At the turn of the century James Gleick published his book Faster: The acceleration of just about everything. One of his main arguments revolves around what he refers to as the 'paradox of efficiency': despite increasingly more efficient and better integrated systems as well as broad availability of technology to support us, we have less time to spend freely. Technology dictates our behaviour and even the smallest hiccups in a 'tightly coupled' system, without any spare capacity, immediately lead to delays for many. The world has not changed since, on the contrary even. Technology takes more of our time than ever before. We spend more time with technology literally in our hands and waste time struggling with technological malfunctions all the time.
Things are going to be radically different from now on optimistic technologists and trend watchers tell us. The rise of new technologies will even take over much of our jobs and leave us with an abundance of leisure time. Robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, and online propositions will relieve us from boring, repetitive jobs that soak up our time, be it in our working or private lives. To pep up their presentations, they even warn us for the 'jobless society' that will bring problems we have never experienced before. New technologies will no doubt replace many of our current jobs, we see it all around us. From insurance and travel agents to real estate brokers and bookkeepers. The more consolidated an industry, the faster it mostly happens.
Moving towards a jobless society is, however, quite another thing. It basically assumes that the rest of the world will stay as it is, ceteris paribus, which in every respect is rather ignorant. Many of today's most popular jobs and employers did not exist ten or twenty years ago. Even though websites and apps can now be created in the blink of an eye, demand for people who master skills in these areas is higher than ever before. The same holds for so many other industries and professions. When science and technology advance, new systems, demands and jobs-to-be-done will emerge, as will new start-ups that change the scene. It has happened in the past, and will again happen in the future. Change is the only constant.
New tech jobs
New technologies and tech players will create new kinds of systems, ecologies, and demands. Given the explosion of start-ups and the acceleration in technological development across all sectors and industries, what will be among the fastest growing tech jobs in the future? Here are a few that can make your career.
Artificial intelligence modellers
Everything that can be automated will be automated ... but someone has to do the job. In order to automate increasingly complicated jobs and make people redundant, systems have to become more intelligent and, on top of that, learn over time. Even though futurists bid against one another when artificial intelligence will overtake the human mind, a lot of work has to be done before it happens full artificially, if ever. Modellers working in this area may well have a lifetime job.
Driven by a variety of forces - including rising costs, shortage of professionals and quality improvements as well as privacy and convenience preferences by patients - health technology will grow exponentially in the next decades. Home care electronics, care and cure robots and diagnostic instruments, to name but a few, have to be build, installed, explained, and maintained over time.
Renewable energy technicians
The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is irreversible, and it may go much faster than we think. A sustainable economy creates much more jobs locally than a fossil-based one. Solar panels, wind parks, and heat pumps have to be installed, monitored and maintained. It will drive a growing demand for renewable energy technicians.
3D printer operators
Called the next industrial revolution, 3D printing will shake up global production and logistics. Exit economies of scale and warehouses piled up with stocks, enter flexible printing of products and spare parts around the corner on demand. Demand for 3D printer operates will grow with double digits in the next decades. Printing organs and other body parts will be a distinct profession requiring a specialised academic degree.
Allround system renovators
Local waste management is the other side of the 3D-printing coin. Moving towards a sustainable, circular economy, renovating and re-using materials to create and re-create new systems turns into a rapidly growing industry. Instead of adapting reality to standard solutions, customised solutions will become the norm. It will be no surprise that many renovators also become qualified 3D printer operators.
Functional food engineers
Agriculture is on the brink of a revolution too. Increasingly meat and vegetables will be grown inside controlled conditions to speed up growth and change the nutritional characteristics as required. Food will become more functional, adapted to different customer preferences or even fully personalised to fit in with personal diets and health treatments.
System interface designers
While the backside of new technology will grow in complexity, users will demand intuitive and personalised interfaces that makes even the most complicated systems easy to use. Designing those interfaces requires skilled, experienced professionals that make our life a lot easier, so far that it becomes (close to) unnoticeable.
In an ideal world, technology works as it is supposed to do and automatically connects to other 'things' to create functional systems. Tech Utopia, however, only exists on paper. Legacies, conflicting standards, installation failures, and plain incompetence and laziness of users disturb reality. Call in the gadget handymen that redesign and reconnect your local internet of things at home and fix anything that is digitally broken.
Augmented reality creators
Design your world as you like it. Create contexts that fit your learning style best and conjure a wizard on your desk to explain that tough mathematical problem once more. Visit the island of your dreams and experience the most exciting adventures on a Tuesday night. Invite others to enter the office or neighbourhood as you imagine it. Augmented reality creators help you to twist and redesign the world around you to fit the circumstances you need or enjoy yourself at the time you want it.
Blockchain is commonly associated with Bitcoin but has many more applications. In essence it is a kind of ledger, distributed across a closed or open network. In addition to payments and financial services, Blockchain technology can be used to secure Internet-of-Things networks, protect digital identities, organise selective and temporary access to healthcare records, design fraude-proof elections, and much more. Blockchain architects are the ones who design, implement, monitor and maintain these systems and networks.