantled, and this will require a skilled workforce of talented people who can perform this task in the least disruptive way. It’s easy to spot these industries by their aging systems, facilities, and infrastructure. In many cases they have become unnecessary and unsustainable in the future, and will be scaled back to a fraction of their current size.

137. Prison System Dismantlers – Details here.

138. Hospital and Healthcare Dismantlers – Details here.

139. Income Tax System Dismantlers - Details here.

140. Government Agency Dismantlers – Details here.

141. Education System Dismantlers - Details here.

142. College and University Dismantlers - Details here.

143. Airport Security Systems Dismantlers

144. Airport Customs Dismantlers

Extreme Innovation

Outside of the multiple categories listed above are a number of unusual jobs, many still decades away. Here are just a few to whet your appetite.

145. Extinction Revivalists – People who revive extinct animals.

146. 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.

147. Avatar Designers – Next generation avatars will become indistinguishable from humans on a two-dimensional screen. However, avatars will only live in the computer world for a short time longer. It is only a matter of time before they emerge from the computer and appear as visual beings, walking around among us. Once an avatar goes through the radical metamorphosis from an image that we see on a screen to a three dimensional being that joins us for dinner, carries on conversations with our friends, and serves as a stand-in for us at meetings, we will see work start on an even more realistic avatar, one that we can touch.

148. Gravity Pullers – The first wave of people to unlock the code for influencing gravity.

149. 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.

150. 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.”

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

152. Global System Architects – Our systems are transitioning from national systems into global systems. Architects of these new global systems will play a crucial role in future global politics.

153. 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.

154. 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.

155. 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.

156. Brain Quants – Where the stock market manipulators of the past meet the brain manipulators of the future to usurp control of marketing and messaging on Madison Avenue.

157. Nano-Weapons Specialists – Many of the weapons of the future will be too small to be seen by the human eye.

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

159. 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.

160. “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 systems, weather control, and other kinds of experimentation.

161. Amnesia Surgeons – Doctors who are skilled in removing bad memories or destructive behavior.

162. 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.

Final Thoughts

In much the same way that the 1985 Apple LaserWriter gave birth to desktop publishing, the 2010 MakerBot’s Thing-O-Matic 3D printer gave birth to desktop manufacturing.

Automation is no longer the domain of the elite few, and the quicker we can make the transition to all industries, the quicker everyone can participate.

The list above is just scratching the surface. When we automate jobs out of existence, that doesn’t mean there is no work left to do. We are freeing up human capital, and this human capital can be put to work creating millions of new jobs in thousands of new industries.

It will, however, require a whole new level of system thinking to unleash these pent up ambitions.

Please feel free to join in the discussion and weigh in with your thoughts below. Your ideas, comments, and opinions are much appreciated.

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

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

ColoradoBiz TV

Loading the player ...

Featured Video