2013 to 2025: What does the future hold? A look at the World Future Society forecast

The future – tomorrow, 2015, 2020, 2040, etc. – scares me. Sometimes I feel tired and too old to keep up with all the changes and the expected changes. On the other hand, the future and seeing what futurists forecast, excites me! Talking about and planning for what could happen, in my life and in our industry is a neat challenge.

This blog, the thinking for which was stimulated by this email* from the World Future Society (WFS),  looks at forecasting done by the organization. As a reader and proponent of WFS and their publication, The Futurist, I want others to read and think about what will or could be. Don't say you'd rather just deal with today – it's enough to handle. It is critically important to be welland differentlyinformed.

In the 20 forecasts in the attached:

Numbers 2 and 7 make me nervous and curious! If a robot can be created for less than $25K and perhaps created from 3-D printers which will only come down in price and become more sophisticated, who says any of us will be needed to plan and execute meetings? Sure, we can pooh-pooh this now but look how far this technology has come in the last few years. And what about number 5 – "the cloud," a more intelligent cloud,  that can do so much of what many meeting professionals do now? The cloud may take over where robots once dominated and do all the work for which we were hired. Why bother with us? Or will we have a different future?.

In the current The Futurist is "The Ten Top Disappearing Futures" that sorta made me long for the "old days" except the Disappearing Futures  number 1, "Intolerance and Misunderstanding" would be fine to disappear. I've had it with intolerance and the bullying that often results. Alas, this also has potential downsides like "teacher-less education." What does that mean for S(ubject)M(atter)E(xperts) and meeting sessions? Will there be no more meetings and will SMEs not be needed? And in "Why Cultural Understanding May Disappear" it seems our global society, so important in how we do business, may be nothing like we envisioned.

As I read Disappearing Future number 8, "Human Experiences", I quaked at the losses for those of us who are MBTI "I"ntroverts who love time to reflect, alone, and now will be known and found by everyone!

If we no longer can get lost, as noted in number 8, there will be fewer opportunities to explore places we've never been or would never have stumbled upon or experienced had we gone right to our destinations. No more waiting? Then no more times to catch up on  reading or opportunities to meet someone who might expand our horizons. Of course if there's no more waiting, there'll also be less for meeting (if they exist) participants to kvetch at hotel front desks or meeting registration counters!

With two billion jobs disappearing by 2030, in Disappearing Future number 4 "Jobs and Workplace Processes" and, as cited in Dan Pink's 2001 "Free Agent Nation", teamwork no longer needed, do you really think our jobs, even with different titles, will be around? (Here's a link to a 2012 interview with Dan Pink with updated thinking about his book and the underlying study; here a YouTube interview.)

My last copy of Hospitality 2010 was given away; I'm going to buy a copy to re-read it and see where Marvin Cetron et al were on target and off. If someone reading this blog still has a copy, skim it and see what did come to be and didn't. Futurists are "only human" (for now until they too are replaced by robots) and use trends to forecast. 

Reading the forecasts at any of the links above and/or using your experiences in the meetings industry, what do you forecast for our industry for the near (2014-2016) future? For far into the future (2025)?

* Yes, I know it's an ad to garner members for the World Future Society and to promote their publications. But look, it's critical that we know more about what is predicted. Sheesh, I have clients booking meetings into the 2020s; I better look at forecasts.

My disclaimer: My only connections to the World Future Society are as a WFS member (and thus subscriber to The Futurist) and Jeff Cornish, who works for WFS and is son of the founder, is married to a friend and valued colleague; he and I have never met.

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