New technology will eradicate some jobs, change others, and create whole new categories of employment. Innovation causes a churn in the job market, and this time around the churn is particularly large—from cheap sensors (creating "an Internet of things") to 3-D printing (enabling more distributed manufacturing).
Sparks & Honey, a New York trend-spotting firm, has a wall in its office where staff can post imaginative next-generation jobs. Below are eight of them, with narration from CEO Terry Young (who previously appeared here talking about health care).
"Life-logging" will be a way of life, affecting how we record and remember what we do. Young sees a role for someone who can take the mass of life-logged material, and make stories out of it. That could be useful during our lives (for personal-brand purposes) but also in death. "Today, it happens only with important people. Andy Warhol has a foundation, and so on. We're imagining this is going to ladder down to other people who want to shape what their legacy means," Young says.
The concept of education as a four-year box-ticking exercise will be over. The future will be more diverse. People will plug in a year of education here and there, a month now and again, and un-schooling counselors will guide them the whole way. "We're seeing the evolution of the traditional counselor to someone who can hack your life together so it's unique," he says.
Machines will be connected, producing tons of data about their performance and surroundings. Communications technology that has been expensive in the past (like satellites) will be widely accessible. This will create opportunities for "armchair explorers" who will travel the world, checking on systems, buildings, and hard-to-reach places. We'll need people to break through the fog, and give us a clear picture.
Today when your handyman fixes something, he usually has to order a spare part from China. One day, he might print it right in your yard. Say you need to replace the pipe under your sink. Why wait for the whole thing to come in from out of the country, when it can be done there and then? We already have 3-D printed shower heads, after all.
From the gut to your mouth, the microbial world is a big focus of current research. Young sees a job for a "microbial balancer" who can keep you aligned with your bacteria: "They will understand how to read your genome, your gut, and your mouth bacteria and get you better balanced at a house, school, or individual level. They're the equivalent of the Feng Shui person who sets up your apartment."
Big companies want to be more like startups, seeing innovation as vital to future profits. Young says they'll want "corporate disorganizers" who can introduce a little "organized chaos." Young says: "The disruptor will be tapping into the new systems of the collaborative economy, creating greater fragmentation and a more distributed ecosystem."
The digital "overload" will become even more overwhelming. That will open the way for people who can help lead less data-centric lives, or at least find a better balance. In some cases, they will even organize digital rehabs. It's going to get that bad (actually, it already is).
With cities getting greener, we'll need "urban shepherds" to look after the new infrastructure. "You need someone who is going to take care of the urban beehives, who's going to make sure your composting is set up correctly, and who is going to know how to curate all the vertical gardens," Young says.
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