It’s hard to predict with certainty what Western society will look like a decade from now, but based on current trends and technological advances , we can make some educated guesses. I share a bird’s eye view of some issues of capital relevance for our future , such as society, work , education and companies for 10 years from now .
The accelerations unleashed by Silicon Valley in technology and digital globalization have created a world where every job demands more skills and, moreover, lifelong learning . If you think that machines are smart today and that artificial intelligence is changing everything… wait a year. It is unimaginable what it will be in 10.
And if we have learned anything in recent years, nothing is set in stone and changes generate more changes and everything is being reconfigured.
2033 will come three years after the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This Agenda was born as an action plan for people , the planet and prosperity . It also seeks to strengthen universal peace into greater freedom . It recognizes that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an essential requirement for sustainable development . Will all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, implement this plan?
Are we determined to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and protect our planet?
Are we determined to take the bold and transformative steps urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path ?
As we embark, or are already embarking, on this collective journey, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 169 targets of the Universal Agenda are still far from being achieved.
It is inspiring to seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what they failed to achieve. They seek to realize human rights for all and achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls . They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.
The Goals and targets will stimulate action in areas of critical importance to humanity and the planet:
People: Because we want to put an end to poverty and hunger, in all its forms and dimensions, and to guarantee that all human beings can develop their potential with dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.
Planet : Protecting the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainable management of its natural resources and urgent action on climate change, so that it can meet the needs of present and future generations.
Prosperity : Ensuring that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.
Peace : Fostering peaceful, just and inclusive societies free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.
Collaboration : Mobilizing the necessary means to implement this Agenda through a revitalized Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.
What will happen in the field of Work?
Automation and artificial intelligence are likely to continue to transform the way we work. We may see more jobs disappear due to automation, but new job opportunities may also emerge in fields related to technology, sustainability, and healthcare.
The impact of AI will vary across different sectors: 46% of administrative tasks and 44% of legal professions could be automated, but only 6% in construction and 4% in maintenance, it is estimated.
Artificial intelligence (AI) could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs.
It could replace a quarter of work tasks in the US and Europe, but it can also mean new jobs and a boost in productivity.
And it could eventually increase the total annual value of goods and services produced globally by 7%.
According to research, 60% of workers are in occupations that did not exist in 1940.
But other research suggests that technological change since the 1980s has displaced workers faster than it has created jobs.
And if generative AI is like previous advances in information technology, the report concludes, it could reduce employment in the short term.
However, the long-term impact of AI was highly uncertain so all firm predictions must be taken with a grain of salt.
We don’t clearly know how the technology will evolve or how companies will integrate it into the way they work.
That’s not to say AI won’t alter the way we work, but we also need to focus on the potential gains in higher productivity work-living standards and cheaper services, as well as the risk of being left behind if other companies and economies are better adapted to technological change.
Jobs that will die and others that will be born. For example:
1. Human-machine team manager
2. Augmented reality tour designer
3. Drone Traffic Optimizer
4. Self Employed Auto Mechanic
5. Algorithm Bias Auditor
6. Metaverse Planner
7. Organ Builder
9. Garbage Engineer
10. Earthquake forecaster
What can we expect from Education?
Gone is the idea that we can go to college for four years and then spend that knowledge for the next 40. If you want to be a lifelong employee anywhere today, you have to be a lifelong learner .
And that means: More is now in each person. And that means that self-motivation to learn and keep learning becomes one of the most important life skills.
Children who are in elementary school today will graduate from high school in 2033.
We need a new , evolving learning framework that sets out an ambitious vision for the future of education.
With points of orientation towards the future that we want: individual and collective well-being, solidarity, new fields of knowledge, unknown challenges and a deep reconnection with the human.
A learning model to emphasize the need for students to learn to navigate themselves through unfamiliar contexts.
It is presumable that online education and distance education will become the norm that complements face-to-face education. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online education, and many students and educators have discovered the benefits of remote learning.
Traditional educational institutions may have to adapt and offer more innovative and evolved programs to stay competitive .
The concept of a professor or teacher standing in front of a room full of students listening and responding to instructions is increasingly a thing of the past.
While not an entirely new approach, student learning spaces will replace the typical classroom we know today. This will make students become, in part, co-creators of their own learning.
The experiences that enable collaboration, communication , and teamwork for all students often happen beyond the classroom walls. We need to facilitate these experiences in context, and our classrooms need to be a reflection of this.
More prepared for the real world.
Classrooms will coexist as physical and online spaces, reversing the current learning model so that students can learn at home and spend class time collaborating and applying their knowledge to real-life problems. Taking advantage of the “social” space to enhance social and soft skills.
Beyond 2030, it is highly likely that students will be anywhere, anytime learning.
As the wave of the digital age grows , and we embrace it organically, it is becoming easier to connect with a global reach. A world of information and knowledge is at your fingertips with the click of a button or a simple voice command, and as technology continues to advance, students need to increase their learning with it.
Technology is no longer a motivating factor when it comes to learning, it is essential. It is something that needs to be built into the future of education to ensure that students are equipped with the skills to cope with a world that is dependent on technology.
Without losing sight, in any case, the human factor.
While there are voices that argue that technology in our classrooms creates lazy and disengaged students, this is a myth. Technology has created infinite limits to where learning can occur, with whom, and why.
Technology can be a true revulsion as long as we know how to use it, how to put it at the service of education and how to take advantage of its potential without falling into the trap.
Education in the future will need to demonstrate how technology can be used for the benefit of students and teachers or teachers, as well as teach future generations how to handle the problems that arise from it.
Technology is going to change learning forever and we must embrace it and manipulate it to our advantage.
Just take advantage of technology to improve personalization, the knowledge of each student, for a student-centered approach.
Along with our changing notions of what constitutes a classroom, our ideas about how instruction is delivered must also change.
The more each student is known, the more chances of success we are giving them. Empowering their abilities , helping their weaknesses , understanding them and that they are not numbers or data, but people with a great future will not only improve education but also society and the world.
Most professions treat each individual’s case differently: each patient of a doctor, dentist, or psychologist has individualized treatment plans. Education should be no different.
The old “one size fits all teaching and learning model” is outdated and has no place on the agenda for future education.
In the past, all children and young people did the same work regardless of their abilities or abilities. We now know that this contributes to disengagement, bad behavior, and poor results.
As a result, teachers or professors will have individualized learning plans for students, allowing each student to learn at the pace that best suits their abilities and engage with the content that is most beneficial to them.
Improving the study environment , their well-being and the progress of a generation that is quite misunderstood by the elderly.
The education of the future will demonstrate what you have been told many times: test results do not define you. Scoring is convenient for the system, but it’s a waste of time if your only purpose is to point out who’s up and who’s down.
In the future , the evaluations will be based on evidence, using measures that allow the design and personalization of learning plans.
In the next decade, the company of the future will be very different.
The fundamental objectives of the strategy may not change radically, but the way companies win will change significantly.
New delivery models will emerge in a highly turbulent environment .
Today, companies are defined by the assets they own and control. In the future, companies will be defined by the ecosystems—the assets, relationships , and partnerships—that they control.
The new era will require very different leadership skills and approaches than those that have prevailed for the past 40 years.
Leading and working at a company of the future will also feel very different.
Professional managers, who have successfully guided us for the past 40 years, will either be the best partners or the biggest obstacles to this change. Leaders looking to adapt will need new metrics and tools to accelerate, learn, and help talent reach their full potential .
They may also become increasingly aware of sustainability and social responsibility .
Consumers are likely to increasingly demand that companies be more responsible with the environment and with society in general. Businesses could also increasingly embrace artificial intelligence and automation to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
In the next decade, companies will need to compete more and more on the rate of learning . Technology promises to play a critical role: Artificial intelligence can detect patterns in complex data sets at extreme speed and scale, enabling dynamic learning.
This will help organizations constantly adapt to changing realities and new opportunities emerge , which will become increasingly important in an uncertain and rapidly changing environment .
But for companies to compete in learning, it is not enough to simply adopt AI, which alone can accelerate learning only in individual activities. Unlocking the full potential of AI and humans will require fundamental organizational innovation.
Leaders will need to reinvent the company as a next-generation learning organization.
The truly modern companies of tomorrow might have a few cross-cutting issues:
- Composed of interdepartmental and multidisciplinary teams that allow cross-collaboration and open communication channels.
- By promoting social relationships, employees interact with customers and stakeholders, and discover their true needs and the problems that must be solved.
- Focused on continuous innovations and working towards long-term goals.
- Using a highly iterative work method and take advantage of scientific processes, such as Lean Startup. Performing rapid prototypes and rapid experiments that focus on customer needs.
- Reporting and measuring projects against innovation metrics. Fostering a mindset of exploration, curiosity and courage.
- Identifying and forming innovation champions or teams whose role is to advance new projects and help employees discover new ideas and carry them out. Freeing up small amounts of funds for a large number of ideas, to maximize experimentation. Rewarding “good failures” that inform decisions and provide useful information.
Let’s zoom in a bit more to 2033
Western society in 10 years could be marked by automation and technology, online and distance education, digital health and corporate social responsibility.
And going from the general to the specific, here are some possible tangible changes that we could see by the year 2033:
- Increased adoption of electric vehicles and decreased use of fossil fuels, driving the transition towards a more sustainable world.
- Increased automation and robotics in industries such as manufacturing, logistics, and transportation, which could result in the elimination of certain jobs and the creation of new ones.
- Significant advances in gene therapy and regenerative medicine, allowing the treatment of currently incurable diseases. More use of artificial intelligence and automation in healthcare, including personalized diagnosis and treatment, which could improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare.
- A more expanded awareness of the need for inclusion and diversity in society, which could lead to significant changes in business policies and practices.
- Increased reliance on technology, such as augmented and virtual reality (the metaverse?), in education, work, and entertainment.
- Increase of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, in the energy supply, which could reduce dependence on fossil fuels and improve air quality.
- The explosion of 3D printing in the production of goods and services, which could reduce costs and improve efficiency.
- Increase in teleworking and online education, allowing people to work and study from anywhere in the world.
What is also at stake is what impact an increasingly large and controlling State would have on society.
It is difficult to accurately predict what society will look like in 2033 if the state becomes more controlling and omnipresent. However, if extreme control measures are implemented by the state, it is likely that there will be important changes in individual liberties, privacy and intimacy.
For example, we could see greater control over the information that is shared online, including greater regulation of Internet content and the collection of personal data.
We could also see an increase in public surveillance , including the use of security cameras, location tracking, and monitoring of online activity.
This could have a significant impact on individual freedoms, privacy and intimacy.
People may feel more watched and less free to express their opinions or take certain actions.
There could also be an increase in discrimination and censorship , as the state could more closely monitor what people say and do.
It is important to note that this scenario is not inevitable and that there are steps that can be taken to protect individual liberties , privacy, and intimacy, even in a more controlling and pervasive state.
For example, data protection and privacy laws may be updated to ensure that citizens have greater control over their personal data.
At the same time, measures could be implemented to guarantee the transparency and accountability of the government , which could help to reduce opacity and arbitrariness in political and surveillance decisions.
2033 is just around the corner
We may see faster and faster technological and scientific advances, as well as changes in the way we work and live .
Concerns about climate change and sustainability are also expected to rise , which could drive changes in the way we produce and consume goods and services.
In addition, debates about equality, social justice and diversity are likely to continue , and changes in the way we approach these issues in society.
It is also possible that in the next decade we will see changes in global politics and economics , which may have a significant impact on Western society. The growing rivalry between great powers, such as the United States, China, and Russia , could have implications for the global economy and global geopolitics.
Another factor that could influence Western society in the next decade is demographics , with an aging population and lower birth rates in some countries, which could have economic and political implications.
The interlinkages and integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals are of crucial importance to ensure that the purpose of the new Agenda is fulfilled. If we realize our ambitions to the full extent of the Agenda, everyone’s lives will be profoundly improved and our world will be transformed for the better .
In summary, Western society in the next decade is likely to experience significant changes driven by technological advances, environmental concerns, equality and diversity, global politics and economics, demography, and automation.
And this is only scratching the surface of tomorrow. Each topic is a world that will have to be followed carefully and committing ourselves to decide and do today what will happen tomorrow.
The good news is that new educational models – and new types of companies – are emerging everywhere to enable anyone to embrace learning for the acceleration age.
The academy, the companies, the society , will probably choose leaders who inspire and equip their students, employees, citizens to be strong people who can own their own future.
The only certainty is that everyone can take action on the problems that concern them. We can change the world for the better, together. From today. From now on.
Sources: OECD. RMIT. UN. BCG. Goldman Sachs.