Futures Forecast


Brian Toren

It’s the first of the year and time for forecasts. These are summarized from reading the Star Tribune the past few weeks. The specific author is listed after each category title. The forecasts focus for the most part on Minnesota, but most apply to all states. Some thoughts are my own(in italics & blue). Read them and consider the impact on project management and your own role in project management.

Population and Jobs Source
Suzanne Ziegler
The forecast is for a 40% increase in the population of Minnesotans 65 and older. This is coupled with a decrease in the number of children born. There will continue to be opportunities in the medical services sector including the building and hiring for more senior facilities. There will be a need for more family physicians and doctors trained in geriatrics and home health care services.
There may possibly be less work for pediatricians due to fewer children.

The new millenniums (people born between 1980 and 2000) will arrive in college just in time to train for the new jobs in nanotechnology, robotics, and energy industry related activities like hydrologists and automation. While some of these jobs require new skills and jobs, automation will mean elimination of jobs in sales, and services as these jobs move to on site computers for self service access on line.
McDonalds could even become a “McHorn” and “McHardarts.” Someday in the far far future, you may even be able to print out your pizza order on your 3D home printer.

Source, Norman Draper

There will be more high school students opting for enrolling in college courses while in high school, thus getting a better education and getting their college degrees more quickly since students will graduate early and attend college with some credits already earned
(this could mean more immature people getting through school and into the job market before their brains are fully developed).

Schools may be sharing space with other agencies and even senior citizen housing facilities (gyms, student housing, etc),
helping public schools with their funding as underutilized facilities are used and paid for.

There will be more charter schools as parents become dissatisfied with the pubic school system. There will be more on line courses available and as a consequence more home schooling. A new and powerful source of on-line training is a web site called Second Life. This started as, and still is, a social networking site, however several education institutions including Harvard and Yale are using it to provide a realistic classroom experience on-line. You can actually walk (or fly if you rather), in the form of an avatar into a classroom, sit down and see an avatar instructor give a lecture. The instructor will lecture, show videos, slide shows, share notes and have interactive discussions with the students. The students will interact with each other and stay after class to talk to the instructor and other students. The instructor also sees the student avatars sitting in the classroom; many still sit in the back of the classroom just as in real life

All of theses innovations are going to reduce the funds available public schools, hence the requirement of sharing facilities for a rental price or maybe even laying off employees.

Technology Source
Randy A Salas, quoting Joel Barker

E-book readers are still in an early adopter phase. Joel believes that they will take off when color is introduced. He feels that once the color is introduced they will become another cell phone phenomenon. There are a few of us, however, who will be hold outs and prefer to sit in a comfortable chair and read a good hard cover book. If it’s your own you can tip pages and write in the margins. It’s not the same in an e-book. I will probably feel this way until the book is pried out of my cold dead hands.

There will be refinements in personal technology, but not necessarily any innovation over the next decade. Cell phones will become more ergonomically comfortable, but it’s doubtful that 3D will be added.

This is all there was in the Star Tribune under Technology, So, what are some other things we can look forward to in science and technology?

Nanotech Scientific American – July 24, 2006

While the article did mention nanotechnology it did not go into any detail. Over the next couple of decades, nanotech will evolve through four overlapping stages of industrial prototyping and early commercialization

2010 – The development of three dimensional nanostructure circuits and devices.
These can be used to build, or address rejection of, implants; or creating scaffolds on which to regenerate tissue or even creating the artificial organs themselves. This would reduce the rejection problems of implants.

After 2015-2020 – The next step is producing molecular nanosystems creating molecular structures as distinct devices. These will function better then proteins inside cells in that they will function in more adverse environments then the body’s proteins and could be much faster.

Computers and robots could be reduced to extraordinarily small sizes. Medical applications might be as ambitious as new types of genetic therapies and antiaging treatments. New interfaces linking people directly to electronics could change telecommunications.

Eventually nanotechnology will benefit manufacturing, health, the environment and many other aspects of life. Nanotech does, increase risk in some areas. Will nanodust create health problems if ingested or inhaled? Will little robots run amuck and do nasty things? Will terrorists use them? All of these indicate a need for some regulation oversight and the winning over of the general population to this new and exciting technology.

Some of the many possibilities:
• Batteries embedded in paper
• Mutation of wildlife
• Industrial and medical use of nanodevices which bend under the force of light
• Nanotube coatings for electromagnetic shielding
• Using the Casimir Effect for breakthrough technology
• Smart pills
• Drug dispensing contact lens
• Dirt resisting and self cleaning materials
• Solar shingle manufacturing
• Oil spill cleanup
• Synfuel manufacturing
• Cell imaging
• Artery cleaning robots
• Drug dispensing robots
• Tumor and cancer cell warriors
• Someday, singularity?
For a long list of other future technologies, not necessarily Minnesota bound, go tohttp://www.futureforall.org/whatspossible.htm

Inspiration and source for this document: Minneapolis Star Tribune January 1, 2010.