Predicting the future is a tricky business. There have been countless ridiculous failures at identifying the trends and products which will determine the future shape of our life and our environment. Even more difficult is trying to guess which of us will be deemed a useful member of the community – and which an obsolete relic. To a large extent, the answer to this question lies in determining the useful professions of the future. This is an age when people are determined, defined and categorized in strict accordance with their professions. Whereas during the Renaissance, a person might have been defined by his range of interests (remember the likes of Leonardo da Vinci), by his familial, religious, or ethnic affiliations, by his or her gender and so on – today the first and foremost question is a person's profession. The first question that we must provide a clear answer to is: What constitutes a profession (as opposed to a hobby), a vocation (as opposed to an avocation)? To qualify as a profession, the act must bear the following hallmarks:
It must be continuous and pursued for a long time.
It must occupy most of the waking hours.
It must yield earnings or compensation whether in money or in kind.
The person must have an advantage in that field of knowledge or activity, at least over laymen. In other words, the categories of laymen and expert – which are the result of highly specific education – must exist and prevail.
It must be hierarchically layered with clear flows of professional authorities and responsibilities and with a clear career path (progressing up the professional ladder).
The second relevant question is: What are the trends which determine our future? It is useless to look at microtrends. These are too volatile and, in principle, unpredictable. Much more important are the trends that last for hundreds or even thousands of years. These are usually not the results of technological conjuncture or geopolitical upheavals. Rather, they are the outcomes of characteristic human activities which are uninterrupted. Healthcare, for instance, is such a human activity. Humans – terrified of death and infirmity – always wanted and are very likely to continue to want to improve their health and thus to postpone the inevitable and better the quality of what is available. Another such overriding tendency is education: this is a part of the human survival kit. By educating oneself, by studying a profession, by learning more about the world – one better one's chances to survive. Out of this set of human, almost deterministic activities, a group of overriding trends emerges: