Last week my grandson Raymund turned 5 years old, and it caused me to think about the kind of world he’ll be entering into.
The workforce of tomorrow will need to be resilient, flexible, resourceful, creative problem solvers, ethical, epithetical, situationally aware, perseverant, purpose-driven, relentless, and totally distraction-proof. Yes, somehow they need to be distraction-proof.
As I started writing down a list of future attributes, the last one – distraction-proof – has become a recurring theme in most of my thinking. Most of today’s children are the complete opposite of distraction-proof. In fact, I would go so far as to say they have a squirrel phobia. If they haven’t gotten distracted in the last 10 seconds they’ll start wondering if something is wrong.
Training someone to have extreme focus, with the ability to block out all bright shiny objects, is not only a tall order; it’s also a topic that virtually no one is teaching.
In my way of thinking, it’s ok to push future generations towards things we ourselves struggle with, because the demands of the future will be far more intense for them!
The future will require they be better at virtually everything – smarter, quick to adapt, high energy, work long hours, durable, and much more resilient when things go wrong. Yet we’ve been doing just the opposite, instilling a sense of frailty, trying to protect them from everything that can possibly go wrong. Keep in mind, a great captain is never made from calm seas.
How will today’s 5-year olds grow into their roles in the future?
29 ways life will be different for young people in 2040
In 2040 the life of today’s five-year olds will look far different than they do today:
- His best friend will be a virtual buddy that works as a sounding board, a mentor, and a keeper of his most intimate secrets.
- Virtually every object in his life will talk to him and he will think something is wrong when he runs into an item that doesn’t respond to his voice.
- At the same time, he will be surrounded with many broken and partially functioning gadgets. Technology is designed for a limited time of usefulness and most people will have shelves full of inoperative devices displayed as house ornaments and knickknacks.
- He will resent having clothing connected to the Internet and will only buy certified “tracker-free” clothing. Since his mom and dad tracked his whereabouts as a kid, he will harbor the same resentment towards having an employer or “big brother” looking over his shoulder.
- He will never own a car or a house.
- The majority of his food will fall into the category of being “super-processed” with most of his diet closely dialed-in to his metabolism and far healthier than anything today. But he will still go through junk food binges.
- Sensors in his clothing will generate a real-time analysis of all food that he consumes. For this reason, his dietary needs will be “foodcast” to all restaurants and fast food places he frequents. Even though he appears to order standard hamburgers, pizzas, and tacos, the food he receives will have been dietarily recalibrated to match his own unique diet.
- A common mantra among young people in 2040 is “there is no such thing as common knowledge.” Each person is living a hyper-individualized experience and in many instances, virtually no one else can relate to their upbringing. This is neither good nor bad, but speaks to the increasing divergence of the human experience.
- Virtually every aspect of his life will have been gamified on some level.
- For those adept at managing their incentive plans, every meeting, social interaction, and achievement will be rewarded with social credits that can be accumulated and used to purchase vacations and consumer goods.
- His education will also be incentivized by a gamified credentialing system that replaces old-fashioned college degrees. The traditional bachelors, masters, and PhD system has been replaced with over two-dozen accomplishment-based credentials that extend far beyond anything today.
- At the age of 25 he already has three key certifications, which allows him to land a number of good-paying gigs.
- The job market has largely transitioned into project-based gigs that he manages on his own. He has joined 4 different “gig teams” as a way of improving both the quality and consistency of gig-flow.
- In the employment world, virtually all of his achievements will have a gamified point system in the background to provide added incentives. Every completion gets added to an automated resume that chronicles as much of his life as he allows it to.
- Thumbing his nose at past generation’s debt and massively under-funded financial obligations on a national level, he has become a citizen of two virtual countries and is considering a third.
- With the first Mars colony now in place, going there has become a hot topic of conversation among his peers. Nearly everyone has toyed with the idea of what it’d be like to be one of the early colonizers.
- Many are also critical of how this colony will affect the Martian ecosystem, but most people his age are more interested in creating a new ecosystem than worrying about the existing one.
- Space tourism is now a fledgling industry, but the promoters are still struggling to find the “killer app” that will keep wealthy tourists coming back.
- He has developed a growing distrust of traditional banks and instead relies on his bank-tech wallet, a digital wallet he can access anywhere in the world.
- His currency of choice is a derivative of bitcoin, which exists outside of the control of traditional governments.
- As part of the super-fluid transportation age, he will have visited 20 countries by the age of 25, working various projects along the way. Every trip becomes a working trip, and every vacation, a working vacation.
- His healthcare is managed in real time through his health-tech app, virtually never meeting face-to-face with a doctor, instead doing his occasional doctor visits virtually.
- Much like today, music is very much a part of his life, but the music itself now speaks to the heart and soul of tomorrow’s thought leaders. More than ever, music has become a three-dimensional experience, instantly adjusting to the pace and moment-by-moment mood shifts of the listener.
- Traditional sports like baseball, football, hockey, soccer, and basketball have all experienced waning interest among young people as few can measure up to the excitement of video games.
- With new types of controllers, video games themselves have morphed into far more of an aerobic workout than the skilled button-pushing experience today. Video game tournaments with $1 million prizes and 100,000 attendees are common.
- In the sporting arena, gravity suits have become a growing source of entertainment. Sports like “gravity racing,” “gravity ball,” and “gravity competitions” now dominate the sporting world with most incorporating augmented displays to enhance the experience.
- Movies will be in-the-round with seating forming a circle around the 3D holographically projected action scenes. It will be common to go to the same movie multiple times since every seat gives a distinctly different perspective on how it is viewed.
- After many years of improvement, the holodeck has finally become a real entertainment option, even though it’s still crude. In another decade it will begin to live up to the true-to-life Star-Trekian dream.
- In a world where it has become increasingly common for 80-year olds to work side-by-side with 20-year olds, the notion of “changing the world” and “making a difference” has taken on a much more realistic tone.
The future is unfolding as a fountain of endless excitement, driven by infinite anticipation, set against a landscape of stunning possibilities, as we enter a world of boundless opportunities.
Whenever we dial-in our crystal ball to see into the future, it becomes an interesting exercise to decide which things change and which ones stay the same.
- At what age will young people start dating?
- Do they still get married, or has marriage itself gotten reinvented?
- With certifications becoming more valuable than college degrees, will young people still go to college?
- What will fashions look like in 2040?
- What kind of jobs will people have, and will it be full-time work of more of a series of parsed-together gigs?
- In a world where transportation has become very fluid, how will this affect people’s sense of community?
- What places will be on the list of “hot new cities” in 2040?
- Will people still retire, or will retirement have been completely reinvented?
Instilling in a child a sense of responsibility for protecting the environment is important, but far different than teaching them to find their true calling in life, or protecting their families, or being good managers of their life journey.
The future is ours to mold, fashion, and produce. But it starts today, not tomorrow!
The future doesn’t care about you unless you care about the future! If you don’t have time to plan for the future, what makes you think it will turn out the way you want?
Please take a moment and let me know your thoughts. There are far more aspects to the future than what I have touched on, so your ideas are a critical piece of this rapidly unfolding conversation about the world ahead.
Author of Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions Transforming Your Future