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This article is an excerpt from a report by Partners in Foresight, The Home of the 2020s: Scenarios for How We Might Live in the Post-Pandemic Future.

Scenario Vignette 1: Hotel Life

Hotels and abandoned malls become pandemic-proof senior citizen communities

Travel and retail sectors were never the same after the 2020 disruptions. It was not that they never recovered, but they were never the same.

By 2030, a glut of abandoned real estate (hotel, entertainment, and retail that had succumbed to economic pressures of the pandemic) had become gradually renovated to accommodate a growing North American retirement population. They borrowed pandemic-proofing ideas from communities in China built in response to COVID-19 and retrofitted blueprints of housing designed for Mars colonization. Futuristic concepts were thrown at a single social problem: how to build safe, sustainable, and economical retirement communities and nursing homes.

The living arrangement could provide adventure, allowing for a surprising variety of movement and mobility. Hotels became more like timeshares where residents would move (in clusters, aka “pods”) from place to place, seasonally sometimes. The once-thriving international tourism economy still sputtered in 2030, but groups of older Americans revitalized the classic recreational hotspots of the 20th century (Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Great Smoky Mountains). Older people who had survived had become precious members of society after the pandemic and they were seen as honored guests at all national landmarks.

For less mobile seniors, outdated malls were transformed to indoor cities with clinics, exercise trails, and community kitchens all within hundreds of steps of where seniors slept in dormitory-like rooms. Green renovations to the buildings themselves allowed for indoor gardening/farms and many of the cooperatives had a net-zero impact thanks to effective sustainable design elements. Senior citizens were well-looked after by respectful physicians, social workers, and health care professionals in these settings. Young people often volunteered to help out. There was recreation and education for all ages and abilities, and it was given freely to anyone over age 65. The operations were fully funded by taxes (US $0.01) on e-commerce retail transactions.

Scenario Vignette 2: Unschooling Crusaders

A generation embraces homeschooling in lockdown

Edgar is a 15-year-old American boy who, for as long as he could remember, has been homeschooled by his parents who were working from home.

They never dropped him off in a school carpool line or packed him a lunch to eat away from home. Instead, the entire family found a different rhythm in the wake of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. Edgar was only five years old in 2020, so he lacks memory of a time before his parents worked at home and helped him take online classes.

In his early teenage years, Edgar’s interests began to surpass any existing online school curriculum. His parents transitioned him to an unschooling approach, letting Edgar pursue his passions rather than a pre-established curriculum. With his parents’ support, Edgar is now planning to enter college early and has started a nonprofit organization to support ecological and social justice.

A lot of kids in Edgar’s generation discovered unschooling because of the pandemic. It wasn’t just the healthcare systems that were overwhelmed in 2020 America; public school systems were, too. Edgar and some of his peers were lucky to have parents that worked from home during the lockdowns. Their classmates that didn’t have such privilege lost everything when schools closed. Some fell behind academically, some got sick, and some disappeared completely. Many of their parents worked in retail, restaurants, travel, and various “essential” jobs.

Unschoolers like Edgar were actually drawn to unschooling when they noticed the vastly different experiences they and their friends had in their early years even though they were in the same public school systems at the time. Unschooling, an unlikely school reform movement, was on its way by 2030…with young people in charge of their own learning.

Scenario Vignette 3: Corporate Coliving

Class of 2030 MBA grad moves into a communal home sponsored by her employer

After the pandemic, the US higher education system was a disaster. Student loans had been forgiven and eliminated by 2025 and a lot of new options to finance college had appeared.

A student called Haley opted for the sponsorship route — the Big4 consulting group had prescreened students from her high school and Haley had been selected to be sponsored at a university and housed after graduation. All she had to do was accept a 10-year assignment with Big4 after college at a subsistence salary (45% less than a non-coliving salary), and all her living expenses would be covered. Even in college and throughout grad school all of Haley’s meal, housing, and transportation expenses were subsidized by the corporation which she’d later call work and home. Part of the way the company paid the tuition of their future employees was by eliminating office space altogether.

They’d once occupied vast and palatial offices in urban centers around the globe. Instead, Big4 had put their money into coliving/coworking spaces starting in 2020. Having early access to the talent pipeline ensured a smooth transition and, as a plus, kept training costs down. Housing and feeding employees had shown to be a much better business proposition than generous salaries, according to the Big4 shareholders.

Haley daydreamed on her way to meet a date at the café. Although she’d been out of the bubble a few times, she mostly stayed within a group of coworkers with similar jobs, upbringings, and educational backgrounds. It dawned on her now that coliving, which sprung from the economic and psychological aftermath of COVID-19, could seem highly social but was actually incredibly isolating. She remembered a popular meme she had seen often as a teen during the 2020 lockdown that showed a flustered figure standing in a messy room, asking: “Am I working at home or living at work?” Even in 2030, no one knew the answer.

View the full report The Home of the 2020s: Scenarios for How We Might Live in the Post-Pandemic Future:

Are Administrative/Executive Assistants (EA)/Personal Assistants (PA) already living in the future as new technology hits the workplace?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most disruptive technologies affecting today’s business environment. Explosive developments, funding and support for increasing the role of AI in all sectors, and across all job roles seem to be a key driver of the future of business. The impact of AI over the next decade is expected to completely transform the landscape, and no industry, or job, will be left untouched.

Jobs are among the chief concerns whenever the topic of AI is mentioned. Most people have by now heard that “robots are coming” for jobs, and that mass unemployment is “inevitable” in our collective future. But, some jobs could be transformed for the better with the rise of smart technologies making routine work easier, allowing people to focus on the job elements that they can really add value to. For that reason, we suggest that the Administrative/Executive Assistant (EA)/Personal Assistant (PA) of 2025 will not be replaced by technology, but rather, enhanced by it.

In many ways, the future is already here. Though the Admins/EAs/PAs are indeed job roles which are already being affected by AI, there is ample evidence to show that the future outlook is actually quite good as a benefit of smart technology.

With that said, it is impossible to know for sure which jobs will be eliminated within the next 10 years. However, given the quickly changing technological conditions, and with AI evolving every single day, it seems that if the Admins/EAs/PAs role remains on the job market in 2025, AI will change it significantly, and for the better.

Even more exciting, it is possible that AI will create more occasions in Admin/EA and PA work where the requirement to demonstrate uniquely human skills and capabilities will be emphasised over technology. All this points to a potentially exciting transformation for the Admin/EA/PA role.

The Past

Artificial intelligence has already radically changed the role of the Admins/EAs/PAs over the last 10 years. The changes have been even more significant than the introduction of personal computers and the smartphone combined, but possibly less obvious. A close look at the sort of things the admin job holder used to do exclusively, like typing memos and letters, scheduling meetings, booking travel, and making reservations shows that AI has already replaced nearly all of those tasks.

The Present

The responsibilities which Admins/EAs/PAs are likely to perform include acting as a first point of contact, dealing with correspondence and phone calls, managing diaries and organising meetings and appointments. At times the job can even involve controlling access to a manager or executive. Another key area includes booking and arranging travel, transport and accommodation.

Already, several applications and systems exist which can take over some of those tasks. For example, personal assistant can help schedule meetings. Voice recognition typing software can be used to send messages without Admins/EAs/PAs involvement. Voice recognition has replaced the need to type just about anything; an AI not only records the words spoken, but also optimises grammar and any emphasis required. It also translates any message into an alternative language, in real time if required.

The Future: The Admin/EA/PA of 2025

Yes, AI personal assistants will likely take on the more routine tasks away from human executive assistants—in fact, this is already transpiring. However, in the future, admin jobs filled by human workers shall not be completely erased: Humans will be available, but at a premium. Such admin positions would require more specialized training where people skills, insightful knowledge in specific domains and counselling would meet. The employees in these roles might also need to efficiently interact with AIs and augmented humans, which is a new skill that many people would have to learn in any job in 2025.

Gaining a better understanding for data is another area where Admins/EAs/PAs may have to adapt to the role of AI in their jobs. For example, seamless data flows will allow AI tools to access the diaries of multiple colleagues and perfectly schedule meetings, freeing the employee to focus on more important, human-centric tasks like personally following up with important clients. It may be important to increase the understanding of data analytics among some Admins/EAs/PAs to know when to apply a human touch. Technical knowledge to complete most tasks may become unnecessary, but a clear understanding of the limitations and capabilities of big data might give some workers an edge. Furthermore, programming skills (at least a fundamental understanding) could give some in the role the advantaged ability to customize how the data gets crunched, personalising the benefits of technology to their client or projects.

As an example of how to use AI to enhance the human element at work, imagine a specialized meeting planning algorithm that uses basic information about a meeting (attendees, venue options, timing, and catering requirements). An AI-powered digital assistant could access the required attendees’ diaries and public personal data, resolve any conflicts, make the room reservation, and automatically order the appropriate catering. In this scenario, the detailed leg work being done by AI should help avoid any mistakes or errors on the financial and logistical side, while a human employee overseeing the entire process would be there to provide a personal touch as needed. It is even possible that algorithmically-curated seating arrangements designed to avoid personality clashes among meeting attendees, based on insights drawn by trawling participants’ social media accounts could become common place.

AI is evolving so quickly that, within a few years, there could be similar applications which book the travel and hotels for executives intuitively. Within ten years a digital assistant could do everything to meet travel and hotel preferences of the executive including airline, flight times, departure and arrival airport, transfers, hotel chain. All while maximising traveller reward schemes during the reservation and payment. All that would be needed to do is for a admin to determine when, where and for how long the business executive would like to travel and input all requirements to one device (like Alexa or Google smart). The smart AI assistant would find the best option available for the price. Passport details and payment would be already saved in the system. Once the AI generated a list of available options, arrangements would be approved by a human assistant, then AI could make the booking. Rather than perform rote tasks in this future, Admins/EAs/PAs are the conduit for AI that can intuitively anticipate needs and maximise benefits/minimise cost and inconvenience. The objective for admins in this future is not to make travel arrangements, but to make sure there’s a world-life and human-machine balance.

Another change we may see is development of careers within one single industry, as it becomes key for Admins/EAs/PAs to know the business inside out. So, there might be a job opening for “finance PA” or one that works exclusively with food industry executives. Specialization to the industry would be a by-product of the fact that people in the role place increasing emphasis on relationships. If most routine information is being handled by AI, the future of work in these jobs is really about people skills. Also, specialized knowledge and experience could be highly valued, perhaps ensuring abundant job offers that revolve around one field.

Another twist in the future of admin jobs could be that Admins/EAs/PAs work on call and become paid for specific tasks. Temporary workers or fill-ins on the job could use AI to access or “upload” the knowledge base and even institutional memory and history about what they need to know to cover for a specific person, say in the case of maternity leave. This line of developments follows the trends toward the sharing economy and taskification, embodied by Uber, AirBnB and Task Rabbit—disruptors whose time has come (and possibly gone), although their imprint on future business models may linger. Admins/EAs/PAs may experience better job prospects in the gig economy, although work stability would be an issue. It is possible that Admin/EA/PA work would become a “side job” in the face of massive unemployment cuts, similar to the Uber driver or task worker.

One wider social trend driving the future of Admins/EAs/PAs employment is that the job market and people’s perception of the work environment has changed massively in past years. Telecommuting numbers keep rising: every year more directors and managers prefer to work at home or remotely than commute to crowded offices. Assuming this trend continues to grow over the next 10 years, would more people working remotely in the future reduce number of admins needed in the workforce? Or increase the potential for admin employment due to flexibility and possibly taking on multiple clients, projects and roles? There may be good potential for entrepreneurially-minded entrants to Admin/EA/PA work, which may serve as a form of insurance in terms of employment instability wrought by artificial intelligence, maybe using AI to help deliver effective and human contract admin support to executives in the form of a company with sector-experienced PAs offered to client companies on a fee per task basis.


The dominant trajectory for the future is where technology continues to undertake the more transactional type of work, and the future Admin/EA/PA is the executive’s relationship manager. In this future, the same way that many products and services have been commoditised and the premium value is in human to human relationships, the admin is focusing on relationships both inside and outside the organisation.

Today’s PA is already at a point where he or she has become fully representative of the executive’s brand and the organisation’s reputation. The skill set required by the job seems remarkably similar to that required by today’s successful executives. Listening, reasoning, collaborating, working in complex and uncertain situations, and empathy are critically important as Admins/EAs/PAs work to provide a more sophisticated type of support to the executive. PAs are no longer co-ordinators of a small compartment of business activities, but a relationship builder, a relationship developer and a partner to the executive. Ironically, the interpersonal skills required of people in these roles are becoming more essential as the job duties themselves are alleviated by technology tools. Tapping into the human element on the job will be what sets the Admin/EA/PA of the future apart from its AI rivals.

Image credit:

A version of this article appeared in 2018 Blueprint on the future role of the PA/EA.

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About The Authors

The authors are futurists with Fast Future who specialise in studying and advising on the impacts of emerging change. Fast Future also publishes books from future thinkers around the world exploring how developments such as AI, robotics and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, society and business and create new trillion-dollar sectors. Fast Future has a particular focus on ensuring these advances are harnessed to unleash individual potential and enable a very human future. See:

Rohit Talwar is a global futurist, keynote speaker, author, and CEO of Fast Future where he helps clients develop and deliver transformative visions of the future. He is the editor and contributing author for The Future of Business, editor of Technology vs. Humanity, and co-editor of a forthcoming book on Unleashing Human Potential–The Future of AI in Business.

Steve Wells is the COO of Fast Future and an experienced Strategist, Futures Analyst, and Partnership Working Practitioner. He is a co-editor of The Future of Business, Technology vs. Humanity, and a forthcoming book on Unleashing Human Potential–The Future of AI in Business.

April Koury is a foresight researcher, writer, and publishing director at Fast Future. She is a contributor to The Future of Business, and a co-editor of Technology vs. Humanity, and a forthcoming book on 50:50–Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.

Alexandra Whittington is the foresight director at Fast Future. She is a futurist, writer, and faculty member on the Futures programme at the University of Houston. She is a contributor to The Future of Business and a co-editor for forthcoming books on Unleashing Human Potential–The Future of AI in Business and 50:50–Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.

Maria Romero is a futurist and foresight researcher with Fast Future. A recent graduate from the University of Houston Master in Foresight, Maria has worked on projects for consultants, NGOs, for-profit organisations, and government clients. She is currently working on a study of AI in business.

Karolina Dolatowska is the service manager at Fast Future. She is currently studying Business English while managing several publishing and financial projects at Fast Future.

What are new practice areas that solo, small, and medium firms should prepare for in their 5 to 10-year plans for the future?

In the search for the next wave of growth, future-focused law firms are learning to embrace the futurist perspective as they evaluate the opportunities arising from cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). These technologies will enable new organizational structures, services, and business models in the business horizon. Here are three new practice areas that firms might want to prepare for in the coming few years.

1. Evidence and liability issues from autonomous machine “testimony”

A growing array of “smart” objects are enveloping our homes, workplaces, and communities and the volume of legally admissible data from these devices is likely grow at an exponential rate over the next decade. Firms need to start building expertise around the admissibility and verifiability of the data collected. For example, the design trend for voice-activated technology is driving a rash of seemingly sentient technology in the form of digital assistants, smart appliances, and personal medical and wearable devices. Law firms may be asked to represent clients in cases dealing with evidence, witnesses, accidents, or contracts hinging on theoretically immutable digital proof such as time-stamped video and audio recordings. Attorneys may seek to specialize in addressing the data issues related to domains such as digital twins and personas, surveillance capitalism (companies exploiting customer data for commercial gain with and without full approval), and digital privacy rights.

2. Liability from AI denial of service, access, or unfair treatment

AI has already been applied in the redemptive justice system in the U.S. and by companies such as Amazon in recruitment systems. In both cases respectively, AI has been found to treat people of color and women unfairly. Despite issues surrounding bias, AI is likely to be employed increasingly in such contentious areas by companies, organizations, and institutions. Applications might include determining an individual’s access rights to healthcare plans, benefits, insurance, school choice, and jobs. If AI denies access to services, this opens up potential litigation opportunities. Legal firms will have to equip themselves with the necessary tech-savvy staff and tools in order to be able to demonstrate that the machine or its algorithm were unfair in their decision-making. Furthermore, if these cases become commonplace, governments may demand that AI systems are vetted before their implementation. Law firms could provide a new service to clients by playing a future role in evaluating the fairness and potential legal liability associated with such AI systems.

3. Machine-mediated dispute resolution

In the future, law may be administered autonomously. For example, an electronic Decentralized Arbitration and Mediation Network (DAMN) has already been implemented. The system is an open-source dispute resolution framework for smart contracts executed on a blockchain. The technology allows smart contracts to transcend national borders as it provides its own legal framework. Therefore, if the parties involved agree to use the DAMN, then they are already agreeing to a specific legal framework, making it a far more efficient process from the start.

A key potential problem that arises from a law firm’s choice to utilise and offer out such technology for client use is that the firm runs the risk of cannibalizing existing revenues. The technology would most likely be offered as a subscription service that would cost far less than traditional arbitration services. However, this revenue loss might be balanced out by the fact it would cost a client far less than traditional mediation service and could therefore attract more customers in the long term. A key practice opportunity here might lie in advising clients on which automated contract and dispute resolution system to and in managing the process on their behalf.

A version of this article originally appeared in ABA Law Practice Management

About the Authors

The authors are futurists with Fast Future who specialise in studying and advising on the impacts of emerging change. Fast Future also publishes books from future thinkers around the world exploring how developments such as AI, robotics and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, society and business and create new trillion-dollar sectors. Fast Future has a particular focus on ensuring these advances are harnessed to unleash individual potential and enable a very human future. See:

Rohit Talwar is a global futurist, keynote speaker, author, and CEO of Fast Future where he helps clients develop and deliver transformative visions of the future. He is the editor and a contributing author for The Future of Business, editor of Technology vs. Humanity, and co-editor of a forthcoming book on Unleashing Human Potential–The Future of AI in Business.

Steve Wells is the COO of Fast Future and an experienced Strategist, Futures Analyst, and Partnership Working Practitioner. He is a co-editor of The Future of Business, Technology vs. Humanity, and a forthcoming book on Unleashing Human Potential–The Future of AI in Business.

Alexandra Whittington is a futurist, writer, faculty member on the Futures programme at the University of Houston, and foresight director at Fast Future. She is a contributor to The Future of Business and a co-editor for forthcoming books on Unleashing Human Potential–The Future of AI in Business and 50:50–Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.

Image credit: by suc

For millennials and the generations to follow, the future will differ radically from their parents’ world. Massively powerful digital technologies will bring seismic changes in the lifestyles, opportunities, privileges and choices experienced by young people compared to their parents.

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Self Driving Cars and Ethics. It’s a topic that has been debated in blogs, op-eds, academic research papers, and youtube videos. Everyone wants to know, if a self-driving car has to choose between sacrificing its occupant, or terminating a car full of nobel prize winners, who will it pick? Will it be programmed to sacrifice for the greater good, or protect itself — and its occupants — at all costs? But in the swirl of hypothetical discussion around jaywalking Grandmas, buses full of school-children, Kantian Ethics and cost-maps, one crucial question is being forgotten:

What about the Squirrels?

What is your take on the ethics of driverless vehicles? Should programmers attempt to give vehicles the ability to weigh moral problems, or just vehicles only have the aim of self-preservation?

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Exponential Fever. The business world is currently gripped by exponential fever. The concept came to prominence with Moore’s law — the doubling every 18–24 months of the amount of computer power available for $1,000. The phenomenon has since been replicated in many fields of science and technology. We now see the speed, functionality and performance of a range of technologies growing at an exponential rate – encompassing everything from data storage capacity and video download speed to the time taken to map a genome and the cost of producing a laboratory grown hamburger.

New Pretenders. A wave of new economy businesses has now brought exponential thinking to bear in transforming assumptions about how an industry works. For example, AirBnB handles roughly 90 times more bedroom listings per employee than the average hotel group, while Tangerine Bank can service seven times more customers than a typical competitor. In automotive, by adopting 3D printing, Local Motors can develop a new car model 1,000 times cheaper than traditional manufacturers, with each car coming ‘off the line’ 5 to 22 times faster. In response, businesses in literally every sector are pursuing exponential improvement in everything from new product development and order fulfillment through to professional productivity and the rate of revenue growth.

Stepping Up. For law firms, the transformation of other sectors and their accompanying legal frameworks creates a massive growth opportunity, coupled with the potential to bring similar approach to rethinking the way law firms operate. While some might be hesitant about applying these disruptive technologies internally, there is a clear opportunity to be captured from helping clients respond to these developments and from the creation of the industries of the future. To help bring to life the possibilities within legal, we highlight seven scenarios that illustrate how exponential change could transform law firms over the next 5 to 10 years.

Rise of the ‘Exponential Circle’. Our continuing programme of research on the future of law firms suggests that we will see exponential growth for those firms who can both master the legal implications of these technologies for their clients and become adept at their application within the firm. By 2025, we could indeed have witnessed the emergence of an Exponential Circle of law firms who have reached ‘escape velocity’ and left the rest behind.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents both the biggest opportunity and potentially the greatest threat to the legal profession in history.

This is part of a bigger global revolution – where society, business and government are likely to experience more change in the next 20–30 years than in the last 500.

This large-scale disruption is being driven by the combined effects of AI and other disruptive technologies whose speed, power and capability are growing exponentially – or faster.

These technologies, which are all are fed by AI, include quantum computing, blockchain technology, the internet of things (IoT), big data, cloud services, smart cities, and human augmentation. All of these could be hundreds or thousands of times more powerful within a decade.

The resulting changes mean the total transformation of every business sector, the birth of new trillion dollar industries and a complete rethink of law, regulation, legal infrastructures, and the supporting governance systems for every activity on the planet.

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In our last film, we explored how the introduction of autonomous, self-driving cars is likely to kill a lot of jobs. Many millions of jobs, in fact. But is it short sighted to view self-driving vehicles as economic murderers? Is it possible that we got it totally wrong, and automated vehicles won’t be Grim Reapers — but rather the biggest job creators since the internet?

In this video series, the Galactic Public Archives takes bite-sized looks at a variety of terms, technologies, and ideas that are likely to be prominent in the future. Terms are regularly changing and being redefined with the passing of time. With constant breakthroughs and the development of new technology and other resources, we seek to define what these things are and how they will impact our future.

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