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This community-wide blog showcases blogs by APF members on topics they select. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this section belong solely to the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of APF.

 

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A day in the life of a futurist Part II

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 11, 2017
Updated: Saturday, March 9, 2019

At least two of our members have written and reflected on a day in their life. You can view Part 1 here. This post is written by Bryan Alexander for his own blogThe views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of the APF or its members.

People often ask what I do as an educational futurist.  As one answer I thought I’d share a kind of diary, to give a sense of the practical work and life.

6:30 am – rise later than usual, due to a cold and the insistence of two cats.  Check the weather outside by walking around a bit and consulting Wunderground (around 40 F; cloudy).  One of the cats charges outside for morning patrol.  Then I head back inside to start my morning news routine.

That means working through Google News, HackerNews, Inside Higher Ed, Twitter, Facebook, plus a quick scan of overnight emails for newsletters and stories forwarded by loyal readers.  I save several tabs for later rereading and possible actions.  I also note some potential details for trends: Microsoft might be aiming a light, cloud-based laptop for the K-12 market (mobile; web office; cloud computing); controversy over a sociologist visiting a liberal arts college (campus race politics; student activism); critical article about Blackboard’s strategy and reputation (LMS changes);

7:45 – 8:30 am – make coffee for Ceredwyn and bring it to her.  Make myself breakfast and eat while reading RSS feeds.

8:30 – 9:00 am – revise some presentation materials for this week.  Note some arguments among friends on Facebook.

9:00 – 9:30 am – pack for this week’s trips.  My wife talks with me about her very cool new novel project.  Our son staggers awake (he’s on vacation), and I keep one eye on him as he successfully makes himself breakfast.

9:30 – 9:45 am – share one interesting and potentially future-oriented news story across social media:

My goal in doing this is to elicit feedback; that use of social media is something I’ve been doing for years.  This morning, my own assessment of this particular project is too tentative.

9:45 – 10:00 am – Ceredwyn and I invoice two clients for this week’s operations, and discuss other financial issues.

10:00 – 10:30 – drive to nearby town in search of decent bandwidth.  No, business class Fairpoint service is neither fast nor reliable enough for me to run a webinar with assurance.

10:30 – 11:00 – set up for webinar in local public library.  Check in with organizers and make sure the tech is running. Answer emails from people concerning presentations tomorrow and Thursday.  Reply to interview query.  Discuss one professional futurists’ organization by email.

11:00 – 12:00 noon – conduct webinar for one new client.  Internet connection is solid.

Noon – 12:30 pm – grab this book from the library’s ILL service, then head off to our bank for a deposit, and then to the post office up the mountain.

12:30 pm – 5:00 pm – drive from Vermont to Boston.  At best this can take less than four hours, but I get clobbered by the city’s traffic, as ever:

90 minutes to cross 2/3rds of this cursed town.

Along the way I listen to a variety of podcasts.  Once, in New Hampshire, I stop for a phone interview.  Several times I stop to check email and social media.  Throughout the drive I meditate on virtual reality for education, the subject of Thursday’s workshop.

5:00 – 6:30 pm – check in at Logan, then get online to do some work, including this blog post.

7:00 – 9:00 pm – I’m scheduled to fly from Boston to Washington, DC.  Hopefully I’ll have room to do some writing.  If not, I’ll read about American populism and higher education.

Once in DC I’ll Metro to the hotel for tomorrow’s conference, get some work done, then fall asleep.

The most futuristic bit of today: weaving several ideas about the future of education and technology across multiple technologies, time zones, media, and nations.

The least futuristic bit: moving some pieces of wood onto another stack.  Or maybe it was holding Hunter, our biggest and fluffiest cat, very close before I left.  He hates when I leave.

Tags:  futurist  professionalization  work 

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The Future of Work, Freshmen Edition

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Updated: Saturday, March 9, 2019

The following is a member post written by Christopher Kent and originally posted by the blog of Foresight Alliance. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of the APF. 

I had the opportunity—and pleasure—to speak to incoming freshmen at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. The topic was the future of work, with a look at how changes happening today will be reshaping work for not only these students, but all workers. I was joined by representatives from Deloitte, KPMG, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Right off the bat I was impressed, as I don’t believe I would have sought out a seminar called “Tomorrowland” during freshman orientation week. But I was further impressed with both their attention to detail, as well as the well-thought-out ideas they already had vis-à-vis their careers. One person I talked to was interested in finding ways to deliver electricity to under-served communities at affordable prices. Another came to the session with an interest in being a futurist and I succeeded in not dissuading him from this ambition.

It was an interesting day, filled with lively discussion and engaged minds. A+, would do it again.

If you are interested, my presentation is linked below. Click on notes view when it opens to see my comments.

Foresight Alliance–Tomorrowland

Also, you can read the full report, The Futures of Work, or a report overview.

Tags:  future  job  work 

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What construction jobs will look like when robots can build things

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 4, 2014
Updated: Friday, March 8, 2019

The following is a member post by George Quezada. This blog post is cross-posted from the blog of Data61, an APF organizational member, and was originally published by The Conversation. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of the APF or its members.

By 2034/35, almost 20% of Australians (6.2 million) are projected to be aged 65 or over. One sector already feeling the impact of the ageing population is construction. In Queensland, the number of construction workers aged 55 and over increased from 8% of full-time workers in 1992 to 14.2% in 2014.

An ageing workforce is likely to increase the need for less physically demanding jobs or maybe technology might address this issue. Task automation and the industry’s innovation culture are two of the greatest areas of uncertainty for the construction industry.

A new study that developed evidence-based scenarios for 2036, depicts how automation and manufacturing could grow in the construction sector, creating more knowledge-intensive jobs as a result.

The study explores future technology that eliminates dangerous and difficult tasks, particularly in light of the ageing workforce.

Experts in the industry were asked the extent to which technology would progress and how many or which tasks could be automated. There was no consensus on this and the other point of contention between the interviewees was how bold the industry would be in its pursuit of new solutions.

The research did suggest the construction workforce will need a broad understanding of digital applications, in addition to traditional project management and communication skills.


Construction jobs of the future

The trends analysis and scenario development in the report produced some examples of possible construction industry jobs in the year 2036, including:

Building assembly technician

Someone who oversees robotic systems and examines data feeds throughout the life of a project. This worker would optimise workflows and make adjustments on real-time feedback from clients about design or changes to materials.

Virtual/augmented reality trainers

Breakthroughs in virtual and augmented reality technology could provide low-cost immersive environments where apprentices and trainers can meet virtually in any training situation, such as worksite, factory, design studio – the possibilities are endless.

Building drone operators

These professionals would control and program drones to carry out complex tasks such as site inspections, deliveries, and maintenance.

Robot resource manager

Robots in the workplace will need someone to take care of commissioning, software programming, maintenance and re-purposing or recycling of robotic parts. Keeping track of this exploding field of technology will be a key challenge for the role.

Other opportunities

The Australian construction industry is changing with the introduction of digital collaboration platforms, like Building Information Modelling (BIM), robot machine prototypes such as the Fastbrick robot and rapid progress in 3D printing capabilities. These innovations will need more people skilled in the use of software programs and fewer people for labour-intensive jobs such as bricklaying or paving.

BIM is software that creates a 3D visualisation of a building. However, it extends beyond 3D imaging to show scheduling, cost control, facility management and energy performance monitoring. The UK government has mandated that all centrally funded work is to be undertaken using BIM by April 2016 and the Queensland government has stated that it will progressively implement the use of BIM into all major state infrastructure projects by 2023. As workers’ skills in BIM increase in Australia, the improved cost and time saving will drive customers to demand that projects are managed in this way.

Already, in the Netherlands, the company MX3D is using 6-axis industrial robots to print a fully functional steel bridge. Contour Crafting technology, a process invented at the University of Southern California, has great potential for automating the construction of whole structures as well as sub-components and a company in China is using 3D printing to build houses.

The manufacturing part of the construction industry is expected to grow at 5% per annum out to 2023, compared to a growth rate of 2.3% for the industry as a whole. While the current prefabricated building market in Australia is still comparatively small, with only A$4.5 billion of the total A$150 billion construction industry, it is expected to contribute to more affordable housing stock and to take a much greater share of creating multi-storey buildings.

The nature of construction work is set for a step change over the next 20 years and careful strategic thinking is needed to navigate the changes.

The changes will require humans to exercise judgement and decision-making that reflects human values and aspirations; a task that is well beyond the most advanced artificial intelligence systems.

George Quezada, Research Scientist, Data61, CSIRO

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Tags:  construction  job  work 

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