A Letter from the Future

For millennials and the generations to follow, the future will differ radically from their parents’ world. Massively powerful digital technologies will bring seismic changes in the lifestyles, opportunities, privileges and choices experienced by young people compared to their parents. Global Futurist Rohit Talwar and Editor Katharine Barnett from Fast Future Publishing have written this letter from the future – which draws on key themes from their books on the Future of Business and Technology vs. Humanity – to give dads a flavour of what’s over the horizon and what they should prepare themselves and their children for...

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Dear Dad,

As I send you this message from December 31st 2030, here are some things I want you to anticipate and tell me about at the start of 2017. In short, the world has transformed out of all recognition because of exponentially improving digital technologies that are coming together to change every aspect of our lives.

The world is hyper-connected; all the big internet systems that dominate our lives talk to each other and combine my data – behavioural, viewing, purchasing, and activity – so I get tailored content, news and products. I save a huge amount of time because I only see things that match my interests and preferences. This hyper-connected data is used in artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to help predict, pre-empt and prevent crime. It is also combined with data from traffic, public works, police and planning departments to highlight possible danger zones and suggest ways to make them safer. While this all raises privacy concerns, the benefits are amazing. I never worry where the kids are or if they are safe. I can see where they've been, track their location and predict where they might be going via my mobile device. In this new connectivity era, constant interaction is normal; the boundaries between private and public have been blurred – we are always in touch with the family in some way. 

I have an intelligent digital assistant (IDA), it lives in the cloud and accumulates all my data, it carries out everyday tasks – I never need to book a restaurant or search for a travel route – it even updates my doctor with my health status. Dad, I want you to know that there's been a revolution in healthcare – I don't need to concern myself with conditions like high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. Personal health devices using nanotechnology, AI and a wealth of web-based bio-tools don't just treat illnesses – they also identify the underlying causes of conditions years before they appear and help prevent them. I have nanotechnology medicine in my bloodstream – waiting to be activated when needed. I know you might think that this is invasive and doesn't give us healthcare choices, but Dad, you won't have to worry about remembering to take your tablets – it's such a weight off your mind.   

Almost everything has been automated, blue collar and white collar job have been taken over by machines – the traditional notion of working for a living has all but disappeared, I have the option to work, if I want to. This technological revolution has provided the basic income guarantee (BIG). I never need to worry about paying the bills or mortgage. There is so much freedom to pursue enjoyable activities, sports and hobbies. I can watch the kids play football, drive to the countryside or work on some DIY – without worrying about upcoming deadlines at work. Burn out, anxiety and stress are things of the past; Dad you would really enjoy our lifestyles. Not only has work been revolutionised but our social systems have changed too. Healthy life spans and the BIG have negated the need for retirement plans – my family and I are going to live healthily into our 90s with a secure income. I don't have to worry about a retirement plan! It's wonderful to know that we can spend so much more time with our families and loved ones, I think I'm even going to get to see my great-great grandchildren. 

Things in 2030 have transformed so wildly, all the things I can see and experience are so radically different from 2017. Dad I know you think that these changes are extreme and revolutionary but they are so amazing, I must share them with you. The future is, quite literally, awesome.

I can’t wait to see what you do with the information. 

With love, 

Katharine 

Global Futurist Rohit Talwar and Editor Katharine Barnett are from Fast Future Publishing, which publishes books from future thinkers around the world to explore how developments such as AI and robotics could transform existing industries, create new trillion-dollar sectors and reinvent business over the next decade. To find out more, go to fastfuturepublishing.com 

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Guest Thursday, 23 February 2017