Getting Ready (or Not) for Future Jobs, a Summer of Futuring, and Moves in the Field

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Volume 3,
Number 7
May 17, 2017

Hot Topic: Future Jobs—Or Not

The Pew Research Center has released the results of its survey of technologists, scholars, practitioners, strategic thinkers, and education leaders on the future of workplace training in the next decade. More than 1,400 participants responded to the survey, which Pew conducted with Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center in summer 2016.

In addition to addressing how disruptive technologies such as IT, AI, automation, and robotics may develop, Pew asked respondents to focus on the potential disruptions these technologies may have on capitalist systems and particularly on jobs.

While a narrow majority (52 percent) of the respondents said technological advances will create more jobs than they destroy, that doesn’t mean things will be easy for tomorrow’s human workers. For the 30 percent of respondents expressing pessimism about people’s prospects in a tech-dominated economy, a major concern is how people will meet their basic needs and the impacts of these needs on economic systems.

If, as Microsoft researcher Jonathan Grudin says, “People will create the jobs of the future, not simply train for them,” education and learning will need to adapt to new priorities. Human skills that will be required include creativity, collaboration, abstract thinking, complex communication, and social and emotional intelligence. But, Pew reports, about “a third of respondents expressed no confidence in training and education evolving quickly enough to match demands by 2026.”

Among the recommendations for adapting education and learning was to emulate the environments human learners already exist in, such as those of gaming and social media. Psychologist and futurist Dana Klisanin of Evolutionary Guidance Media R&D, wrote, “Educational institutions that succeed will use the tools of social media and game design to grant students’ access to teachers from all over the world and increase their motivation to succeed.… Online educational programs will influence the credentialing systems of traditional institutions, and online institutions will increasingly offer meet-ups and mingles such that a true hybrid educational approach emerges.”

The bottom line, according to AAI Foresight’s Timothy C. Mack, is that, “In the area of skill-building, the wild card is the degree to which machine learning begins to supplant social, creative and emotive skill sets.”

Read “The Future of Jobs and Jobs Training” by Lee Rainie and Janna Anderson, Pew Internet (May 3, 2017).

Europe’s Summer of Futuring

Futures-oriented groups across Europe are planning events in conjunction with the Antwerp Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibition “A Temporary Futures Institute” running through the end of September. Organized by Agence Future, the events include:

Humankind 2050, June 7-10, Jondal, Norway. The World Futures Studies Federation’s annual meeting, themed “Peace, Development, Environment,” seeks to “envision, design and work towards creating peaceful, ecological and equitable futures for humankind for the next fifty years and beyond.” The event also marks the 50th anniversary of the Mankind 2000 meeting in Oslo, which “put futures research on the global map” and led to WFSF’s formation. Details at the WFSF conference page.

Futures of a Complex World, June 12-13, Turku, Finland. Celebrating its 25th anniversary of academic research, the Finland Futures Research Centre at the University of Turku is holding its 18th international futures conference, organized in cooperation with the Finland Futures Academy, the National Foresight Network, Finland, and Foresight Europe Network. Among the keynote speakers will be John L. Casti of The X-Center. Details at the center’s conference page.

Design - Develop - Transform, June 15-17, Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium. Organized by the knowledge center Applied Futures Research-Open Time and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Antwerp, this event invites academic and professional futurists from around the world to look at how futures are designed, developed, and transformed. Teach the Future and the Association of Professional Futurists are co-creating content for this “unconference,” and Jim Dator, founder of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, will be the keynote speaker. APF will also conduct a professional development day workshop during the event. Details at the conference page.

Moves in the Field

James Dator is retiring as director of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies. He will be succeeded by Jarius Grove, who is on sabbatical until summer 2017.

Jamais Cascio was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona. “The technologies and tools we make are as much artifacts of our culture as artifacts of our science,” Cascio said. “What a technology means—its social utility, its ethical footprint, its role in our lives—increasingly matters as much or more than what a technology does.” Watch UAT’s commencement, featuring Cascio’s speech, online.

Maria H. Andersen is co-founder and CEO of Coursetune Inc. She was previously director of learning design at Western Governors University.

Marco Bevolo, PhD, is a member of the editorial board of the journal Research in Hospitality Management. He is also partner, foresight and design thinking, at Amati & Associates. He was previously research principal at Philips.

Michael Lissack is chair of Vistage Worldwide Inc.

Manjul Rathee is senior service designer at Shift — Product design for social change. She was previously service designer at Mind of My Own.

Recent Publications

“Always Tomorrow Now,” an interview with Luiz Alberto Oliveira (Museum of Tomorrow) by Stuart Candy, World Futures Review (March 2017). Opening in Rio de Janeiro in December 2015, Museu do Amanhã (the Museum of Tomorrow) received more than a million visitors in its first nine months. In this article, museum fellow Candy interviews curator Oliveira, exploring the “the story and thinking behind a cultural institution of foresight dedicated to questions rather than answers, experiences rather than artifacts, and multiple possible futures rather than an unalterable past.” See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at ResearchGate.

“Anybody out there? The Future of Tax” by Gitte Heij (Melbourne University Law School), Journal of Futures Studies (December 2016), 21(2): 35–50. This paper uses the Three Horizons model of analysis, exploration, and futures imagination to consider “possible futures for raising tax revenue in an environment of rapidly evolving technology, automation, globalization, the rising power of powerful interest groups, and the trend of increased accumulation of wealth in the hands of fewer taxpayers.”

Special Offer: Futuristic Education Archives

In celebration of his 80th birthday (May 11) Arthur Shostak, emeritus professor of sociology, Drexel University, is offering to share many of the educational items he has collected since learning about futuristics as an undergraduate in the 1950s.

The materials available include books, magazines, and academic articles “of continued value in the study of the probable, possible, preferable, and preventable future.” He only requests reimbursement for shipping costs. If interested, contact him at

In Memoriam

Robert William Taylor, 85, computer networking pioneer whose early work in the 1960s as director of the Information Processing Techniques Office at the Advanced Research Projects Agency is credited as a significant contribution to the development of the Internet. Read more in the New York Times.

Donald Kitchell Conover, 85, a former vice president of corporate education for AT&T who led the Corporate Education Center at Princeton. He was also a member of the World Future Society, among many professional and civic organizations. Read more in the Bucks County Courier Times.