By Sarah Eidemiller, Staff Writer
Saint Vincent College hosted one of the world’s foremost forecaster-futurists on November 11th as part of the New Horizon Speaker Series, a Campus Life program originally created for freshmen but that has expanded to bring in speakers for the general public as well.
Dr. Marvin Cetron, 80, is not only the founder and president of Forecasting International, but he is world renown and has written countless publications. He has appeared regularly on major television programs, such as Good Morning America, CNN Newsmaker Sunday, CBS Morning News and Larry King Live Shows, to share his thoughts and information.
That evening, he had a lot of news to tell our college.
He told the audience, consisting of mostly students, that they will have to spend a lifetime of keeping up with the ever-changing technology and that earning a living may not be as important in the future. The good news is that it won’t matter how little people work, because the government will make sure that everyone has money anyway. People will have tons of time to waste and mingle in whatever they do for enjoyment, since everything will be ruled by technology and artificial intelligence. People will no longer be earning any money in the arts, too, since technology will be the center of everything.
All of this, Cetron claims, is just 20 years from today.
“Saint Vincent is a marvelous liberal arts school situated in a beautiful Western Pennsylvanian setting,” Cetron said. “Its faculty seem very dedicated. The facilities are superb for learning. The President and the Deans are not only outstanding educators, but have a breadth of knowledge that students should take advantage of because it’s very unique. Brother Norman’s intelligence and background in mathematics, for example — as well as his understanding of how it applies to all facets of life are wonderful assets to have for Saint Vincent College in this period of global change. And it’s essential that you look at what is transforming society today to have any idea of what is going to happen over the next few years, when you graduate and are out living in society. Trends that alter our lives, the way we live, work, learn, and play take shape over many years. By studying the future, and seeing the weak signals of these trends as they evolve, you can prepare yourself best to take advantage of the opportunities unfolding rather than taking a chance that you may have missed the boat.”
This futuristic information is especially important for college students of today, since society will have a monumental effect on them once they graduate.
“The past and present are already set in place,” he explained. “Only the future can be worked with. The future holds the best thing for those that study it. They can see where the opportunities and problems are before it is set in place, and can take advantage of that knowledge to create a better life for themselves, and avoid the pitfalls. The worst thing would be to blow off studying it, and face the pitfalls unprepared, while missing out on the opportunities because you acted too late to have it make a positive impact on your life. It’s your life you’re talking about here.” Cetron said that the mantra for the 21st century should be “clicks,” not “bricks,” since the Internet and mobile communications, automation, robotic systems, and organizational management based on electronic gaming and modeling will be where the jobs will be for today’s college students. Being inside a building for school will become very rare, and everything will be done from home, Cetron claims.
“Computers and automation will move from a specialty to affect every aspect of our lives within the next ten years,” he said.
The government, he explained, will be apolitical, with no different parties or conflicting governmental views. There will be a blend of humans and androids running everything, and if you have a lot of money, it will just be redistributed among people who need it more than you.
“His lecture was indeed mind provocative,” said junior marketing major, Simon Clayton, who also introduced Cetron that evening, and was in attendance to represent the Student Faculty Administrator Benedictine Committee (SSABC). “His ideas that were supported by research did raise some questions for me, but I still maintained an open mind,” Clayton said.
Clayton also said that he could tell that adults at the lecture seemed less open to the ideas presented. “They weren’t defensive, but they asked questions that were definitely challenging,” he explained. “They delved deeper into the concepts, while the students seemed more open-minded.”
Clayton said that Cetron did not sugar-coat any of the information he shared and that the research he used was presented logically and reasonably.
“We can’t tell what exactly the future will be like,” Clayton said, “but with patterns we can predict it, like with the research he provided us.”
Cetron also predicted that by 2015, 90 percent of all scientists and engineers will live in and work out of Asia, and that the average person will have at least three of four career paths in a 20-year period, and three jobs in each cycle, since robots will be doing most of our work.
“The thing about that is that robots can make decisions based on logic, but they can’t make them based on risks,” Clayton said. “What is logical is not always the best thing, so humans will always be important.”