The Future Of Everything | Less Netflix, More Languages, More Humanity?

Experimental Civics
Mar 12 · 5 min read

I was able to swing by The Future Of Event hosted by Chelsea Collier, from Digi.City and Jay Boisseau, Vizias during SXSW. I had two major takeaways from what I heard at the event.

First, We Want to Build Connections

The first panel I was able to listen to was “The Future of Mobility” and this one was fascinating due to the diverse selection of panelists with very varied viewpoints:

Carey Ann Nadeau was a voice for younger generations sharing hard truths about the expectations we have for transportation, mass transit, and car ownership. When asked by Erin Reilly on why we haven’t see the market respond to the demands of younger generations (Millennials + Gen Z) about more environmentally-sound options, Nadeau’s response was on point:

“these voices don’t have power…you could be screaming into a void and unless you are in an elected position or a position of power to make a change, you are unheard.”

Photo Credit: Sarah Sharif (L to R, order in panel names above)

After delving into some research on the topic and checking for my own curiosity, I had little to no idea that millennials had become the largest generation in the workforce in 2016. According to the Pew Research Center in 2017, 56 million new voices were in the U.S. workforce and I secretly rejoiced.

Photo Credit: Pew Research Center

Change is certainly on the horizon in big ways and we’re in countdown mode folks. One day, these pioneers (I’m biased here) are going to shake things up a bit more and hopefully for the betterment of our darling planet. I enjoyed listening to the mutual understanding for collaboration across private sector companies like GM and mass transit…but the looming question is how will everyone help humanity move in tomorrow’s world? I think collaboration is going to mean a whole lot more than either sector, group, organization has accounted for.

I also really enjoyed the research question posed by John Gaunt to the audience: if we have automated vehicles on the ground, would people catch up on Netflix or learn a new language during their rides?

To the surprise of some and myself, nearly everyone raised their hand for learning a new language. I absolutely loved this and it was an inspiring response so I had to ask myself why was this the first choice.

In my reflection, it came back to our desire to connect.

We are always searching for true connections, whether it is with our work colleagues, relationships, family or friends. As social creatures, we know that language is an opportunity to connect with a stranger in a manner which is more relaxed than the normal terrible charade-style-sign language and short-tempered frustration.

Imagine if every human could communicate without language barriers…what would happen then?

Those few lines of French or Spanish can become incredibly helpful when you are traveling, negotiating with a global client, or wanting to expand to a new market. It’s all about connecting with each other and it was a humbling moment to hear how upon asking this question to various groups, Gaunt and his team were getting the same response.

Second, Humanity Needs A New Definition

The second takeaway I had from this event was spurred on by another panel called “Tech + Social Impact” where panelists just talked about their projects and discussed the future:

There was one comment which hit the nail on the head and it was by Ashley Stroud Phillips on how

“we need to redefine work for humanity…people know what a nurse role looks like…they know what it is and how to pick that role for their career. But, what about a Data Scientist?”

Photo Credit: Sarah Sharif (L to R, order in panel names above)

Phillips touched upon a critical point which we often miss. The jobs and roles of the past are changing (not that nurses won’t be around, but I’m highly confident as technology evolves, their workflow will also shift), the workforce demographics are changing, but this all an exciting opportunity.

I’m in a role and in a niche part of Innovation which is still scaling and still defining itself —I love the fact that I’m part of something entirely different. I know my heart tells me that this space is exactly where I’m supposed to be for all the major changes coming down the pipeline.

But all of this doesn’t have to be scary. I’m going to repeat that this is an opportunity. We have a chance to literally redefine work and our lifestyles. I, for one, am all about balance and finding the work which sparks joy. (Hah!)

Already, remote and freelance opportunities are freeing up time for people to spend extra time with their children versus being stuck in hours in a heavy commute or having time to cook a healthier meal instead of microwaving. We need more time and there are ways to accommodate for it. Last, but not least, the environment will improve once we change our lifestyles.

Christer Johansson, Boel Lövenheim, Peter Schantz, Lina Wahlgren, Peter Almström, Anders Markstedt, Magnus Strömgren, Bertil Forsberg, Johan Nilsson Sommar authored a paper called Impacts on air pollution and health by changing commuting from car to bicycle which was a study conducted in Sweden. They concluded that this active change in how people were commuting was actually improve lives by the extra years.

Photo Credit: Elsevier

One-Phrase-Recap: Humanity wants to become better at humanity.

We want to be better connected through language, through mobility, through our work, and we want to redefine what it means to work with purpose. We are not machines, products, consumers, but humans who deserve the chance to live fulfilled lives at our highest potential.

If you have questions about the event or wish to participate in their future sessions, feel free to contact them directly. I want to thank all of the speakers/partners/sponsors/organizers of the event!

Experimental Civics

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We design spaces for people to experiment with their ideas. experimentalcivics.io

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