Archive for August 2009

Futurescape #5

August 12, 2009
 

 

 
Jobs That Don’t Yet Exist
 
 
1.         Body Part Maker
Due to the huge advances being made in bio-tissues, robotics and plastics, the creation of body parts – from organs to limbs – will soon be possible, requiring body part makers, body part stores and body part repair shops.
 
2.        Nano-Medic  
Advances in nanotechnology offer the potential for a range of sub-atomic ‘nanoscale’ devices, inserts and procedures that could transform personal healthcare. A new range of nano-medicine specialists will be required to administer these treatments.
 
 3.        Pharmer of Genetically Engineered Crops and Livestock  
 New-age farmers will raise crops and livestock that have been genetically engineered to improve yields and produce therapeutic proteins. Works in progress include a vaccine-carrying tomato and therapeutic milk from cows, sheep and goats.
 
 4.        Old Age Wellness Manager / Consultant Specialists  
Drawing on a range of medical, pharmaceutical, prosthetic, psychiatric, natural and fitness solutions to help manage the various health and personal needs of the aging population.
  
5.        Memory Augmentation Surgeon
 Surgeons that add extra memory to people who want to increase their memory capacity and to help those who have been over exposed to information in the course of their life and simply can no longer take on any more information – thus leading to sensory shutdown.
  
6.        ‘New Science’ Ethicist  
 As scientific advances accelerate in new and emerging fields such as cloning, proteomics and nanotechnology, a new breed of ethicist may be required. These science ethicists will need to understand a range of underlying scientific fields and help society make consistent choices about what developments to allow. Much of science will not be a question of can we, but should we.
  
7.        Space Pilots, Architects and Tour Guides  
 With Virgin Galactic and others pioneering space tourism, space trained pilots and tour guides will be needed, as well as designers to enable the habitation of space and the planets. Current projects at SICSA (University of Houston) include a greenhouse on Mars, lunar outposts and space exploration vehicles.
 
8.        Vertical Farmers  
 There is growing interest in the concept of city based vertical farms, with hydroponically-fed food being grown in multi-storey buildings. These offer the potential to dramatically increase farm yield and reduce environmental degradation. The managers of such entities will require expertise in a range of scientific disciplines, engineering and commerce. 
 
9.        Climate Change Reversal Specialist   
As the threats and impacts of climate change increase, a new breed of engineer-scientists will be required to help reduce or reverse the effects of climate change on particular locations. They will need to apply multi-disciplinary solutions ranging from filling the oceans with iron filings to erecting giant umbrellas that deflect the sun’s rays.
 
10.    Quarantine Enforcer  
 If a deadly virus starts spreading rapidly, few countries, and few people, will be prepared. Nurses will be in short supply. Moreover, as mortality rates rise, and neighborhoods are shut down, someone will have to guard the gates.
  
11.    Weather Modification Police
 The act of stealing clouds to create rain is already happening in some parts of the world, and is altering weather patterns thousands of miles away. Weather modification police will need to control and monitor who is allowed to shoot rockets containing silver iodine into the air – a way to provoke rainfall from passing clouds.
 
12.    Virtual Lawyer
 As more and more of our daily life goes online, specialists will be required to resolve legal disputes which could involve citizens resident in different legal jurisdictions.
 
13.    Avatar Manager / Devotees – Virtual Teachers  
 Avatars could be used to support or even replace teachers in the elementary classroom, i.e., computer personas that serve as personal interactive guides. The Devotee is the human that makes sure that the Avatar and the student are properly matched and engaged.
 
14.    Alternative Vehicle Developers
Designers and builders of the next generations of vehicle transport using alternative materials and fuels. Could the dream of underwater and flying cars become a reality within the next two decades?
 
15.    Narrowcasters
 As the broadcasting media become increasingly personalized, roles will emerge for specialists working with content providers and advertisers to create content tailored to individual needs. While mass market customisation solutions may be automated, premium rate narrow casting could be performed by humans.
 
16.    Waste Data Handler
 Specialists providing a secure data disposal service for those who do not want to be tracked, electronically or otherwise.
 
17.    Virtual Clutter Organizer
 Specialists will help us organise our electronic lives. Clutter management would include effective handling of email, ensuring orderly storage of data, management of electronic ID’s and rationalizing the applications we use.
 
18.    Time Broker / Time Bank Trader
 Alternative currencies will evolve their own markets – for example time banking already exists.
 
19.    Social ‘Networking’ Worker
 Social workers for those in some way traumatized or marginalized by social networking.
 
20.    Personal Branders
 An extension of the role played by stylists, publicists and executive coaches –advising on how to create a personal ‘brand’ using social and other media. What personality are you projecting via your Blog, Twitter, etc? What personal values do you want to build into your image – and is your image consistent with your real life persona and your goals?
 
 
Please share your thoughts on these jobs by taking the survey at
www.zoomerang.com/Survey/?p=WEB229HP2J3ALX

 

Key Trends and Challenges for the Next two Years
 
A lot of people have been asking us what we think are the critical trends, issues and developments that will influence our thinking over the next two years. While we have our views, we are also very conscious that these issues will differ significantly depending our personal outlook, sector, where we are in world, our stage of life and individual circumstances. So we’d like to hear your views – what do you think are the issues and developments that could have the greatest bearing on your thinking and behaviour over the next two years?
 
We will compile all the responses and share them in one of the September FutureScapes. Here are five ideas to get you started.
 
1. Embracing Complexity
The finance crisis has helped us understand that our world is increasingly made up of highly complex interconnected and adaptive systems whose behaviour is difficult to model or predict. Governments and businesses will increasingly start to embrace complexity thinking to help understand and plan for the world we now operate in. The real breakthrough will come when we start to teach our children about complexity and how to make decisions in an uncertain world with imperfect information.
 
2. Facing up to Ageing
In the developed economies, lifespan estimates are increasing by up to five months every year and there is up to a 90% chance that those under 50 will live to 100. These patterns will be emulated for citizens in the developing economies as their incomes, lifestyles and health outlook improve. At the same time we know our pension systems cannot cope – they were not designed for people lasting 15 years past retirement let alone 35. In addition, with population decline in many developed economies, we know that the ratio of workers to retirees is shrinking – reducing the pool of pension funds available to serve a rising level of demand.
 
Governments, businesses, the media, society and the pensions industry all have to accept that this is a crisis of our own making – it is not something that’s happened overnight. We have had warnings about an impending pensions crisis for over 20 years and have chosen to do little about it. Over the next two years we think the debate will move beyond the current search for blame as people begin to realise that their pension funds won’t be able to cope. We will all be forced to think about how we can fund ourselves for a 100 year lifespan. This might mean working well into our 70’s, looking at alternative financing and investment models, changing our lifestyles to reduce our spending, ensuring that we will be healthy enough to keep working and keeping our skills and capabilities relevant.
 
3. Accelerating Innovation
One of the most interesting responses to the downturn has been the rising focus on innovation. This has ranged from a wave of new product launches to radical rethinks of entire business models and operating systems. However, a lot of larger businesses have found their internal processes a barrier when it comes to turning ideas into reality. We think the focus of innovation initiatives will increasingly focus on streamlining decision making to allow more rapid testing of new ideas.
 
4. Dealing with Debt
The current– potentially temporary – respite in the financial crisis is allowing governments to take stock of the impact of rescue packages on public finances. We know that in 2010 the debt of the richer members of the G20 is expected to rise close to 100% of GDP.  Tough choices will be required on how to service the interest payments and bring down the size of the debt burden. Policy options are limited and potentially unpopular. Cuts in public spending, reducing public sector workforces, higher taxes and encouraging inflation are the most likely instruments. These will  have a dampening effect on the economy and slow the pace of recovery. It will be interesting to see the choices made by different nations.
 
5. Sustainability 2.0
While we expect a continued focus on environmental sustainability, we also think there will be a lot more debate about the long term sustainability of our governance and business models. What are the right set of processes, voter engagement mechanisms, funding approaches and controls required to manage a country in the 21st century? Is globalisation the right growth model for large corporations, what is an acceptable level of growth to target and what business and financing models should underpin these choices?
 
What do you think – please share your thoughts on what you think the key issues, trends and challenges will be for you over the next two years.
 
 
About Fast Future
Fast Future is a research and consulting firm which focuses on helping clients anticipate and develop innovative responses to the forces, patterns of change and ideas shaping the future. To book Rohit for a speech or workshop, or to discuss your research and consulting needs please contact rohit@fastfuture.com or call +44 (0)20 8830 0766 
 
Forthcoming Dates for your Diary
This is a selection of ‘future focused’ events that we think could be of interest. Those marked with an R are the ones where Rohit is speaking and / or chairing the event. 

August 13th – London Networking Forum, 5.30pm Victoria. Admission free. Contact alan.mackelworth@amacltd.co.uk to book places 
 
September 3rd – 1st European Impact Angel Investing Summit, Geneva, Cost 100 Euros (members), 300 Euros (non-members) http://www.go-beyond.biz
 
September 14th- 15th (R), Driving Sustainability – The Future of Sustainable Transport Technology, Reykjavik Iceland. Cost – 69,000 Icelandic Krone (US$550)  
 
September 22nd – 25th (R), The World Youth and Student Travel Conference, Manchester England. http://www.wystc.org 
 
October 14th-16th (R), Visioning 20.20 – Escaping the Age of Stupid, 5th European Futurists Conference, Lucerne, Switzerland. Cost €1040 – 20% early bird discount for bookings before August 15th
 
October 21st -24th, Poptech 09 – America Reimagined, Camden Maine, USA. Cost US$3,500 
 
November 5th– 6th (R), Courage! – 7th Annual European Food Service Network CEO Conference, Cologne, Germany.  

September 18th – 20th (R), Get Inspired – International Association of Facilitators European Conference, Oxford, England. Cost – IAF Members £592.25 / Non Members £649.75 

The Bulletin, issue no.4

August 10, 2009

By Ian Perason and Rohit Talwar, August 2009.

Future Security Issues

As we look beyond the current downturn, we believe that security is going to raise its head as a multi-dimensional issue for nations, organizations and individuals. Over the next few editions of the bulletin we will explore a number of critical aspects of these future security threats.   In this issue, we start by focusing on two increasingly important and somewhat overlooked dimensions of the security challenges associated with information and communications technology – policy and hardware threats. These will have impacts at every level in society from securing personal information through to protection of the data that is the lifeblood of national economies and critical infrastructure.

Policy-based threats Perhaps counter-intuitively, we believe that overzealous organisational security policies could be an ever-increasing and potentially serious source of risks and threats in their own right. Human nature drives employees to attempt to bypass procedures that get in the way of doing their job. If they want to access something forbidden by a security policy, they are likely to step outside of the secured domain by using their own equipment, or by being devious. In the extremes, staff can end up doing a lot of their work on their own equipment rather than use that provided by the organisation. For example, we recently met the marketing department of a major global consumer products company which is not allowed to download the many daily attachments sent to them by their various agencies. Productivity and efficiency is seriously hindered as staff have to download the documents on their personal emails at home and then ask the IT department to load them onto the network for their colleagues to review. It can take 48-72 hours before the marketing team can all have access to a key document.    As a result of these everyday workarounds, employees’ work may be conducted substantially outside the influence of any security controls that exists.

A wiser approach is to work with the employees to understand the nature of their work and interactions with the outside world. This allows us to establish a cooperative policy that staff will adhere to willingly – instead of trying to impose one that they are likely to be tempted or compelled to ignore or bypass.   Additionally, if a policy is too tight, but staff are nevertheless forced to follow it by some means, it might have the result of reducing performance and productivity. If it is too hard to do the job, it will take longer or not happen at all. This is obviously a threat to the wellbeing of the organisation, making it unproductive, uncompetitive and possibly threatening its existence. A policy designed to protect a company should clearly not threaten the ability of the company to function efficiently by impeding the ability of staff to do their jobs well.   A more sensible security policy is one that provides strong protection for key intellectual property and essential systems, but is more flexible in other areas. Staff should be trusted to do their jobs responsibly, with good management and if necessary, disciplinary procedures to encourage compliance with ‘common sense’ and good business practice. Given greater freedom and clearly sensible boundaries, most employees respond with responsible behaviour.  

 Hardware based threats Concern is beginning to increase because most virus protection applications only check for software based viruses. However, it is possible to build increasingly dangerous hardware based attacks, using what are known as ‘field programmable gate arrays’ (FPGAs) to build custom hardware that interface directly with other equipment and bypasses software virus security checks. Although this is seen as a relatively new phenomenon, it is likely to grow as a problem, driven by improvements in design tools and the increasing availability of powerful, yet small devices.  

Another hardware threat arises from the deliberate introduction of malicious algorithms into the hardware during the design or manufacturing processes. It is quite possible to design hardware that achieves all its legitimate requirements but which also has hidden circuitry that only comes into play when a particular instruction is received or a specific set of circumstances arises. These viruses can go undetected because hardware testing can only make a finite number of tests while there are an infinite number of ways in which these ‘back door’ viruses can be added invisibly into circuit designs. To make the problem even more difficult to address, circuits that appear to be quite innocent might also be part of a larger malicious circuit or algorithm that is only triggered when other devices or software applications are brought into play. Such jigsaw approaches can be impossible to test for. These ‘sleeper circuits’ could already be waiting in millions of machines, only coming into play when the final piece of the jigsaw is introduced via accessing a superficially benign web site or an otherwise innocent-looking email.  

 The next hardware based threat to consider is that posed by personal data storage devices. Memory sticks are improving rapidly in capacity. Although at home, people may have large volume of music or video files that would not fit on today’s memory sticks, they are able to store all the files a typical employee uses in everyday office work. They present an obvious and direct security threat if employees use them to store confidential data, since they are easily lost, forgotten, or left in someone else’s USB port. They are also a good vehicle for viruses to cross between machines, though most virus management software attempts to protect against such problems. Some large companies prevent their computers from accepting memory stick connection because of this, but they are also disadvantaged because they lose all the benefits that memory sticks bring. This is a good example of a trade-off between work flexibility and risk management. As memory sticks continue their increasing penetration into every area of our lives, it will become necessary to have security polices that accept this use and work around it.  

Miniaturisation is the next and growing area of concern. Ongoing technology advances are making it increasingly possible to do very sophisticated things with tiny gadgets. Putting a microscopic surveillance device into a piece of office equipment might allow signals to be intercepted and recorded during printing or scanning tasks. Then could they sit quietly until their owner removes them for subsequent downloading. Such miniaturisation will make corporate espionage easier. In fact, as devices get smaller and smaller, there will come a time where ‘smart dust’ (nanoscale electronic sensors and computing devices) becomes so tiny that individual devices could be too small to be seen by the naked eye, making it almost impossible to detect them. Since such devices could be largely passive, and only respond to particular types of signal, they might be hard to detect even electronically.  

Finally, every year, new devices will appear that add to the range of potential gadget-based threats. We are only a few years away from being able to incorporate almost any kind of IT function into small pieces of jewellery. For example, by 2015, it is likely that a small electronic lapel pin will be able to act as a personal wireless web site/blog/ego badge. These devices will broadcast information about their owner into the nearby space and interact with badges worn by other people for social or business networking purposes. It might simultaneously act as a phone, processor, tracker, security badge, music player, video camera and perhaps many other things too. Size and shape will be no constraint on function in the future. Staff will not expect to have to leave personal devices like this behind when they go to work. So companies will have to build security systems that can cope with very high levels of personal electronic functionality, with all the potential for malicious presence on those devices.  

Futurescape #4

August 7, 2009

 

August 7th 2009 

 

Jobs that don’t yet exist
We are undertaking a very short cycle project on the kinds of jobs that will be created in 10-20 years’ time through advances in science and technology. Based on our initial research we’ve identified and defined ten new job roles that could become reality within 10-20 years time.  
Now it’s your turn! Please let us have your suggestions and descriptions of the kinds of new jobs that you think could emerge over the next 10-20 years as a result of advances in science and technology.  Our timescales are very tight (the project was only approved this afternoon) and so we’d need your feedback by the end of Monday 9th August. If you have any suggestions please reply to this email.

 

To help stimulate your thinking we’ve also included a list of 20 additional titles of jobs that don’t yet exist. Once we have your feedback we will then compile a longer list and ask you to vote on your favourites. Please do take a few minutes to share your thoughts.
1.            Personal Entertainment Programmer (1)
Designers of in-person or electronic activities that will meet the need for individualised services.
 
2.    Genomics Developer / Architect / Baby Designer (2)
With the unravelling of the human genome, new roles could emerge to design personalised enhancements and select the genetic make-up of your unborn child. 
 
3.    Resource Use Consultant
As environmental awareness rises, roles could emerge for advisors who help individual citizens grade the impact of every action / purchase / item and manage down the ecological footprint of our lifestyles and purchases. 
 
4.    Personal Enhancement Advisors
Advances in new materials and nanotechnology, cognitive science, natural therapies and pharmaceuticals will offer an increasingly broad range of legal (and illegal) personal enhancements. These could be used to give sports people a competitive edge, enhance our memory capacity when studying for exams or increase the strength and endurance of soldiers in the field. Roles could emerge professionals who take a holistic approach advising across a full range of possible enhancements. 
 
5.     Psycho-Customiser 
Future generations of mobile phones could offer a range of applications to help monitor and manage stress levels and counsel us on key decisions.  Tomorrow’s retail assistant could perform behavioural assessments to help customise our devises to match our personality type.
 
6.    Nano-Medic (2)
Advances in nanotechnology offer the potential for a range of sub-atomic ‘nanoscale’ devices, inserts and procedures that could transform personal healthcare. A new range of nano medicine specialists will be required to administer these treatments.
 
7.    Vertical Farmers
There is growing interest in the concept of city based vertical farms, with hydroponically-fed food being grown in multi-storey buildings. These offer the potential to dramatically increase farm yield and reduce environmental degradation. The managers of such entities will require expertise in a range of scientific disciplines, engineering and commerce. 
 
8.    Spaceline Pilots (1) 
With Virgin Galactic and others pioneering space tourism the need for space trained pilots will arise.
 
9.    Climate Change Reversal Specialist
As the threats and impacts of climate change increase, a new breed of engineer-scientists will be required to help reduce or reverse the effects of climate change on particular locations. They will need to apply multi-disciplinary solutions ranging from filling the oceans with iron filings to erecting giant umbrellas that deflect the sun’s rays. 

10.
  Hydrogen Fuel Station Manager (3)  
A Ford Motor Company study found that Hydrogen could be cost-competitive with gasoline if refuelling stations were mass-produced. The hydrogen would be produced on-site, so managers would need an entirely different set of skills than those required in today’s gas stations. 
 
 
In addition to the jobs described above, we have also identified a further 20 interesting possibilities:
 
1.            Professional VR Citizen
2.            Second Life Lawyer
3.            Human to Machine Download Controller
4.            Machine Linguist
5.            Complexity Manager / Gaiantologist
6.            Robot Mechanic
7.            Chief Health Officer
8.            Telemedicine Technician
9.            Pharmer of Genetically Engineered Crops and Livestock
10.         Spaceport Designer
11.         Space Tour Guide
12.         Terraformer of the Moon and Other Planets
13.         In-Company Gene Screener
14.         Drowned City Specialist
15.         Quarantine Enforcer
16.         Biorefinery Operative
17.         Holographer
18.         Virtual Reality Actor
19.         Narrowcaster
20.         Dirigible Pilot 

References:1) Joyce L Gioia ’21st Century Career Planning’ published by WFS in ‘The Futurist’ Magazine www.wfs.org
 2) ‘Leona’s Blog’ (suggested by Kay E. Strong) http://systems.tinuum.net/?p=211#comments

 

What future jobs would you add to this list? We look forward to receiving your feedback, and contributions. 

About Fast FutureFast Future is a research and consulting firm which focuses on helping clients anticipate and develop innovative responses to the forces, patterns of change and ideas shaping the future. To book Rohit for a speech or workshop, or to discuss your research and consulting needs please contact rohit@fastfuture.com or call +44 (0)20 8830 0766 

 Forthcoming Dates for your Diary

This is a selection of ‘future focused’ events that we think could be of interest. Those marked with an R are the ones where Rohit is speaking and / or chairing the event.  

September 14th- 15th (R), 
Driving Sustainability –  The Future of Sustainable Transport Technology, Reykjavik Iceland. Cost – 69,000 Icleandic Krone (US$550) 
 
September 18th – 20th (R), Get Inspired – International Association of Facilitators European Conference, Oxford, England. Cost – IAF Members £592.25 / Non Members £649.75  

October 14th-16th (R), Visioning 20.20 – Escaping the Age of Stupid, 5th European Futurists Conference, Lucerne, Switzerland. Cost €1040 – 20% early bird discount for bookings before July 31st

 

October 21st -24th, Poptech 09 – America Reimagined, Camden Maine, USA. Cost US$3,500 

 November 5th– 6th (R), Courage! – 7th Annual European Food Service Network CEO Conference, Cologne, Germany.