This ad for McDonald’s stuck with me because I realized my kids are speaking a language I don’t really speak. My younger son texts his friends and their hours-long conversations sometimes have no words. Only emojis.

A recent article in The Economist quotes Bill Gates as saying at least a dozen types of jobs will be taken over by robots and automation in the next two decades, and these jobs cover both high-paying and low-skilled workers. Some of the positions he mentioned were commercial pilots, legal work, technical writing, telemarketers, accountants, retail workers, and real estate sales agents.

Your kids won’t notice those jobs are gone. Just like your kids don’t notice your VCR is gone. Because the new jobs that will replace the lost jobs are as new to us as a picture-based language.

Here are some examples I found:

Robot Counselor
Robots will play a greater part in providing home care and services than they do today. It turns out that people can develop emotional feelings for robots, and different personality types have different robot preferences. This research sets the stage for the emergence of robot counselors to help choose the right bot for a family, by observing how the family interacts, their needs, and their lifestyle.

Big Data Doctor
Big data’s growing influence will inevitably move toward health care. First, doctor visits will be replaced by automated exams, and we will use doctors to analyze data. Then a new type of doctor will emerge who treats based on a patient’s biographic profile and personal data.

Alternate Currency Analyst
Bitcoin is riding the new wave of excitement over private currencies in an unsteady world financial arena. As adoption spreads, we will need crypto-currency bankers, regulators, and lawyers. Currency specialists will design new ways to compute value, such as synaptical currency to assign value to a brain as a new way to calculate labor cost.

Food Supply Consultant
Soon the public will see food scientists as inventors. For example a team of researchers developed color-changing smart tags to tell how fresh your food is. And food scientists are investigating how to use big data to clean up our food supply. Meanwhile, foodies are waiting in the wings to become molecular gastronomists (to help with digestion) and plant psychologists (to quell your guilt). If you’re looking for a job right now, maybe you can be a 3-D printing food consultant.

Memory Augmentation Therapist
Entertainment is all about the great memories it creates. Creating a better grade of memories can dramatically change who we are and pave the way for an entirely new class of humans. Futurists predict we’ll have a way to control our memories and we will be able to hire people to teach us.

Esports Entrepreneur
Today esports players have brand managers, agents and sponsors. The business climate is ripe for creative investment. On the one end there is Betway featuring betting on esports and on the other end is MIT holding an academic conference on the business of esports. Conference topics like finding the digital fan will shift into startups aimed at a those problems. And esports entrepreneurs will find new leagues and satellite businesses to those leagues as the big sports monopolies splinter as fast as the old TV monopolies did.

Species Revivalist
Instead of counting and tracking dying species, we’ll switch to recreating them. The people who specialize in de-extinction will manage not only the chemical process, but also the selection of which will disappear and which will be revived. Of course there will be an ethical component to this job as well—if nothing else, to answer the ongoing debate of should we revive extinct species at all?

One of the hardest things to do as a homeschooler is to be open to kids choosing paths we would not choose for them. It’s hard to provide an education that does not have a predisposition toward the job we would want our kids to want.

I like seeing the future  – of language, of jobs, of anything, really – because it reminds me how the life I might imagine for my kids would be outdated anyway.

 

10 replies
  1. Jeff Till
    Jeff Till says:

    I’m hoping ‘parent’ reemerges as a career option.

    Or at least more opportunities where all parents don’t have to go to work and are pressed to ship their kids to school.

    It’s pretty to think so.

  2. Sarah M
    Sarah M says:

    I think your predictions are pretty interesting, though I tend to think that recreating extinct or nearly extinct species is a lot farther off than the next 20-30 years. (There’s a great podcast, Radiolab, that has a specific show about this and species in the Galapagos.)

    I think the robot idea is most terrifying to me, but maybe because I’ve seen the movie Her, and it was a bit too real, and very sad.

  3. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    My oldest daughter wants a career in cybernetics/bio-engineering, and my middle daughter wants to be an inventor. I’m certain those careers will still be available.

    I sometimes try talking in emoji, but it is hard for me to move away from a text based platform. I have fun creating and sending memes and stickers to people, that is a millennial thing that I picked up on.

    I don’t think it’s just kids. I don’t really notice that VCRs aren’t around anymore either and I try to always embrace new technology. It’s changed so much between having my almost 9 year old and my 4 year old let alone the decades worth of old tech.

  4. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    Our homeschooled child was a passionate player of Minecraft and developed a unique, one of a kind Minecraft Server that teaches other kids how to program and create their own mini games. In 2 years he created a large community of players with sales in 21 different countries!
    MCDiamondfire was just voted as the top server by the largest Minecraft Forum. Indeed, today’s kids are doing things we could not have imagined!

  5. Bostonian
    Bostonian says:

    Honestly, the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this ad was the cash register at a McDonald’s, which is likewise peopled with icons rather than words or numbers.

  6. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    The best engineers and scientists I knew and know are very familiar with the history and evolution of technology and their particular technology field. It does matter to know how the people around the world got to where they are with the technology they employed to get them there. I will agree that the children of today will not be working to perfect the VCR. However, there will be many that will be aware of its function, design, etc. that may help them spot trends to new technology. As a side note, sometimes there is a “revival” of “old” technology. An example is the vinyl record. I still have old records and two vintage turntables. I also have very good hearing and can discern the superb full frequency range of a record as opposed to compressed or limited (or both) sound from an mp3 device. The newest technology is not necessarily the “best” technology. There will always be trade-offs in one way or another. The basic principles and devices will still apply for many years to come as Bill Gates is well aware. They are still working on flush toilets and electricity in Africa and other poverty stricken areas of the world. The new, improved versions. I have often thought how I would teach science. How I would do it differently to make it more relevant, engaging, and more human if you will. Rather than merely mention the names of inventors and timelines, I would incorporate the discovery process of those inventors and their colleagues. How those inventors stood on the shoulders of giants before them and used their work to assist them. And how they failed for any multitude of reasons including technical, cost, lack of market, etc.

      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        Thank you Bostonian. I haven’t really considered teaching although I may enjoy and be well suited for it. Maybe because I’ve thought in terms of teaching credentials which would require more coursework for me in order to qualify. I don’t know to be quite honest with you. You’ve given me something to think about.

        • Jess
          Jess says:

          I am a homeschooling parent of two teens. Our classes are often outsourced to professionals in a specific area who are not “teachers”. If you have a skill or an expertise and a willingness to share it with children, there are opportunities for you in the homeschooling community. I pay for a professional photographer to teach my children digital photography. I pay a tutor to teach them sign language. I pay for music lessons. Next year I will most likely pay for chemistry or a higher level science class. When children come together who are interested in a subject (like photography) or realize they may require the class on a transcript for college acceptance (like chemistry) a class is created and a teacher is sought out. Often professionals do this on the side, in addition to their regular career and have a nice supplement to their income.

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