Got to the post office to mail some gifts just before the holidays and even a futurist like me was surprised by the short line. Then it made sense when a piercing alarm went off from the overhead speakers. The cashier at the counter said: “oh no! not again!!” “The siren has been sounding constantly all week!” It seemed nobody was authorized or capable of turning it off and I was second in line so I held my place and covered my ears.
When it was my turn, I was barely able to hear the clerk try to sell me insurance for packages going just a few miles – Maybe I need to recheck my crystal ball to see if the packages will be delivered. Signing my credit receipt the pen she handed me didn’t have any ink so I scratched my signature on the thermal paper. With the alarm sounding at the post office, perhaps it was a mistake to buy all those “Forever” stamps, like a lifetime membership in the gym that won’t be around next year. With so much of our mail going by email, what will happen with fewer visits from our friendly mail carriers?
With so much happening in the east, it seems fitting that we shake some Fortune Sticks 求籤 求簽 to see what unfolds. The cylinder is shaken until one stick falls out. Each stick has a number that corresponds to a prediction but these are no fortune cookies and many omens are NOT good.
Like last year’s “9 Things That Could Happen ”(my inbox is so overloaded from your thank yous, that I can’t respond personally) it’s difficult to know what happened yesterday and predicting the future is anyone’s guess. Here are some long range guesses mostly related to arts and entertainment.
1) Our economy is shifting from an information economy to a creative economy. Jobs and growth will be driven by big creative ideas for new products and services in health care and energy and these will put more people to work.
2) Health care will begin to become more automated. Using devices to examine people remotely is only part of the picture. Getting proper treatment is based on the experience and specialized knowledge of practitioners, however much of this is routine. Databases for diagnostics will help identify the unusual and also use our genetic makeup/age and lifestyle to predict our personal risks – leaving experts to the more difficult cases.
3) The future of books, board games, songs, movies and everything under threat from digitization will survive by providing sensory experiences that are superior to their e-counterpart. Books printed on fine paper, games with wooden pieces, concerts and movies that provide a live experience are the future.
4) This year passive television will get a big push from Youtube, Apple, Google and others who want to give you entertainment on your own schedule. A wider assortment of on-demand entertainment will continue to fracture the audiences providing fewer resources for each program causing overall quality to be reduced and we will have to search a million channels to find Seinfeld and Cheers.
5) Calls for transparency in government and business is opening those closed door sessions and clearing those smoke filled rooms. With social media and blogs giving anonymous freedom of speech a greater reach, some calls for transparency, will lift the veils calling disclosure of real identifies and affiliations.
6) Video games are reaching across demographics and will become more popular than movies and television. As corporate training budgets are reduced while, more specialized skills are required at work, expect to find gaming technologies to be used to teach through simulations for everything from accountants to welders.
7) More regulations in the finance sector will continue to be seen as expensive overhead without adding security, and finance will continue to flow to less regulated and lower cost centers.
8) Those with the greatest need have the greatest incentive to innovate. Asia with its choking pollution will lead the way with green energy technology.
9) Less frequent mail delivery will put weekly magazines printed on paper on the endangered species list. Decline of the post office will be the biggest boon to e-readers.
Did you get the packages? Do you hear an alarms sounding? What happened to number 8? What do you think will happen next?