Kids born in 1988 grew up not knowing a world without personal computers. Kids born a decade later never knew a world in which the internet didn’t exist. For those born in 2008, smartphones have always been around. What’s the world going to look like for those born in 2018, then? What will be taken for granted — and, on the flipside, what will they never experience?
Here are our predictions for eight things that the class of 2036 (that’s today’s kids at 18) won’t have to deal with by the time they’re in their late teens.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been pretty open about his desire to live in a world in which paper money simply doesn’t exist. Chances are that, by the time your little sprog reaches his or her late teens, cash money will have gone the way of the dinosaurs.
The rise of NFC payment technology, Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies mean that talk of cashing a check or carrying a money clip will instantly mark out parents as being, like, totally ancient.
Getting a driver’s license
Between helicopter parents, concerns about personal safety, and less time spent socializing with friends, today’s iGen’ers (those born after 1995) aren’t in the same rush to get a driver’s license as previous generations. We expect this trend to continue — but with one big technological shift thrown in for good measure: The arrival of self-driving cars. For kids born in 2018, a world without autonomous cars is something they’ll never have experienced.
By 2036, the vast majority of cars on the road will be self-driving. While we expect that human-driven vehicles will persist in the luxury market, that’s not likely to be something the majority of newly-qualified teen drivers will be concerned with. Chances are that the insurance costs alone will make a non-self driving car prohibitively expensive for the teens of 2036!
Getting a weekend job
Like getting a driver’s license at 17, getting a weekend or holiday job is something today’s iGen are less likely to do. In 1980, 70 percent of teens had a summer job. Today, that number is more likely to be around 40 percent — and falling.
Give it another 18 years and automation will have eliminated many of the entry level service industry jobs teens would have once carried out for a few extra bucks. After all, why hire an unqualified waiter, fry chef, or call center operator when a drone, robot, or A.I. could carry out the same task more cheaply, efficiently, and without constantly sending Snapchats to its friends?
Being able to speak another language will only become more necessary as globalism brings the world closer and closer together. Fortunately, technology is here to help. Machine translation is already more impressive than most people would have predicted just a few years back.
Companies like Google and Baidu are working hard to make Star Trek-style universal translation technology portable. Give it another 18 years and reaching for your English-to-French phrase book will look as antiquated as pulling out an abacus to calculate your tip in a restaurant.
Staying in one place
Go back just a couple hundred years and most people would be unlikely to travel much further than the next town on a regular basis. By 2038, however, travel will be transformed beyond what we’re used to today. Intercity rockets, such as those envisioned by Elon Musk, could allow people to travel anywhere on the planet in less than one hour.
While we don’t expect to be anywhere near colonizing Mars in the next 18 years, we also would be incredibly surprised if humanity remains as Earthbound as it currently is. Trips into space, perhaps to visit some giant privately-owned space station retreat, will be the equivalent of your family taking a vacation to Paris.
Dying before 100
With artificial intelligence working to invent new drugs, wearable devices that warn you about any kind of health anomaly, and the promise of 3D bioprinted organs, there are plenty of ways that our lives will be extended by medical technology over the years to come. (And that’s without discussing the impact that tech like autonomous cars or robots in the workplace will have on reducing accidental deaths.)
Although the science seems conflicted on whether there is an upper-limit for human life as we know it, we fully expect that kids born 2018 will live significantly longer than today’s adults. Cue this sketch about being envious of our own children.
Having any privacy
Our penultimate prediction is a pessimistic one: The end of privacy. While current controversies like the Cambridge Analytica Facebook saga may have some impact on the regulation of user data, we don’t see the tide turning for what technology is doing to our privacy.
By 2036, smart cities will analyze every move we make outside while smart devices, equipped with the latest A.I. insights, will do much the same for the home. There’s every chance that the world of 2018 will be looked at as the “good old days” when it comes to our respective privacy.
Living in a world with poverty
We’ll end this list on a positive note by saying that, by 2038, we hope to see the end of poverty. New types of food, such as lab-grown meat and genetically modified crops, will feed the growing global population.
Fresh approaches to medical diagnosis and treatment will also wipe out many of the diseases which currently devastate large parts of the world, such as HIV and malaria. At the same time, greater levels of education will be enjoyed by people around the world thanks to connectivity and online learning tools.