Thursday, March 22, 2018

The crystal ball is all fogged up!

Take a second to think about when iPhones were sold for the first time to the masses.

You done thinking?  You have the answer?

Now think about when Twitter and Facebook (for the masses, beyond the .edu world) were launched.

Don't they all feel like they happened eons ago?

The iPhone dates back to June 2007.  Both Twitter and Facebook are from 2006.

Now, if you think about all the things that have happened over these ten years--from Uber to WhatsApp to Alexa to WhateverTheNewShitIs--if you are like me, you will be shocked at the transformation that has happened in a mere decade.  I am willing to put my money down that at no other point in history have societies undergone such dramatic overhaul in such a short period.

Keep in mind that it is not merely the gadgets and the leisure.  Right?  Think CRISPR, for instance. 3D-printing. Drones. It is an endless list, which seems to grow by the minute second.

So, now, if I ask you to predict what the next ten years will bring, if you are like me, then you would be honest and admit that you have no fucking clue!  It is all unknown.

Now, think about a ten-year old kid. In a little more than a decade from now, that kid will join the labor force.  How would you prepare that kid for the future that is all unknown?

And then think about the infant that was born today.  In slightly more than twenty years from now, this kid will join the labor force.  How should the infant's parents plan for this kid's future?

And, finally, when was the last time you heard political leaders lay such scenarios out for voters, so that we can all collectively and responsibly plan for the future?  Oh yeah, one leader did and she was not elected; instead, the lying son-of-a-bitch was favored by an electoral college majority!

All I can do is refer people to my blog, and say that I have done my job.  My conscience is clear.  I have even routinely warned students about these trends, much to their displeasure that also leads to unfavorable reviews!  And, I will continue to tell them about these trends if they engage with me.

One of my go-to futurists, Yuval Noah Harari, asks what will our future look like--not in a century but in a mere two decades.
Humans, he warned, “have created such a complicated world that we’re no longer able to make sense of what is happening.”
Exactly!  Harari is too polite, and was also in a public forum, to use the phrase that I use: No fucking clue!
It took centuries, even thousands of years, for us to reap the rewards of decisions made by our forebears, for example, growing wheat that led to the agricultural revolution. Not anymore. “Time is accelerating,” Mr. Harari said.
The long term may no longer be defined in centuries or millenniums — but in terms of 20 years. “It’s the first time in history when we’ll have no idea how human society will be like in a couple of decades,” he said.
“We’re in an unprecedented situation in history in the sense that nobody knows what the basics about how the world will look like in 20 or 30 years. Not just the basics of geopolitics but what the job market would look like, what kind of skills people will need, what family structures will look like, what gender relations will look like. This means that for the first time in history we have no idea what to teach in schools.”
Nobody listened to me when I said such things, nor will they ever listen to me.  I hope at least Harari will reach quite a few, especially among the 63 million voters!

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