Massive technological changes are yet to kick in according to ‘global futurist’, Dr Keith Suter, who presented in Bairnsdale on Monday night, hosted by the Committee for Gippsland.
“We are only at the beginning of the IT journey,” Dr Suter said.
“Google is creating driverless cars, Mercedes driverless trucks, for how long will we allow humans to drive vehicles?
“From an insurance point of view there are 1.2 million people killed on roads worldwide each year, computers will be safer – will human drivers be gone in 15 years?”
Dr Suter touched on all kinds of confronting futuristic questions, including mindsets.
“We’re living in a fourth revolution, technology is changing the way we live, but we’re not changing our mindset,” he said.
“A new mindset is required to make the most of opportunities, many people may not want to engage with those new opportunities.”
Dr Suter stressed the value of scenario planning to broaden horizons.
“Scenario planning encourages us to think about the unthinkable, to look at current events with different eyes and be alive to possibilities,” he said.
“It’s not so much about getting the future right, as to avoid getting it wrong.” He cited the Encyclopedia Britannica books as an example where online reference works overtook their use.
“Just because a company is a vital part of today’s community, there is no guarantee it will still be needed tomorrow,” Dr Suter said.
He also called for an overhaul of the education system.
“Young people move in, move out and move on, they’re used to making transitions,” he said.
“I’m skeptical about what we’re teaching in schools. Teachers teach what they were taught and students disengage because they have a sense that it isn’t relevant.
“I learnt all the rivers in Africa, but when I got out of school I didn’t know about contracts, or about conflict resolution, or skills needed to survive in the workforce.
“Young people need entrepreneurial skills.”
Dr Suter then floated the idea of a ‘Gig economy’ in the future, where instead of ‘jobs’ and a workplace to attend every day, people will work on a self-organised, self-employment basis, working on demand.
The term ‘gig’ is a slang word for ‘a job for a specified period of time’ and means the same as when a musician gets a ‘gig’ on a Saturday night at your favourite watering hole.
Agriculture didn’t miss out on discussions with Dr Suter asking whether conventional meat production could be gone by 2050.
He listed threats to meat like plant-based meat substitutes such as soya, almond and oat, lab-cultured ‘beef burgers’, as well as the possibilities of cultivating insects and algae for food.
“There’s a whole new revolution emerging – we need to be alert to what could happen,” he said.
He also predicted in 90 years time Africa would have more people than China and would be a continent to watch.
PICTURED: Committee for Gippsland board chair, Toni Wakefield, interim chief executive officer, Jane Oakley, and Denis Gerrard, Patties general manager operations, welcomed Dr Keith Suter (second from left) to East Gippsland on Monday, who spoke about the massive changes that are yet to kick in globally during a speaking engagement at the Bairnsdale RSL. K750-4550