What Will Our Children Do? 20 Jobs of the Future
Back in January 2010, we wrote a report for the UK government on The Shape of Jobs to Come. The study highlighted new jobs that might emerge in the global economy by 2030 as a result of exponential developments and breakthroughs in science and technology. Many of those are now real jobs, and the rest are still likely to materialise. As an update on those ideas, our recent books, “The Future of Business,” “Beyond Genuine Stupidity—Ensuring AI Serves Humanity,” and “The Future Reinvented—Reimagining Life, Society, and Business,” discuss a whole range of new industries and professions that might emerge as a result of these exponential advances. Below is a selection of 20 new jobs we think could rise to the fore in the coming decade.
The exponential pace of advancement in science and technology is going to enable dramatic changes in society. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, human enhancement, and hyperconnectivity will help transform industries, enable the birth of new sectors, and lead to a whole new set of professions and jobs. These new professions could draw on multiple underlying disciplines. Here are some examples:
- Life Manager for the Techno-Bewildered. Those who struggle with technology and get left behind in the new world order might find themselves placed under the mentorship of new age social workers. These life managers would supervise our every decision, guide us on how to navigate the day to day, and help ensure we use our finances or guaranteed basic incomes in a sustainable manner.
- Robo-Nanny. Replacing the human nanny or au pair, future robotic child carer providers could become constant companions to our children at every stage of their development. Every facet of their character could be selected and tweaked by parents—emotional intelligence, values, ethics, levels of optimism, and even how the bot responds to difficult situations such as the passing of a grandparent. The bot also could be programmed to introduce new learning topics, languages, and life skills as required.
- Sexual Compatibility Consultant. The risk of choosing an inappropriate partner and then having the “wrong” child could see the rise of compatibility specialists. These experts would use AI algorithms to assess everything from IQ and EQ to genetic makeup and family medical history to try and ensure we find the right mating partner.
- Longevity Relationship Counsellors. With humans expected to live 120 years-plus and technology continuing to blur the line between robot and human, new types of marriage and relationship counselors may emerge. These lifelong counsellors will help coach and guide individuals and their many partners across all stages and types of relationships, from traditional monogamy to polygamy and even human-robot or human-VR interminglings.
- End-of-Life Planner/Death Strategist. As lifespans get extended for those who can afford it, deciding when to die becomes a difficult decision. Our choices will need to factor in emotional, health-care, familial, economic, and tax-planning criteria when making the decisions. This will give rise to a new death management profession: part GP, part financial advisor, part family therapist, and part grief counselor.
- Urban Foraging Educators. In the coming decade and beyond, food scarcity may force more of the world’s people to forage for healthy food. In cities, where most of the population will be concentrated, urban foraging education may become a matter of survival. There may be a future demand for experts to train the public in identifying poisonous plants, edible weeds, and wild fruits or vegetables so the population may survive future food shortages. Schools, governments, and private educational providers may seek to hire experts in urban foraging. Future foraging professionals could become as beloved (and marketable) as the celebrity chefs of today.
- Memory Adaptation Specialists. A memory specialist may help us modify our memories and reduce mental health issues. People would be able to erase traumatic memories and replace them with positive ones. The process might be conducted by a specialist with training in psychotherapy and neuroscience. Modifying our memories could have a major impact on our personality. The memory specialist would help us choose the traumatic events we need to erase. The replacement procedure would be done after a series of introspective consultations. A wide catalogue of pleasant memories would be available for selection. People would choose what they want to remember.
- Human Enhancement Technician. As a society, we are starting to augment the human body with chemical, genetic, electronic, and physical enhancements. Body shops will appear on the high street where appropriately trained technicians will be able to perform these upgrades—administering nootropic drugs, genetic modifications, 3-D printed limbs, and electronic brain stimulation.
- Cryogenics Concierge. As more people opt for cryogenic preservation at—or close to—the end of their life, they will need specialist advice. The cryo concierge will provide guidance on different types of cryo procedures, costs, financial planning, the family’s rights and responsibilities, what happens when you are regenerated, insurance, and how to manage the death.
New Societal Roles
- Independent Fact Checker. This role already exists to some extent, but it becomes ever more essential as concerns grow over the proliferation of fake news, companies exaggerating their marketing claims, and politicians arguing about the veracity of each other’s statements. These arbiters of truth will use a swathe of AI systems to check the truth and origin of every claim and fact. Clients will pay them for these services and for a regularly updated assessment of how truthful and accurate their own statements are. Public honesty tables provided by the fact checkers will influence the reputations and fortunes of businesses, politicians, and political parties.
- Crypto Detective. The spread of crypto currencies and initial coin offerings has led to high levels of fraud and concerns over the scale of crypto-based shadow economy transactions. Specialist detectives backed up by AI will be required to unravel crime in the cryptosphere.
- Robot Whisperers. Artificially intelligent robots may comprise a significant part of the future workforce in retail, food service, and hospitality. Companies deploying such robots may require a staff of professional human robot whisperers to stand guard whenever the bots interact with the public. This job would involve behind-the-scenes monitoring of robotic chefs and customer service robots to make sure they don’t run over a person’s foot or knock over a gas grill or cause other such hazards. The whisperer also would monitor for undesirable behvioral changes as the robots learn from and adapt to their environment. Although robotic employees could be highly efficient and autonomous, it is possible that unexpected stimuli in the environment could result in accidents or injuries. Robot whisperers would be a profession geared toward instilling public trust in robot workers.
- Inter-AI Conflict Resolution Specialist. AIs increasingly will need to collaborate. Our personal intelligent assistant may need to interact with the AIs of our bank, our employers, and all the vendors who serve us. Not all AIs will be born equal or have common goals, so disputes could arise. Human arbitrators may need to intervene to get the best outcome for humanity in these disputes.
- Robo-Cop Coordinator. With the increasing capability of AI and robotics, policing could be undertaken by automated robotic systems. These might range from humanoid robots capable of interacting directly with the public to autonomous road vehicles and drones for surveillance. Human oversight would enable resources to be deployed based on the recommendations made by automated systems given the situation observed. The coordinators would be able to supervise a significant number of policing assets, all of which would be capable of operating 24/7.
- Offworld Governors. Dreams of inhabiting other planets and subsea colonies could be realized in the next 10 to 20 years. These new nations will require their own governance systems, behavioral norms, decision-making models, laws, and judicial systems. These could vary dramatically from those witnessed on Earth. Hence, they likely will require a different breed of visionary leaders to envision, run, and continuously evolve these new communities.
- Personal Festival Designer. For the super-wealthy, the next must-have experience could be the creation of their own festival as birthday parties are so 2018. The designer would craft the perfect combination of entertainment, glamping accommodation, gourmet food, tech support services, and on-demand transport using drones and autonomous vehicles.
New Industries—New Professions
- Autonomous Vehicle Ethicist. We will need to establish the guiding principles for decisions made by autonomous vehicles. For example, who or what should the car hit if an accident is inevitable. Depending on where you are in the world, the decision will be governed by different ethical and religious considerations, societal norms, and even economic factors.
- Synthetic Sommelier. The rise in the use of synthetic food products could drive the emergence of experts on all aspects of edible synthetics, lab-grown meat, and 3-D printed foodstuffs. These professionals would be excellent at developing the perfect synth meal for any occasion. They can tell you all the differences in smell, taste, and texture between the synth food and its real, authentic counterpart.
- Chief Augmentation Officer (CAO). Within a decade, an increasing number of staff could be seeking bodily augmentations that render them close to superhuman cyborgs. These humans 2.0 may need to have different management, working conditions, and workplace rights—all designed and overseen by the CAO.
- Space Junk Removal Supervisor. Earth’s orbit increasingly is congested by the remnants of old space missions, obsolete satellites, and the results of accidental collisions and losses. At the same time, the space sector is expected to explode—encompassing everything from asteroid mining and space tourism to the establishment of off-world colonies. In response, dependent upon the type of junk being targeted, different fleets of specialized spacecraft would be controlled, deployed, and coordinated by space junk removal supervisors based at contractors’ ground stations. The experience in low Earth orbit will drive new policies, agreements, and procedures to prevent a similar issue developing around the moon and Mars.
The authors are futurists with Fast Future—a professional foresight firm specializing in delivering keynote speeches, executive education, research, and consulting on the emerging future and the impacts of change for global clients. Fast Future publishes books from leading future thinkers around the world, exploring how developments such as AI, robotics, exponential technologies, and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, societies, businesses, and governments and create the trillion-dollar sectors of the future. Fast Future has a particular focus on ensuring these advances are harnessed to unleash individual potential and enable a very human future. For more information, visit: http://www.fastfuture.com. The authors are also co-editors and/or contributors for the recently published “Beyond Genuine Stupidity—Ensuring AI Serves Humanity” and “The Future Reinvented—Reimagining Life, Society, and Business,” and two forthcoming books: “Unleashing Human Potential—The Future of AI in Business,” and “50:50—Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.”
Rohit Talwar is a global futurist, keynote speaker, author, and the CEO of Fast Future. His prime focus is on helping clients understand the emerging future and shape strategic responses that put people at the center of the agenda. Talwar is the co-author of “Designing Your Future,” lead editor and a contributing author for “The Future of Business,” and editor of “Technology vs. Humanity.”
Steve Wells is an experienced strategist, keynote speaker, futures analyst, partnership working practitioner, and the COO of Fast Future. He has a particular interest in helping clients anticipate and respond to the disruptive bursts of technological possibility that are shaping the emerging future.
Alexandra Whittington is a futurist, writer, Foresight and Publishing director of Fast Future, and a faculty member on the Futures program at the University of Houston. She has a particular expertise in future visioning and scenario planning.
April Koury is a foresight researcher and writer at Fast Future. She has worked on a range of foresight initiatives, including society and media in 2020; emerging economies; and the future of travel, tourism, and transportation.
Helena Calle is a researcher at Fast Future. She is a recent graduate from the MSc. program in Educational Neuroscience at Birkbeck, University of London, and has eight years of international experience as a teacher, teacher trainer, pedagogic coordinator, and education consultant. Calle coordinates Fast Futures’ growing research on the future of learning.