So what does the future hold? A futurist tells all.
From an unrecognisable job market to social credit scores, author Anders Sorman-Nilsson sheds some light on the upcoming “second renaissance”.
As real-time language translation and brain-computer interfaces enter the retail market, there’s no denying that fantastical visions of the digital future are increasingly becoming part of our everyday lives. It seems new frontiers – from the weird and wacky to the practical, to the downright jaw-dropping – are being declared and met in quick succession in the global race to new technological extremes. And as we welcome the New Year, there’s no telling what the future holds – or is there?
Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson is an innovation strategist, futurist and author of numerous books tackling the future of human transformation and “digital” minds. Through analysis of key signs and data, the TEDx keynote speaker shares his top five predictions of 2019 and beyond.
1. The future of travel is biometric
“Within just five years, the way we travel will be a far cry from today. To board an international flight will require little more than stopping to pose for a photo thanks to facial recognition technology. This means no more passports, tickets, or long customs queues. Rather, travellers will simply pause for a camera which will have inbuilt facial scanning, and then pass through customs and immigration in a matter of minutes – all thanks to biometrics. Increasingly, Alexa will also play a big part in our travel, with the robot offering advice to consumers on their travel plans. In fact, robo-advice will become mainstream within the next 3–5 years,” says Anders. “And in just a few short years, we may not even have to travel at all. Virtual Reality will become so good that we will be able to take a holiday that’s fully immersive in the comfort of our own homes.”
2. The infusion of the biological and the technological
Brain implants letting us read each other’s minds and augmented reality that will enable those that are legally or partially blind to wear ‘smart specs’ to help them with everyday tasks, are all technologies of the future,” says Anders. “It’s hard to imagine a world where 3D bio printers will build custom organs, robo-advisors will take over the role of human financial advisors and will use algorithms to calibrate a financial portfolio, or ‘social credit scores’ will be implemented to take into account a person’s bad driving, smoking habits or if they post fake news online to determine a ‘score’ that may punish them with slower internet, travel restrictions or prevent them from getting a good job. But these are all technologies that are being created right now and will be available in just a few years’ time.”
3. Most jobs in the future don’t even exist yet
“The job landscape will be unrecognisable in a decade’s time. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, 65% of children today will end up in jobs that simply don’t even exist yet, including coding ethicists to problem-solve eventualities that may arise with future technologies, or experience creators who will work for companies in the ‘transformation economy’ offering customers experiences and self-development to transform themselves. We are entering a second renaissance and a creativity explosion, where robots will take care of the boring, admin jobs for us, and jobs will focus on creativity and emotional intelligence. As such, unlike when we were younger, and creativity was stifled in children, these skills and thinking outside the box will be crucial for future roles. As parents, we must ensure our children are being taught these in school, as well as being adaptable and able to think critically to prepare them to thrive in the workforce of the future,” states Anders.
4. Greater digitised trust
“There will be a shift away from the hype around bitcoin to the underlying and life-changing form that is blockchain,” comments Anders. “This particular technology will enable smart, self-executing contracts to digitise trust. Commercial transactions that are readable by machines will be transformed, with property transactions, mortgage settlements and more using digitised trust and opening up human willingness to engage in binding agreements. Insurance will also benefit from blockchain-based solutions. For example, blockchain will be able to securely access electronic medical records to issue a policy within minutes and trigger an automatic payment upon diagnosis.”
5. Fingerprints will be the new credit cards
Over the next few years, the in-store and online shopping experience for consumers will completely change,” says Anders. “Expect Artificial Intelligence to take on job roles, cashier less stores to pop up, biometric payment to become the norm, with retailers allowing customers to scan the veins in their thumbs as payment and facial recognition technology as tills to offer discounts for smiling customers. In fact, we soon won’t even need to ‘pay’ at all. Customers will be able to choose items from stores and leave without handing over any details as shops will have all of your data stored to bill you digitally.”
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