Dear Dad: A Letter from a Brighter Future
Published on September 30, 2019
Rohit Talwar – Futurist
By Rohit Talwar and Katharine Barnett
How might emerging generations embrace an optimistic technology-enabled future?
Millennials and the generations that follow them are facing and shaping a radically different future from their parents’ world. Powerful digital technologies are poised to bring seismic changes in lifestyles, opportunities, privileges, and choices experienced by young people compared to their ancestors. This letter from the future draws on some of those key developments to give dads a glimpse of what’s over the horizon and what they should prepare themselves and their children for.
As I send you this message from December 31st 2030, here are some things I want you to anticipate and tell me about while I’m still young enough to listen to you! In short, the world has transformed because of exponentially improving digital technologies that are coming together to change every aspect of our lives.
Everything and everyone is hyper-connected; all the big internet systems that dominate our lives talk to each other and combine our data—social behavior, viewing preferences, purchasing information, and other activities—so we get tailored content, news, and products. I’ve saved a huge amount of time because I started to watch only the shows that match my interests and preferences. The data gathered about us and our movements is used in so many different ways to help enhance every aspect of our lives—although you might think that intrusive. For example, our whereabouts data is also processed by artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to help predict, pre-empt, and prevent crime. Moreover, when combined with data from traffic, construction areas, police, and planning departments, it can highlight possible danger zones and suggest ways to make them safer.
While all this surveillance has raised privacy concerns, the benefits more than compensate for the risks. I never worry where the kids are or if they are safe. I can see where they’ve been, track their location, and predict where they might be going on my holographic display mobile device. The new connectivity era has made constant interaction normal; the boundaries between private and public have been blurred—we are always in touch with others in some way.
I have an intelligent digital assistant (IDA); it lives in the cloud and accumulates all my data. It carries out everyday tasks, from booking a restaurant to searching for a travel route, to even updating my doctor with my health status. Dad, I want you to know that there’s been a revolution in healthcare. Now I don’t need to concern myself with conditions like high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.
Personal health devices use nanotechnology, AI, and a wealth of web-based bio-tools to help manage our wellbeing. They don’t just diagnose and treat illnesses, they also identify the underlying causes of conditions years before they appear and help prevent them. I have nano-devices medicine in my bloodstream, waiting to be activated to remove cancerous cells, perform tissue repair, or release drugs when needed. Again, I know you might think that this is invasive and doesn’t give us healthcare choices, but Dad, you won’t have to worry about remembering to take your medications—it’s such a weight off our minds.
Almost everything has been automated—blue collar and white collar jobs have been taken over by machines. The traditional notion of working for a living has all but disappeared, and I have the option to work if I want to. This technological revolution has funded the provision of universal basic income (UBI) and universal basic services (UBS) for anyone that wants them. I never need to worry about paying the bills or the mortgage. There is so much freedom to pursue enjoyable activities, sports, and hobbies. I can watch the kids play football, drive to the countryside, or work on some DIY—without worrying about upcoming deadlines at work.
Burn out, anxiety, and stress are pretty much things of the past. Dad, you would really enjoy our lifestyles. This work revolution has changed our social system, too. Healthy life spans and UBI have negated the need for retirement plans—my family and I are going to live healthily into our nineties with a secure income. I don’t have to worry about a retirement plan! It’s wonderful to know that we can spend so much more time with our families and loved ones; I think I’m even going to get to see my great-great grandchildren.
Things in 2030 have transformed so dramatically, and all the things I can see and experience are so radically different from my childhood. Dad I know you think that these changes are extreme and revolutionary, but they are so wonderful that I must share them with you. The future is, quite literally, awesome.
I can’t wait to see what you do with the information.
- How might different societies and governments react to receiving this information about the future?
- How might such an optimistic image of the future encourage people to shape their aspirational choices?
- Which aspects of the future are most and least appealing to you personally, and which would most enhance your life?