[Continued from part 1.]
This article is an edited version of a response to an email I received from a listener (and current student of the Future Skills Program), who asked me the tough question “Which areas should I go into if I want to be successful, and what should my approach be?”
7 Guide Posts to Developing Future Skills
- Focus on the big problems that need solving: energy, water, pollution, food, longevity/health, (rare metals/asteroid mining)
- Focus on what makes people tick: being social, getting laid, feeling important or successful or at least entertained
- What might go wrong that will need fixing? debt clean-up, cheap living quarters, refugees
- What’s already working? List the largest, most valuable, most successful, fastest growing companies and figure out how to be valuable for any of them – as an employee or a subcontractor. But be critical – some of the largest ones might be dinosaurs overdue for extinction
- What skills are hard to acquire? what skills are today’s youth lacking and not willing to make the effort to get?
- Remember to scratch anything off the list that is easily digitized. But keep things where the combination of a person and a computer system would have a sustainable edge
- The singularity enablers: nanotech, AI, biotech, robotics, additive manufacturing (3D-printing, including living cell-printing)
Creating a list from the above (including the 32 subcategories from part 1 of my answer) is material for a loooong article (or project) in itself, but certain skills stand out to me:
- Programming for entertainment, robotics, space exploration, data mining, healthcare applications
- Statistics for intelligent data mining and information organization
- Mathematics (foundation for programming, physics and statistics)
- Healthcare (formal education mandatory)
- Law (formal education mandatory)
- Psychology (for humans lost in the brave new world of technological acceleration, for war veterans and refugees, for Programming/evaluating robots and AIs, and not least psychology for marketing [combined with statistics and data mining of course])
- Design (might need talent, might be a question of formulas, I don’t know)
- Marketing (things always need selling, marketing… – remember to combine marketing skills with psychology and statistics)
Also consider the following factors:
Skill set, ability or interest required?
Likelihood of success, growth, profitability for the category?
Inherent demand, sustainability for area: Maslow level?
Valuation, investment availability, start-up potential?
Physical capital requirements (machines? expenses?)
If I were to restart a new career it would be in the field of ROBOTICS, which I think have the potential of becoming for this century what the AUTO industry has been for the last century. At present we have a lot of stupid single-purpose robots everywhere – some are status symbols, some are not anymore. They are called cars, washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners etc. Soon, more general-purpose robots will take over more and more household chores, caretaking of sick and old, companionship, telepresence/socializing. I also think robots can become the new status symbol that has been reserved for cars (but probably 10 years out).
Forecasting, futurenews: there already are some attempts at this. I’m not sure how or who should get into this field. Perhaps Kurzweil gets it for himself but somehow I think strategic predictions of technology, weather, demographics etc will be in demand IF you can make your models or predictions trustworthy.
My main point really is, you can’t pick an area and get rich simply by being smart and hard working. Hence you should pick an area where you’ll be happy/fulfilled. And quite possibly you’ll become wealthy too after long enough… or stop caring about money on the way.
Tech and the environment are two excellent routes, I think. Finance is mostly meaningless, even if “business” (making deals) can be fun and meaningful.
I would go for some crossover between medicine, psychology, anti-virus, AI, robotics, automation, clean energy, water purification/desalination and parentless protein (plant, lab grown, insects).
Or for entertainment for that matter if you enjoy that kind of stuff – gaming, animation, tech-porn.
AI-robotics-porn WILL become big someday. And I’m SERIOUS about this.
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