Jobs in the future

In a recent publication, The University of Melbourne discusses some possible requirements for nurses, architects, artists and farmers in 2027.  This is very interesting, but it is just a decade away.  Predicting needs for 2027 is tricky, but imagine figuring out what job requirements will be like in 3027.  That’s what science fiction often attempts to do.

Imagine for a moment that it’s the year 3018, a hundred years from now.  It might not be too hard to predict what jobs will be like in 3027.  After all, if in 3018 humans already populate several planets near our galaxy’s border and the technology to travel to the next galaxy has been in the works for a few hundred years — and has passed several hurdles and is very close to being reality — one might predict human colonies in the Andromeda Galaxy by 3027.

Looking back in time is easier, because a human in 3018 would know what has already been invented.  Perhaps a few more of the impossibly wonderful technologies of “Star Trek” will be reality by then.  A holodeck, or even a transporter!

But for a sci-fi writer in 2018, it’s not so simple to figure out what technologies and society will be like in 3018.  Oh sure, if I could talk to time travelers, I’d have a pretty good idea — assuming they aren’t from some alternative timeline that I’ll never see.

Perhaps jobs in the future can be predicted from what we know of the past — at least, my sci-fi version of the past.  This is one angle I’m looking at for a new short story this year.  In the meantime, if you’d like to read some of my time travel or other published stories, they are available in my short story anthologies.

Are bots too fast?

Robots can deliver pizza , drive cars, clean floors, get a drink from the fridge, and do all kinds of other stuff for us.  Robots are typically slower than bots.  Bots — the software kind — can quickly and efficiently make purchases for us online, schedule appointments, make travel arrangements, and setup family reunions.  But are some bots too fast?

MIT Technology Review’s “The Download” column seems to think so in their December 2017 article about how “Bots are ruining Christmas…”  I tend to agree.  While everyone likes to enjoy an advantage, at what point is that advantage crossing the line into unfair or even illegal (assuming laws are passed on the issue)?

Those old enough will remember the days before computers and bots when people used auto-dialers to call into radio shows in order to be the first person to respond to a quiz question and win a prize.

We’ve seen software for years now in sports and other event ticket sales.  Bots buy up all the pre-sale tickets from entertainment venues when it is expected that demand will be high — such as for a pop band or playoff game or even a Spring Training game with the Yankees in Florida.  The scalper(s) running the bot then resells the tickets for far more money on the internet.

Now we’re seeing this kind of action for toy purchases around the holidays.  Buyers are forced to look for these popular toys for sale on EBay and other sites.

It’s a shame, because it gives people a negative opinion of bots.  But bots, at least non-AI ones, are just doing the bidding of their owners.  In order to level the playing field and give buyers a chance to compete for toy purchases online, laws should be strengthened or passed to limit the abilities of scalpers and their bots — especially “fast” bots.

When is the future?

Nature (International Journal of Science) recently published an article entitled “Science fiction when the future is now“.  A thought-provoking title and a nice article that made me wonder, when is the future?

I imagine that in every industrious period, especially later in the period, the people of the time might begin to feel that everything has been built or invented — or soon will be.  While it’s true that today we are more technologically advanced than ever before — unless you believe there is a sunken Atlantis which had an even more advanced society — there are many ways that society might change.

Time travel stories sometimes place the future in the past, such as “Back to the Future”.  Ultimately, though, the future does not remain in the past.  Time’s arrow puts the future of 2018 at 2018+x, where x could be 1 femtosecond or 1 billion years.

So, while now is the future for some prior year 2018-x, it’s hard to see how the future is now.  If it were, then the future might be the future of the future.  If x is arbitrarily huge, approaching infinity, then the future of the future is an infinity past an infinity.  That doesn’t seem likely.

My conclusion is that the future is not now.  Whether you agree or disagree, if you enjoy thinking about subjects like this, you might also enjoy reading my time travel stories.  Happy New Year!