Feature Story

Update that resume - the jobs of the future are coming

by Laurence Cruz

The jobs of the future are coming

Many job titles sound like science fiction but are rooted in trends that are already gaining momentum today.

Help wanted: Bio-tissue designer with at least three years' experience in off-world colonies. Background in gene editing technologies a must — experience in 3D printing of limbs preferred. Blink twice to apply.

The future is coming fast, and with it, job ads and titles that sound like the stuff of science fiction. But many of these future jobs are an evolution of trends that are already gaining steam.

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"Advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, human enhancement and hyper-connectivity will help transform industries, enable the birth of new sectors, and lead to a whole new set of professions and jobs," "Advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, human enhancement and hyper-connectivity will help transform industries, enable the birth of new sectors, and lead to a whole new set of professions and jobs," says global futurist Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future, who advises clients around the world on how to anticipate and create the future. "These new professions could draw on multiple underlying disciplines."

Here are a few examples Talwar and other futurists have identified.

Medicine, Biology and Biogenetics

Genomics Baby Designer: The idea of "designer babies" has been around for years, but baby designers? By about 2030, scientists predict that advances in gene editing will make it possible to genetically modify not just crops and livestock, but people. Using gene-editing technologies, scientists will be able to "upgrade" human embryos — from altering physical appearances to eliminating the risk of autoimmune diseases. A baby designer could help parents design personalized enhancements and select the genetic make-up of their unborn child, although there are major ethical questions around this issue.

Human Enhancement Technician: We're already starting to augment the human body with chemical, genetic, electronic and physical enhancements. In the future, body shops with appropriately trained technicians will perform these upgrades — administering genetic modifications, 3D printed limbs, electronic stimulation and nootropic drugs (as in smart drugs and cognitive enhancers).

Chief Augmentation Officer: This new addition to the C-suite will be responsible for choosing the right AI technology for a specific task, and design work processes where humans and machines work together, complement each other, and provide employees with the right options and the time to transition to them. In addition, as more humans seek augmentations that could render them close to superhuman cyborgs, the CAO will oversee the different management, working conditions and workplace rights that these human beings 2.0 will require.

End of Life Planner / Death Strategist: As lifespans get longer for those who can afford it, deciding when to die becomes a difficult decision that will need to factor in emotional, healthcare, familial, economic and tax-planning factors. This will give rise to a new profession that's part medical doctor, part financial advisor, and part family therapist and grief counselor.

Environment

Climate Change Reversal Specialist: Climate change specialists already exist today, but as the impacts become more evident and increase in number, new roles will emerge for engineer-scientists who can help reduce or reverse the effects of climate change on specific locations. Among the creative solutions proposed: painting roofs and roads white, covering glaciers and deserts with reflective plastic sheeting, using giant umbrellas to deflect the sun's rays and introducing iron filings into iron-poor parts of the ocean surface to stimulate phytoplankton production with the aim of accelerating carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration from the atmosphere.

Energy

Insect-Based Food Developer, Chef, Nutritionist: As we advance our understanding of the health-enhancing properties of different insects, specialist roles will emerge using insects to create new foods and dishes.

3D Food Printer Engineer: 3D printed food is already a thing. In the future, 3D printers will use cartridges containing food stocks, flavors and proteins that can print out everything from custom diets to never-before-tasted gastronomic wonders.

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Internet and Virtual World

Avatar Manager: As classroom walls get replaced by virtual environments for teaching essential skills, avatars will increasingly support and even replace teachers. The avatar manager is an expert in the real world who will operate the avatar in the virtual world.

Avatar Designer / Avatar Relationship Manager: As avatars become more lifelike and make the transition to the real world as life-sized, holographic images, they will act and speak for humans at business meetings and social gatherings. They may even require the services of next-generation PR professionals to manage their public image and to help them get out of trouble or dangerous relationships, sometimes with other avatars.

Robotics:

Personal Bot Mechanic: As robots drop in price, middle-class families worldwide will be able to buy robotic personal assistants or companions. These assistants will work 24/7, but will still need the occasional tune-up or repair from a personal bot mechanic.

Powered Exoskeleton Engineer: This engineer will design wearable robots that assist and protect soldiers, construction and rescue workers or other people working in dangerous environments.

Transportation

Hydrogen Fuel Station Manager: Hydrogen could become cost-competitive with gasoline if refueling stations were to become mass produced. The hydrogen would be produced on site, so managers would need an entirely different set of skills — science as well as retails skills — than those required in today's gas stations.

Space

Space Architect: As humans explore space and colonize Mars (and other planets?), there will be a growing need for designers of habitats for these environments, including greenhouses, living quarters, classrooms, meeting spaces and more.

Space Tour Guide: With the advent of space tourism, a new role could emerge for specialists in astronomy who can guide us in exploring the cosmos while on vacation. This cosmic enthusiast will draw on cosmology, astronomy, space science, geography, history and geology to help passengers get the most out of their journey.

Politics, Economics and Commerce

Crypto Detective: The spread of crypto currencies and initial coin offerings has led to high levels of fraud and concerns over shadow economy transactions. Specialist detectives backed up by AI will be required to unravel crime in the cryptosphere. 

Data Hostage Specialist: Ransomware has shown that holding data hostage, whether it belongs to individuals, companies or hospitals, can be tremendously profitable. Corporate ransoms can cost millions of dollars. A data hostage specialist would have the software tools to free data that's being held hostage, or at least reproduce it on a clean system so a hospital could continue to care for patients. Similar to a hostage negotiator, a data hostage specialist could also negotiate with the captors to ensure the data has not been corrupted or sold, attempt to reduce the ransom payment and otherwise restore the data to its rightful owner.

As far-fetched as these jobs may sound, Talwar says many of them will be common in the 2030s or sooner — about 12 years from now. This is the world that parents of today need to prepare their children for. Or if you're an early-in-career professional, it's the world you may need to prepare yourself for. It'll be time to tweak that LinkedIn page sooner than you think.

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