Futurist Marcel Bullinga participated in a Delphi survey of 300 global experts about the Future of Work in 2050 by the State of the Future Milennium Project. The questions are clear, the answers are not. Will future technologies (AI, robots and such) create more jobs than they destroy? Will it increase the global income gap? Will a basic income be necessary? Here are the Preliminary results summer 2015 (contributions anonimised)

Findings of this Delphi survey in State of the Future

The latest edition of The Millennium Project’s annual State of the Future series includes the results of the group’s Delphi survey on the future of work, which focuses particularly on the impacts of technology on the workplace and workforce.

Synthetic biology, computational science, nanotechnology, quantum computing, 3-D printing, the Internet of Things, self-driving vehicles, robotics, and other developments “will have fundamental impacts on the nature of work, economics, and culture by 2050,” write Jerome C. Glenn andElizabeth Florescu in the chapter titled “Future Work/Technology 2050 Real-Time Delphi Study.”

Whether these developments will create more jobs than they destroy is debatable, but we are already seeing jobless economic growth as the new norm, as well as increasing concentration of wealth and widening income gaps and long-term structural unemployment as a “business as usual” scenario, the authors write.

The chapter presents the responses of the nearly 300 Delphi participants, predominantly North American and European professionals with “medium” to “high” levels of futures research expertise. Among the findings:

  • If current trends remain unchanged, average unemployment will grow to 11 percent by 2020 and to 24 percent by 2050.
  • Robotics is the technology rated most likely to replace more jobs than it creates.
  • Factors most likely to create jobs (or reduce mass unemployment) are new economic and work concepts and increased self-employment, freelancing, and DIY support systems.
  • Retraining programs for more-advanced skills and STEM requirements in all levels of education are the actions thought most likely to be deployed and to be effective for creating new employment or income by 2050.
  • A guaranteed lifetime income will be “absolutely necessary” or “very important” by 2050, according to more than half (59 percent) of the respondents.

The next step for the Delphi project, according to Glenn, “will be to write alternative scenarios and roadmaps to 2050.” The 2015-16 State of the Future also provides the latest trends on 28 indicators of progress and regress and updates the 15 Global Challenges.

Reference: 2015-16 State of the Future by Jerome C. Glenn, Elizabeth Florescu, and The Millennium Project Team (2015, The Millennium Project).

Signals: Delphi poll, economy, employment, technology, work