Futurist: Technology changing jobs and industries

Technology will eliminate some jobs, but create new ones and in the process require that businesses and people adapt, according to futurist who founded a Colorado networking firm and think tank.

Thomas Frey described the ways in which technology could affect businesses during a presentation in Denver hosted by Vectra Bank Colorado and the Metro North Chamber of Commerce.

Frey — a futurist, author and speaker — founded the DaVinci Institute based in Westminster. The nonprofit organization hosts educational workshops for startup companies and inventors and also provides research and consulting services

“By nature, we are backward looking, almost as if we are walking backward into the future,” Frey said. “The future gets graded by those in the minds. If we change someone’s vision for the future, we change the way they make decisions today.”

Frey said all industries operate on a sort of bell curve and eventually end. He predicted that more than 2 billion jobs will disappear by 2030. Oxford researchers estimate that 47 percent of today’s jobs will be automated out of existence.

That doesn’t mean there’ll be a shortage of work to do, Frey said. Most of the next generation jobs will come from what he described as micro industries.

One of  those industries involves the sensor movement, he said. The first iPhone had five sensors. Today’s iPhones have 20 sensors. It’s predicted that by 2022, a trillion sensors will be used in products, which will lead to many jobs.

Another industry will connect things to the Internet. Smart jeans are being designed with global positioning system technology, and smart hairbrushes tell consumers when their hair is dry and offer products, he said.

Driverless technology will eliminate transportation jobs, but make transportation safer, Frey said. “Driverless technology will be the most disruptive technology in all of history. It will disrupt in a shorter period of time than anything else, more than automobiles or electricity. There will be over $500 billion lost in the health care industry by the elimination of auto accidents alone.”    

And teacherless education will change the role of education, he said.  By 2030, the largest company will be the one that drives the future of Internet education, and it will be bigger than Apple or Google.

Technology will require people to change careers eight to 10 times, he said.