Predictions

The perils of prediction. In our modern age of social media, if you make a prediction for a short-term outcome like weather, and it doesn’t come true, you’re subject to criticism. The recent ‘threat to life’ weather predictions made by the Bureau of Meteorology didn’t happen on Friday night as forecast. Weather warnings were issued via the news, the Facebook posts of the State Premier, and by text message to state residents.

Some regional towns were evacuated but because we didn’t have catastrophic rains in the metropolitan areas to the extent we were warned of, the predictions are being mocked. This concerns me, not that the bureau made a big deal out of something that hasn’t happened as they said it would, it’s the weather! My concern is that if people become dismissive and stop heeding these warnings, it could have disastrous results.

It also brings to mind my own reluctance to step out on a limb and share my predictions. At the Future of Work conference on Tuesday the first keynote speaker was on a panel and asked about what he expected to see in the future, he refused to predict because “projections are notoriously inaccurate”. Another panellist responded with a different sentiment that I appreciated a lot. He said he’d like to think it’s an opportunity to talk about what you want to see happen. This resonated strongly with me.

It gave me more courage to share my insights on the future, and what I’d like to see happen. I’ve played with this a little in my recent posts on the Future of Marriage, the Future of the TAC and the Future of Lawns. This is the tip of the iceberg. I have a lot to say about the future I want to create, and the concerns I have that we’re not prepared for what’s coming. We are facing a massive shift in the labour market and the skills we’ll need to ride the wave of disruption are not highly valued, nor encouraged in our society, not to mention widely prevalent.

The biggest prediction I have is that we are likely to experience a significant psychological crisis as the wave crests and people are no longer defined by their role at work, their level of productivity or contribution to the economy. This will likely lead to existential crisis and destructive anti-social behaviour if we aren’t able to find a new sense of purpose and a place to belong in society.

Until then, let’s talk about the weather and criticise those predicting the weather, because that’s much easier. While that’s going on, I might start writing more about the future I’d like to see.

 

This is post 30 of 45 posts for 45 years.

Future of Work 2017

For the fourth year in a row, I attended the Future of Work conference, hosted by the Centre for Workplace Leadership. This year was very different, smaller scale, one day and on the University of Melbourne Campus. Last year it was at the picturesque Fed Square, and the two years previous, at the Melbourne Convention Centre, also known as Jeff’s Shed.

The funding for the first three years had come from the federal government as well as generous sponsors. This year, no federal funding, and limited sponsorship. Despite the different funding arrangement, it was a worthwhile experience and I was really glad I went.

A much greater focus on gender and diversity this year than in previous years, less about technology and disruptive innovation. I had several people say hello to me from seeing my tweets about the sessions and presenter quotes. My most active time on Twitter tends to be at conferences like this, and specifically this conference, over the last four years.

I had a few conversations with newbies, volunteers, staff and previous attendees. I also had a good chat with the previous director of the Centre for Workplace leadership, about his extended sabbatical, health and upcoming projects. In the past the events had become like family, this year with so many of the former crew not present, it was a different feel. At times I noticed myself feeling like it was a bit of talkfest, stuff we’d covered previously and not progressed, notably education and HR practices.

One session stood out, the YLAB crew talking about intergenerational workforces. Really walking the talk about how they engage young people and how they bring older and younger workers together. It was certainly the most interactive and interesting session. The final session with Michelle Ryan was also a highlight, debunking the myths about why women don’t get to the top or into leadership positions. Her research really looked beneath the assumptions and the ‘fix women’ approach. She also agreed to a podcast interview which is pretty exciting.

At the end I also got into a great conversation with a woman from BHP who was on the final panel and a guy who had recently taken over from a prominent career transition company, I had seen him approach speakers and felt suss but then when I actually spoke to him and heard that the first thing they check in on with a new client is wellbeing, that impressed me.

So much more to share and that will come, I wrote in my notebook, provided at registration, (yes, so analogue!) on each of the learnings from the sessions, and will share more as the concepts percolate.

 

This is post 28 of 45 posts for 45 years.

The Future of the TAC

Yesterday my partner got her vehicle registration notice. It includes a significant fee for the Traffic Accident Commission, 58% of what she pays goes to TAC. These funds go toward supporting victims of traffic crashes in the costs associated with recovering from traffic-related injury.

She noted that in the future when there are driverless cars, the need for this sort of fund will decrease. That the number of people dying or being injured on the roads will decrease with reduced human error. 

It might be hard to imagine self-driving cars being less accident prone but they are far more equipped to detect and respond to threats than our ability to process information on the road. Our brains only process 40 bits of information per second, computers by definition compute at a far faster rate than we do. Cars and driving them are huge parts of our identity, looking forward to getting your license when you’re young and dreading losing it when you’re old. It’s associated with freedom and independence.

Can you imagine the freedom of your car service picking you up and taking you to your destination like a taxi but without the stress of the potential for human error? Can you imagine having the option to choose a transport service that is social, where people actually talk to each other and want to talk to each other.

Can you imagine the point where the evidence of human error being so great that it starts a debate about if we should stop letting humans operate large machinery like cars? I wonder what will happen to the TAC then.

 

 

This post is day 21 of 45 posts for 45 years.

The Future of Lawns

It’s 2029 and the last holdouts are fighting for their right to have a lawn on their property. Their council has committed to being lawn-free by 2030 back in 2019.

Most of the rest of their neighbours took advantage of councils lawn transfer programs. Highly subsidised lawn alternatives such as mondo grass, native grasses and other herbaceous options had overwhelming uptake. 

Those who transferred their lawns to non-mow grasses and plants reported increased levels of satisfaction in not being obligated to spend time repeatedly trimming their grass and the reduced noise pollution (and air pollution) was also welcomed.

Some complaints of muddy yards were reported early on when residents were still learning how to effectively transfer to non-mow yards. Several local celebrities agreed to have their properties highlighted as a collective learning experience in both successful and unsuccessful transfers.

Can you imagine this future? What would it take?

This post is day 13 of 45 posts for 45 years.

The Future of Marriage

Today I’m taking a page out of “Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper” by SARK. She talks about using writing to create the future you want. I’ve been a bit disillusioned recently, and I want to write my way out of it.

I was pretty sure Australia wouldn’t vote for someone as horrible as Tony Abbott, I was wrong. I was pretty sure the US wouldn’t vote for someone as horrible as Donald Trump, I was wrong.

So when I think of how the vote will go to allow same-sex marriage in Australia, I am reserving my optimism. This sucks because I’m usually pretty optimistic. So if I let go of the concern that the vocal opponents, the ‘No voters’ are more numerous than expected, what is the future I want to create?

Marriage doesn’t rate highly for me. Of course I want the right to marry my partner, but actually doing it is up in the air. Family members saying they want us to marry is lovely, and it’s had us reconsider and talk about the possibility. And it gives me an opportunity to be less dismissive of it, to see the value in it.

But really, I’d prefer to see relationships take a different shape. In the future I envision, we don’t seek a mate for life. We may have a companion that’s by our side for long periods, decades even, but not to the exclusion of all others.

Especially if advances in biotech enable us to live longer lives, do we really want to use a principle for relationships that was established when our life expectancy was half what it is now? I imagine a free-flowing model of relationships that is more about mutual enjoyment and growing through connection, one where longevity isn’t a measurement of relationship success.

I imagine having many kinds of relationships, some platonic, some intimate, some sexual, some based on companionship, some on shared interests, some on circumstance and affinity. Can you imagine a deep sense of belonging from a long-held connection being as valued as the excitement of a new paramour? Can you imagine being free to explore, flirt, and connect with people as deeply or frivolously as you like?

In many ways, this is the antithesis of marriage, but maybe it will take on a new meaning. Maybe marriage will morph and change as everything does. Regardless, the first step is making it an equal access opportunity, for those who want it, and to legitimise our relationships instead of being on the fringe.

 

This post is day 19 of 45 posts for 45 years.