Predictions for 2018 and Beyond

Long-term trends that people involved in strategic planning should consider.

Posted Nov 13, 2017

Flickr, InfoWire, Public Domain
Source: Flickr, InfoWire, Public Domain

Wise decision-making in the workplace and outside requires considering not just short-term trends but longer-term ones.


Automation's impacts. Sure, more jobs are getting automated but the worry may be overblown, at least for the next decade. Yes, much repetitive work will likely be automated but most jobs requiring substantial judgment will be augmented by but not replaced by technology. For example, the Social Security Administration will make more decisions by computer and, when there's an outlier or a complaint, a human will make the final decision.

The challenge will be in how to address the many millions of people who formerly did routine jobs. A guaranteed basic income is often proposed but it will require significant tax increases to companies and the middle class. Will the tax increase need to be so large as to kill incentive to work?  Will it kill more jobs? Encourage the so-called “welfare mentality?”

Another proposal is job rationing a la France’s 35-hour work week. But that lowers the quality of our goods and services. For example, today, the best cardiologists are so in demand, they may see patients evenings and weekends. The worst may have trouble filling 20 hours a week. Under job rationing, more people would see worse cardiologists.

More valid hiring. Resumes, interviews, and references are notoriously invalid predictors of job performance. So we’ll see more simulation-centric, asynchronous interviewing: In the comfort of one’s home, in front of their webcam, job applicants will see the interviewer’s questions, mainly simulations of the job’s common difficult tasks. The answers will be recorded for the employer to review.

The gigification of America. The growing cost of mandated benefits when hiring an American full-time is fueling the increased conversion of full-time benefited jobs to temp gigs. This trend will continue.

What won’t change is what employers seek for well-paying jobs: tech-plus, reasoning skills, and emotional solidity.


Medicare for all. Notwithstanding the current retracement, the nation is moving inexorably to single-payer health care. This will create challenges in cost and access because many of the newly “covered” will have high health care needs but limited ability to pay. One way this will be addressed is accelerated replacement of high-priced MDs with physician assistants, anesthesiology assistants, physical therapy assistants, etc.

Virtual MDs. Cost-control pressures will also accelerate efforts to create Virtual MDs. A “health belt” may monitor our health, telling us, for example, when we need to take more birth control. It will notify our physician assistant when there’s a problem.

Personalized genomic medicine. Treatments should improve thanks to individualized genomic medicine. If society deems it ethically acceptable, genomic medicine may not only cure disease but enhance: from altruism to intelligence. To ensure the haves/have-nots gap doesn't increase, it would be covered under MediCal, like other medical procedures.

Intoxicating. The U.S. is headed toward national legalization of recreational pot, the dangers under-considered. Within a decade, hallucinogens such as peyote mushrooms may be legalized.


The government wants us out of our cars. Policymakers are working hard to get us to drive less, whether by not building freeways despite the population increase, reducing the number of parking spaces, increasing tolls, pay roads, carpool lanes, and expensive traffic tickets. This will not change. If anything, environmentalism is becoming more embedded in our consciousness.

Future cars. Cars will get ever smaller; many will be two-seaters, and most will be energy-efficient. Tomorrow’s hybrid vehicle may well be hydrogen and solar. And yes, in a decade, cars, trucks, buses, taxis, and trains will be self-driving.


Miniaturizing home. The trend will continue toward smaller homes, including 500-square-foot micro-apartments that will cleverly use rooms' full height well as modern "Murphy Beds" embedded in the wall, which drop down for sleeping.

Fab pre-fabs. More people who want single-family homes will turn to the ever better-pre-manufactured homes, better than the old “pre-fabs.”

Home work. Because of the aforementioned restrictions on driving, much residential building will be in-fill, near mass-transit stations. And the trend to telecommuting for at least part of the week will continue. Apartment buildings will include architectural features and social programming to build community.

Home play. The driving restrictions will make more people’s social life more virtual and with neighbors. Also, homes will contain immersion rooms: in which all four walls, ceiling, and floor will be LCD screens. This combined with 3D holography will allow for remarkably immersive entertainment, education, training,, and even matchmaking.


We’ll print our clothes. We'll see mass-customized, 3D-printed clothes. At websites from to to, a laser built into your phone will enter your measurements, you'll pick a style and a fabric, and the site will send printing instructions to your 3D printer. Your custom clothes will be in your hands in minutes, no shipping.

Social Trends

Increased redistribution. We’ll likely see increased redistribution of resources to society’s Have-Nots, especially in employment, education, and social programs.

Marriage will continue to decline. As women gain more economic power, fewer women will feel the need to marry, especially to marry men. And as divorce laws in most states tend to be tough on men, and women's empowerment efforts are often creating antipathy toward men, fewer men will want to marry women.

Within five years, robot platonic and romantic partners will have advanced enough to be bought by the public. This will especially be a boon to the physically or mentally disabled but may be more widely used. HERE is the current generation of such robots. Not ready for prime time but suggestive of what's to come.


In color. Whites will soon be the minority, and Immigration and birth rate trends will accelerate that. Whites’ influence will decrease further because in many intellectual circles and in universities, whites are viewed as having obtained “privilege” unfairly and are racist oppressors. This will be the era of color.

More East-West. Asian countries are becoming ever more formidable. For example, no longer content to be just experts in manufacturing products designed elsewhere, Asian universities are now focusing on creating innovators. Our world is ever more tech-centric and countries like China, India, and Japan have long prioritized STEM professions. So the U.S. will increasingly conclude it can’t often-enough beat ‘em so it might as well join ‘em” in partnerships of various sorts.

Other Disruptive Changes

Self-teaching computers. The terms vary: machine learning, active artificial intelligence, deep learning, but the concept is the same: The next generation of software and robots will learn from their mistakes, getting ever smarter. That’s less likely to create robots that take over than to make our lives easier—from better-automated tax-returns to efficient home energy and security systems.

On the downside, self-teaching computers will accelerate the elimination of not only routine jobs but those requiring some judgment. 

But en toto, yes, the robots are coming but not so fast. Hey, they’ve been selling robotic vacuum cleaners for a long time yet most of us are still pushing around our Hoovers. 

The decline of campus-based higher education. A degree used to be a virtual guarantor of improved employment. Now, it’s just a job hunting license. Half of college graduates under 25 are unemployed or doing jobs they could have done with just a high school diploma. And the comprehensive study, Academically Adrift, found remarkably little freshman-to-senior growth in those core areas that college is supposed to improve: critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and writing. And that’s for the graduates. Only 59% do, even if given six years.

As a result, we’re already seeing an increase in people doing much of their learning on a just-in-time basis, obtaining certificates at bootcamps and online intensives, through,,, and MasterClass, at which, for example, Jane Goodall teaches conservation, Martin Scorsese teaches filmmaking, and Diane Von Furstenberg teaches fashion, with each course costing $90. The trend toward learning outside the halls of academe will continue.

The Spiritual

More spirit, less religion. The Pew Center reports that the fastest growing religion is no religion. But people will continue to want a source of inspiration and comfort beyond the quotidian. So non-deistic spiritual practices, for example, Buddhism and the related yoga, martial arts, and meditation may flourish.

The Takeaway

In light of these predictions, is there anything you want to consider as you're doing strategic planning at work or even in your personal life?