More wild cards

Following up on my recent discussion of wild cards — i.e., low-probability but high-impact developments in the future — here are five wild cards discussed in brief reports by Social Technologies LLC:

Recorded Lives: Lifelogging, the use of information technology to comprehensively record and archive a person’s experiences, could become a mainstream practice, due to declining hardware costs and rising consumer interest. Life recording would build on the trends witnessed in current blog, online photo album, and video journal Web sites. (Brief GL-2007-50) Additional research here and here.

Bye-Bye Bees: Colony collapse disorder (CCD) — the disappearance of honeybees from commercial hives — is alarming but probably temporary, most experts say. But what if CCD isn’t temporary? The long-term loss of honeybees could be calamitous for agriculture and the downstream businesses that depend on it. (Brief GL-2007-43)

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2020 foresight: New jobs

Futurists at Social Technologies LLC see the following new jobs on the horizon for the year 2020:

  • Realizer: Creates real versions of virtual objects for people, from grog tankards to sports cars.
  • E-scrubber: Works to undo or minimize the indiscretions that people accumulate on the Web.
  • Unrealtor: Creates virtual tourism, adventure and retail destinations.
  • Nano-decontaminator: Cleans up nanomaterials now being spread through the environment.
  • Deceptionist: Provides tech-enabled deception services for those wishing to disguise their activities.
  • Genetic dietician: Creates diets tailored to people’s individual genetic makeup.
  • Geoscaper: Makes corporate and private properties look attractive in Google Earth-style aerial views.
  • Unplugger: Counselor (or mental health professional) who helps wean people from excessive technology use.
  • Eye pilot: Operates small, remotely piloted, camera-equipped aerial vehicles over war zones, disasters and other locations of interest on behalf of news services, nongovernmental organizations and private companies.

But a colleague of mine noted that very few people will want to be known as a “deceptionist.” It’s a hard thing to want to put on your IRS tax return or tell your kids.