The Educator’s Dilemna

Future jobs are likely to pair computer intelligence with creative skills.  Things have changed in the essential skills needed by future employers and society.  The dilemma for educators is now that routine cognitive skills – skills that are easiest to teach and easiest to test (the skills which have been traditionally taught for 19th and 20th Century  careers)– are also exactly the kind of skills that are easiest to digitise, automate and outsource.  * Andreas Schlecher OECD/PISA Programme

Retooling the historical educational curriculum will be an uphill battle. Society resists change but, ironically, readily adopts technological innovation.  The lag between development and adoption of new and very different skills sets  and the  timely necessity of society to become trained and available as a relevant new workforce, will strain educational systems, and leave much of the population ill-equipped to qualify for newly evolving careers.  New academic models, retooling curriculum, and a reassessment of the whole idea of what being educated means, will strain the capacity of educators and academic institutions,  breaking some and driving others to experiment. And out of this disruption will eventually evolve new curricular models designed to constantly adapt to keep up with the exponential  changes driven by technologies and societies metamorphosis.

The near future will see a wrenching, dynamic debate and significant disruption in the form and substance of “education”.  It will take a broad social vision and then the shared sense of common purpose to engender the energy and political will to create this change.  To resist this change, to not recognize the imperative to move thoughtfully but also quickly,  threatens the balance  and stability of the economic, social and political  order of America and its foundational democratic vision and its leadership in the World.

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Future Work/Careers – 1.1

Sorry, I should have left you with some tasters of the sort of work that might be out there in the future. Actually, a few already exist and will continue to exist even as many existing today will disappear. Here are only a few:

Health Coach


Clone Ranchers

Memory Augmentation Therapists

Artificial Intelligence Programmer

Robot Counselor

Makeshift Structure Engineer

Auto-Transport Analyst

Robocar Traffic Controller

Urban Farmer

Ecosystem Auditor


Robotic Earthworm Drivers

Mining Resource Specialist

Carbon Capture Technician

Earthquake Forecasters

Computer Forensics Analyst

Media Remixer

Integrated Digital Media Specialist

Augmented Reality Journey Builder

Cyber City Analyst

Personal Data Broker


There are 100’s of possible new careers that coming change will create, many of which will then fade as others rapidly, are newly created to meet demand. Developing new skills and lifelong learning will be inevitable for anyone who wants to continue to work and have a viable and productive life.  Expect to have 20 or more careers or modifications of careers in your next 20-50 years of work. Change and Gig are the by-words.

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Future Work/Careers series – 2

This is the second blog entry in this theme of Future Work/Careers:

There are social, economic, environmental and technological forces around the world that are building and intersecting at this moment in time that will magnify complexity of the human experience and will drive enormous change in ways foreseeable and in ways still beyond our ability to foreseen but  can only speculate will occur. And there are changes ahead that are and will be unexpected, unthought of and never before seen,  that will proffer remarkable benefits and devastating harm to mankind and the Earth.  The next several generations will have to “fly by the seat of their pants” to manage this profound blast of change.  Those decisions will ramify through the societies of the World for generations.

The forces I see are compressed into 9,  though a case can easily be  made that there are more, or there are less. In all cases however, each force doesn’t stand alone but impacts the others, creating further dynamic change. 

I will be writing about these forces:

  1. Rapid Global Population Growth/Particularly in Developing Nations/Regions
  2. Rapid Expansion of Globalization
  3. Dramatic Climate Change
  4. Rapidly Changing Employment Demands
  5. Increasing Demands on Energy Production
  6. Corrosive Environmental Degradation
  7. Exponential Technology Change and the Digital Interconnectedness of  the World
  8. Rapid Urban Population Growth
  9. The Creation of New Forms of Wealth and Deepening Disparity Between Haves and Have-nots

and how they will force humans to modify their lives and potentially alter their place of singular dominance.

and so……….

Rapid change across a vast field of global, regional, national and local communities  is clearly impeding. It is certainly inevitable, that this change will impel each successive generation to learn to adapt in ways far different than ever before.

What is this change? 

(Below is a very long sentence, and most likely grammatically incorrect. Sorry! Try to hang in there to its end)

It is the complex and singular compression at this time in history of: rapid global population growth; increasing competing demands and access to basic and advanced natural and mineral resources; the increasing instability of global and national economies that struggle  to adopt new forms of economic development and wealth creation (compounded by a widening disparity of between the  “haves and have-nots”; all magnified by the driving, compounded exponential adoption of powerful technologies that with increasing rapidity  interlink the people and machines of the world with wonderful opportunities and unforeseen infringements; the corporatization of big data information flowing out of that Internet of Things we all are participating in, that is: via the monitoring of our cell phone use patterns, our nascent but effective AI “Alexa’s” learning machines,  each website click, on-line posting, U-Tube and Facebook viewing and the incorporation of the billions of digital sensors being incorporated into every aspect of today’s human behavior and actions.  

These and more “new” human action and circumstance, all happening at an ever increasing rate, overwhelms humans’ ability to comprehend their effects in the near and distant future.  Twitter is an apt model of a technology with both benefit and unforeseen harm which has left humans in a quandary as to how to manage it. Twitter was simply conceived as a communications tool to express ideas and opinions. Who would have thought it would  become interwoven in revolutionary movements and political behavior, or offer individuals from the opposite ends of the Earth access to ideas of creative novelty and means of  connected networking.

Our successful ability to  anticipate, manage, and adapt to the changes unfolding because of these forces will be the hallmark of humanities capacity to succeed as a specie. There is no guarantee that we will. What is essential however to this outcome with be the quality and appropriate form of education and skills that children will apply.  

And so the crux of this blog is framed around the necessity to create new forms of learning those skills and knowledge; in ways far different that exists in traditional educational curriculum. Skills to manage this new world  take years to acquire and practice. The creation of this new curriculum is long overdue. 


Subsequent blog essays will dig into this new learning and its applications to successfully confronting change and adapting for future generations. And it will address the individual forces as they unfold and impact human behavior and civilization.


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The Future of Work/Careers and Social Purpose 2018-2050

I haven’t written this blog for quite a long time.  I have been struggling with finding a focus that has meaning to me and merit to others. Much of my work in the past has been focussed on a general conversation about what the unfolding forces in the new future will increasing add pressure on the next several generations.  My focus has shifted, to a broader multi-generation frame.

Having 3 very young grandchildren who will inherit this Earth we leave them is what has shifted my engine of purpose. And that is: What talents, skills, strengths, attitudes, perspectives, reflections and sense of shared destiny will be necessary for them breath into their beings

to have a chance to live in their future World with the same opportunities, hopes and expectations we had; that of continuing to live in a civil society,  founded on the liberal classical American democratic model embraced by the Founders – a model underpinned by a commitment to equality for all and respect for human dignity and human rights; our children will need to re-establish the balance in civil and political discourse and commit to compromise in governance; they will need to tamp down the gross aspects of human greed and perverse drive for power – to the harm of the vast majority of the World’s human and non-human populations; and they will need to rediscover the essential humanity embedded in the human species, by knowing in their bones that always seeking common ground of purpose and beliefs is not only possible but absolutely essential for survival.  We  live on one Earth, it is our home and our lifeboat – and that it is just fragile enough to ecologically fracture.

It has become an existential moment for humans and our children and grandchildren are inheriting this from us. 

One last comment on this blog entry:

I find that we the baby-boomers were going to save the World from the horror and damage our parent’s created, exquisitely ironic. Listen to our songs; Dylan, CSNY, Hendrix, Baez, the list is long. We committed to peace, to shared purpose, to a clean and human environment, to respect for each other and the essential goodness of humanity.  We are leaving with confusion, deep social fractures, global pollution, the denigration and abandonment of vast populations of hopeless people, and an economic and social burden which is profoundly destructive to the very people we say we love and care for: our children and grandchildren. 

What sloppy, thoughtless, narcissistic adolescents we were then and still remain.

A lousy job!  And a mess for others to clean up!

* Other blog entries will follow in a series of  discussions of the forces that are presently and increasingly will pressure the human cultures and societies to scramble to manage; Forces that are creating the new World of challenge and opportunity. There is hope but it will require a new way of thinking and managing our lives.


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Preparing for the Future? Students/Schools

Secondary and college students are faced with a daunting future of rapid change, technological unknowns and shifting opportunities – changes which the academic world is unprepared to address in any meaningful way.

Inertia and the standard human response within such bureaucratic structures is timidity and misdirected mission. Without a shared vision of what changes are necessary for today’s curriculum as well as adapting the academic culture, the present generation of students will not be fortified for success in the near as well a distant future.

These are skills that are learned over time, as human cognitive development naturally occurs. There is no silver bullet, no easy fix.

Much is spoken about building the essential skills of resilience, communication, collaboration and adaptability, and creative thinking (especially by corporate leaders) but there is very little substance and limited consistency structured into the standard academic experience of students – to build those crucial capabilities. This requires shared vision, courage and extraordinary leadership.

Doing the same old thing just isn’t acceptable; it is rather, irresponsible!

With the exponential integration of robotic technology, artificial intelligence and learning machines into the everyday existence of virtually all humans, developing and refining those uniquely human skills that can not be supplanted by machines will make the difference for each individual between “success” or at the other pole, a deep sense of loss of purpose, social place and financial viability.

It is inevitable that these changes are coming! They are already here and coming at us all at an increasingly rapid rate, remixing and morphing. To resist the change is ultimately futile, as it was for the Luddites in the early 19th Century reaction to the Industrial Revolution.

If you use a smartphone, the internet, any aspect of the Internet of Things (IoT), Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, an AI personal assistant, etc. you are already embracing that change. 

The response to these changes rather should be “how to manage change”; That is, not blindly accepting all technological change as a good thing but rather take time to  reflect on the impacts each of those changes as they evolve could have on social fabric and structure, on socio-economic balance, and on the democratic processes we hold dear, with an eye on what applications benefit the greatest number in society, not just the few.

It will be essential for each individual to constantly adapt, embrace life-long learning, and look to the future as much as to the present in order to anticipate the various paths toward a fulfilled life.

Schools by their very nature are foundational environments where for at least 12 years of schooling, practice and cognitive training can make a fundamental difference in the direction of future successive generations and ultimately in the framing of humanity’s direction.

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Transitions and the Future – Our Children

I wanted to re-post this blog essay originally posted 2 years ago. It is still relevant today. 

The Transition is the development passage of each  individual from “childhood” to  adulthood  with all of its responsibilities and expectations.

The transition by our children to the self-agency and the independence of the “adult” needs to be developed even more broadly in light of the impacts of and reactionary tendency being so violently expressed to the apparent effects of globalization. That the world and its communities are becoming more intertwined and interdependent is obvious and inevitable. To teach our children to be exclusive, myopic, complaisant in their entitled “worlds”, and isolated to the commonality of the human experience, is profoundly destructive.  

Americans more than any other national community has little excuse not to embrace this process and make it work well. We have the resources (far more than other countries) and the opportunities to be educated, liberal in our humanity, thoughtful, forward-thinking and resilient to significant changes ahead. This is how  best we can serve ourselves and the global community as well.

Today’s students (young women and men/ high school and college students) are in the historical and developmentally normal process of experiencing the profound, exciting, intimidating and confusing transition from being the dependent child morphing into the increasingly more independent and self-sufficient adult.  This transition is universal and essential in human development and as such in humanity’s success; however its length and particular form are variable and unique depending on not just the individual vagaries of each family’s circumstances and personalities, but also on the cultural, economic and social dynamics that play out in an individual’s immediate environment (e.g. where in the World one is raised). It is nonetheless the  same – Passage from Childhood to Adulthood – chronicled  extensively throughout human history.

The changes are obvious to most of us who have some perspective framed by the span of time of our  acquaintance with anyone moving into, through or out of this developmental evolution. However, trying to skin out the particular and various influences and pressures that come into play which frame the experience, length of time it takes and results of the passage (transition), are never easy to distinguish except in the most overt traumatic forms. This is the phenomena that so frequently has parents scratching their heads,  as they try to understand how their 2 children, raised ostensibly with the same set of values, models and influences, have unfolded and present themselves in dramatically different ways and notable differences. Certainly, all of us are born with different personalities (is this a function of the subtle different brewing and mixing of the parent’s DNA in each as they “cook” in utero?) and certainly there is much talk about the first  6 weeks of a newborn’s life with more or less  nurturing, that can modify a range of foundational character  traits. However, there also is no question that there are other more subtle characteristics that weave through an individual’s first 22 years (25 years?) of life that also make the difference in each individual’s evolution to adulthood.

The development of the individual is an outgrowth of millions of moments that are usually discrete but nonetheless imprint the neural pathways of the brain which like the rutted paths of the great western trails set the ingrained direction of the physical geography of the great migrations. And so then like those deep, distinct paths determine physical direction so do the increasingly deepening neural pathways that are grooved out through repeated practice determine which skills, behaviors, and thinking patterns are physically developed and integrated into the life of each individual.  The grooved pathways then evolve into characteristics unique to each individual. These grooves are etched into the foundational personality of each individual and become the structures of each person’s abilities and capabilities to develop into balanced individuals or not.

When individual students are overly “protected” from the myriad small failures by over-parenting, the individual gets no chance to practice managing and learning from the failures. They have little opportunity of converting them into successes and so learning about how to manage the vagaries of life and becoming more confident with each “manageable” challenge. Without this practice, students are disabled when the more significant failures or difficulties present themselves, which inevitably they will.

Years ago, I overheard a disturbing story about the quarterback of a very successful high school football team in a very affluent Connecticut community. He was the “golden boy” who was always stretching the limits of civil and legal behavior, and each time he got into difficulties, his parents bailed him out. His parents had always shielded him from all difficulties and so he had no idea how to manage truly on his own. Eventually other, coaches, teachers, and “boosters”  in the community also bailed him out or looked the other way; and so he had no chance to learn or develop a sense of what it was to take responsibility for his own actions. After graduating from high school, he headed off to college, full of hubris and a sense of deep entitlement. However, he had no enablers “protecting” him rom the difficulties and expectations of college. He lasted less than a semester and had a nervous breakdown. This maybe more extreme than what happens to most students who are shielded from life’s difficulties; nonetheless it is demonstrative of how over-weaning by parents can actually damage their children with the result the very opposite of what they hoped for their child.

For the parents who are brave enough to control the anxiety that comes with  raising children but be available at critical moments, and who let them grow naturally through self-managed experiences and accompanying little failures, end up  raising children to become competent individuals who have learned how to  find  their own self-agency independent of their parents. Their transition to adulthood  will be far more successful and they will live their lives full of confidence in what can be done and with a surer sense of their own independence and abilities; they grow up passing through the small and large “rites of passage” as intact, healthy and capable humans.

The character traits of self-awareness, resilience, optimism, excitement for life’s opportunities,  curiosity and courage to take risks and delve into new realms of innovation and interaction, and the social intelligence to connect and collaborate in the new employment environments of solo entrepreneurship and the self-assembled careers; these are all essential elements that schools, colleges and communities need to offer our children as elemental aspects of a good education blended into the traditional curricular disciplines.

In the complex disruptive environment of their near and distant future, an outgrowth of the inexorable, disruptive changes ahead; the Z-Generation will need to be capable, to be independent, to be brave and flexible creative adults.

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What a good education can actually do!

My focus and great concern for the past 30 + years in “education” has generally been keyed on what constitutes true education of “adolescents to young adults”, 13-25 years old and how truly inadequate contemporary education has proven to be for the vast majority of students.

Experiential Programs

Many years ago, 1984, I began working at a school for bright dyslexic students who came to high school with very poor academic skills and very low self-esteem and a sense of the futility. The structure of the school was framed around a more intimate form of teaching and learning, which was quite appropriate for the population. However, the premiere program in the curriculum was the outdoor leadership and experiential education courses, that were required for all students. These courses were a form of “rite of passage” that challenged students to come to grips with their insecurities and to learn to think through problems and collaborate with others to overcome the experiential challenges they were confronted with. The results of these experiences were very visible and clearly helped students develop the confidence and skills, to apply to the far more challenging academic expectations for a dyslexic student of college-bound traditional courses of study. The resilience, grit, confidence and trust-building learned through these experiences formed a life-long foundation for these students. For me, who was schooled in a very traditional, lecture and memorization format, it was a revelation which has stayed with me throughout my lifetime!

 What I Learned

Adolescent students learn the best by doing and acting on ideas in a tactile and interactive form. It is just how the adolescent “homo sapien sapien” brain is wired. Remember the greatness of recess and the science labs and the field trips. They weren’t just breaks in the monotony of concentrated sitting. They were a release to do what comes naturally. To interact, collaborate, respond affectively to stimuli that were part of a natural expression of learning.

The History

  • Up until the Industrial Revolution in which the a mass population of basically educated individuals were critical to mass production and the drive to capitalize on rapid economic growth, learning was found in the apprenticeship and the hands-on demands of learning skills to get through everyday life. With the industrial model of mass production came the industrial model of mass education to teach the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. These skills are still essential for the modern person, however, the industrialized form of American education does little to educate students to develop the skills that can take the basic R,W, A into far more versatile and necessary realms of ability that humans will need to effectively manage the very disruptive and complex world of the future.
  • It is the very skills embedded in school “Recess”,  in a pickup soccer game, in working under the hood of an automobile, or hiking into the woods and camping out  fishing for food and finding shelter that become embedded naturally into how an individual approaches life’s challenges. It isn’t these specific experiences (fishing etc.) that are necessary to build skills of creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, resilience and grit, but rather what they and other similar experiences require individuals to do; that is practice adapting, working together and pooling resources, in planning and thinking about circumstances that are both immediate and anticipatory, in creating imaginative solutions to complex problems.
  • Future challenges unlike we have ever experienced, will require individuals and new forms of communities to bring to bear not only hard skills learned but also the essential glue of “soft skills”, to get the work done, well and with thoughtful understanding of the ramifications of their actions.

What Some Schools Actually Do

Schools are the singular place where consistent practice of these affective skills can occur. I know of several independent schools who use timber-frame building or school based gardens as tools for not only learning hard skills but even more significantly the soft skills necessary to pull off completion of the projects. It is through the planning, design, project coordination, construction and finishing, that mathematics, conceptual design and use planning, mechanical and engineering physics, are applied. It is also where the history of building design, cultural history, literature and science are blended into the exercise. As a result, students learn how to get complex projects completed and their historical and literary place in the human experience.

There are some schools that integrate the design of gardens and the types of food produced with academic learning about human nutrient, body chemistry, physical, emotional and cognitive health and brain development, with the biology of living cellular structures, with the literary expression of the wonder of life and human development, with the history of plant domestication and civilization, with an application of mathematics and food use and fertility and production.

In these contexts, students get the math, the science, the history, the writing skills, the literary expression, if learned this way; because it makes sense, has meaning and context, and is intellectually engaging. This is the way the mind of the adolescent works by answering the question of “why  am I studying this stuff?” And throughout, students are also using those essential soft skills, which can only be truly learned by practice, over time.

My regrets for this society which has so much potential for a bright future, is the chronic dumbing down and shallow thinking about what education. Just reading writing and ‘rithmetic?  This dumbing down is similar to what happened with Television at its inception; it always had the potential to be a powerful tool to elevate the social discourse and knowledge base of modern society. Programming could have exposed society to more thoughtful and fulfilling ideas and histories of the human experience, and thus elevate humanity to brighter levels of function and social care. Instead, it evolved into a capitalized, profit-making machine offering deadening and superficial “entertainment” for the masses.;  very cynical and very destructive. A profound loss of opportunity that could have truly elevated the standard of the world cultures and enhanced human understanding for an effective and cooperative global community.

The future of the World and the success of Homo sapien sapiens will be very dependent on creating a new model of education which give the next generations the frames of mind, the soft skills, and the practice to come to grips with the future disruptions which are coming; at an increasingly rapid rate and unpredictable form. To manage the disruptions or to simply react and so succumb. It takes vision and a sense of shared mission; not fractious, self-serving rhetoric and status-quo thinking.

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Updated and Cleaner The Student Compass website

An updated The Student Compass website has be very recently published. The old site, though comprehensive, was just too complex and textually overwhelming. The new site, is visually more appealing and manageable. Though there is much more to say about the work that The Student Compass is engaged in, the essentials are to be found in the new website. Further information is available on request or through a telephone/ Skype or FT chat. 

Have Fun!!

Jake Horne

The Student Compass. President

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Future Careers

This is a speculative list of possible future careers.  Some of these exist today or are on the horizon. Others are anticipated and will come into existence as modern effects unfold: that of – advanced technologies, environment changes, evolution of global economies, unsustainable  access to essential resources,  and morphing of political communities reactioning to these  effects. This list is extensive but not complete. 


Remote Surgeon

Medical Roboticist


Cognitive Behavioural Therapist


Health Coach

Medical Sonographer

Genetic Counselor

Microbial Balancer

Lip Designers

Clone Ranchers

Body Part & Limb Makers

Memory Augmentation Therapists

Memory augmentation surgeon

Respiratory Therapist

Organ Agents

Octogenarian Service Providers


Stem Cell Researcher

Custom Implant Organ Designer

Massage Therapist


Home Health Care Aide

Healthcare Navigator

Multi-Region Healthcare Coordinator


End of Life Therapist

Dream Specialist

Quantified Self Personal Trainer

Artificial Intelligence Programmer


Health Services Manager

Medical Records Administrator


Amnesia Surgeons



Classroom avatar manager

Distance Education Consultant

Hackschooling Counselor

Speech-Language Pathologist

Social Education Specialists


Aerospace Engineer

Drone Dispatchers

Robotics Technician

Robot Counselor

Makeshift Structure Engineer

Robot Polishers


Nano-Weapons Specialists

Welding Technologist

Simulation Engineer

Virtual Reality Tech Support

“Heavy Air” Engineers

Laboratory Technician

Seed Production Technician

Technical Writer



Transportation Engineer

Auto-Transport Analyst

Space Tour Guide

Inter-space commercial pilot

Elevated Tube Transport Engineers

Robocar Traffic Controller

Auto Mechanic (Electrics Only)


Organic Food Producer

Food scientist

Plant Educator

Urban Shepherd

Urban Agriculturalists

Urban Farmer

Vertical farmers

GM or recombinant farmer

Aquaponic Fish Farmer




LEED Certified Architect

Sustainable Urban Planner

Community Service Manager



Art Museum Curator

Ecosystem Auditor

Energy Resources

Solar Technology Specialist

Regional Grid Director

Renewable Energy Engineer

Renewable Energy Technician

Wind Turbine Installation Technician

Wind Turbine Repair Technicians

Space-Based Power System Designers

Mass Energy Storage Developers

Energy Resources Engineer

Biorefinery Plant Manager

Resource Management



Plant Psychologists

Waste Management Consultant

Garbage Designer


Robotic Earthworm Drivers

Mining Resource Specialist


The Environment

Ecotourism Travel Guide

Carbon Capture Technician

Earthquake Forecasters

Geo-engineers – Weather Control Specialists


Water development specialists

Climate Change Mitigators



Cyber Security Specialist

Information Security Analyst

Media Search Consultant

Data Technologist

Data Scientist

Interface Designer

Site Acceleration Engineer

Computer Forensics Analyst

Quality Assurance Engineer

Cloud Computing Engineer

Cloud Architect

Digital Detox Therapist

Internet Crack Team Volunteer

Gamification Designer

Media Re-mixer

Casual Game Developer

Integrated Digital Media Specialist

3D Printing Engineers

Social Media Architect

Enterprise Mobile Developer

Global System Architects

Waste Data Managers

Smart Dust Programmers

Mobile Application (App)  Developer

 Business & Regulation

Tax Examiner

Business Architect

Simplicity Expert

Biofilm Installer

Business Colony Managers

Competition Producers

Sustainability Officer

Regulatory Compliance Officer

Cultural Skill Sherpa

Small Business Owner

Employment Recruiter

Intelligence Analyst/ Commercial Analyst

Book-to-App Converters



Financial Engineer

Sarbanes-Oxley Specialist

Alternative Currency Speculator

Alternative Currency Bankers

Blockchain Optimizer

Crowdfunding Specialist

Seed Capitalists

Quantitative Finance Analyst

Sharia Financiers

Protective Services

Neighbourhood Watch Officer

Corrections Officer

Data Hostage Specialists

Quarantine Enforcer


Virtual Services Worker

Personal Digital Curator

Digital Death Manager

Augmented Reality Architects

Time Brokers – Time Bank Traders

Avatar Designers

Avatar Relationship Managers

Productivity Counselors

Privacy Managers

Privacy Consultant

Skype Staging

Meme Agent

Personality Services

Vicarious Videographer

Smart Contact Developers

New Science Philosopher-Ethicists


Prison System Dismantlers .

Hospital and Healthcare Dismantlers.

Income Tax System Dismantlers.

Government Agency Dismantlers.

Education System Dismantlers.

College and University Dismantlers.


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Disruptions, Adaptation, Creativity, Resilience Good Will and Luck – the Next 50 Years


         The next several generations will have to manage a much more complex matrix of social, political, economic and environmental disruptions exceeding anything the human species has ever had to manage in its history (short of, I suppose, the great Ice Age.)


~dramatic population growth global

~significant urban growth   globally

~competition for food and natural resources ~increased global tribalism, fractured national & ethic   identities

~competition between nations for political dominance and economic hegemony

~climate change & extreme weather variation

~greater concentration of wealth & extreme income inequality

~environmental degradation

~profound & rapid technological change ramifying throughout global societies

~robotics and corollary social and employment impacts ~ubiquitous IOT/near-term AI             singularity

~cyber-warfare & cyber crime

~personal privacy exposure

~infrastructure degradation

~challenges to energy  production & distribution



These and many other disruptions and challenges will be the new “normal” which our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be impelled to come to grips.

All of these disruptive impending systems and events are the result of human activity arising from a preoccupation in short-term self-interest that ignored or minimized the future impacts of that behavior. Though short-term interest has always been an element of human nature, the “mergers and acquisitions” movement of the 80’s and 90’s compressed the horizon for determining the value of the investment (whether equity or personal capital) from a long-term view (years) to very short-term (nano-seconds). This doesn’t leave much room for reflection on the ramifications of this behavior or any long-term planning which could clarify the impacts of this behavior. As such, the current vision is has been hyper-focused on the very near-term benefit of self-interest versus long term benefit of the greater good and issues of existential viability.

This form of thinking is very much out of sync with the mechanisms of natural processes and global sociological movement, phenomena which are not easily visible in the short-term but evolve out of much longer-term process.

The financial costs associated with anticipating near-term change and modifying the antiquated existing systems will be profoundly expensive; far in excess of what they would have been if addressed in a timely manner.  Impact mitigation, crisis management, economic dislocation, and lost opportunity and reconstruction of damaged capital and structure will be enormously expensive, consuming substantial capital investment that could have been allocated for a broader social benefit and the general welfare of the local, regional and global communities.

 [The debate over funding the Social Security System and imposing debt on future generations seems so trite and divisive in the face of these much more profound and burdensome debts that will have to be shouldered by future generations.]

The wonder of humans is their capacity to adapt and creatively solve problems. The future of human cultures and civilization will be defined by this ability and how well it is carried through in dealing with the profound changes that are happening now and will continue to happen in the next few generations.

The past two generations, in particular those of the wealthy western societies who had the greatest opportunity for positive action, have demonstrated a profound self-absorption and possessiveness, lack of forethought and a cohesive concern for their children as a generation.

Exacerbating this thoughtless and irresponsible vision of the future, the present generation (baby-boomers in particular) has been preoccupied with maintaining the status quo, that of relative comfort and has done little to coalesce behind a clear vision of what the future could look like nor adequately anticipated the means to mitigate impacts through modified behaviors.

It is the typical generational and perennial handoff “gift” to future generations. However, the breadth and negative ramifications of the ”gift” are geometrically far greater than any previous handed down to another generation. This is the “gift” of the “revolutionary ‘60’s/70’s boomers who were going to change the world; the Age of Aquarius!!

It is rather a pathetic circumstance that humans are a reactive species; I suppose all animals really are. Thoughtful planning and deferred gratification to act on a creating a shared vision of a future greater good is not really a universal human trait. The United Nations has been a noble attempt, with some real success. However, various national self-interests have inhibited its fuller actualization. It is particularly sad that in “first world” nations, nations with the capital and resource flexibility to engage in this sort of existential exercise, have been so incompetent in coalescing behind a greater good vision of the future.

However, it is now more important for these new generations (Millennial and Z- Generations) to project their energies into the future to develop a shared purpose in the interests of a greater good to not defer anticipating the dramatic changes that are rolling rapidly into our lives and to apply their intelligence and adaptive creativity to realistically come to grips with these near-term and long-term profound  changes. The World isn’t flat. It is profoundly complex and requires   novel and sustainable strategies ways.

It is a challenge of monumental proportions, not to be avoided (for existentially, there is no avoidance possible) but vigorously confronted, with an animation and a sense of optimism of “the possible”- humans can find mutual purpose and commonality in the challenges of the future finding personal opportunities and a sense of hope in the future.

But there can no longer be a short-term vision. Education must be purposeful and learning must optimize the broadest range of creative thinking and dynamic action. Silos of thought and silos of self-interest are simply the ostriches of human behavior which have little social merit and should be relegated to the heap of failed human endeavor.

Think deeply, reflectively and collaboratively. With our 10,000 year old brains, it is time to shift the way we live and care about our future and our children, and their children’s, children’s, children…….



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