100 Minds

From around the world

Vijay Kumar

Institute of Design

Chicago, United States

Let’s create a world that will facilitate health and happiness in the future. Most importantly, let us behave more responsibly today so that our dreams of tomorrow can be realized.

Empathy, Knowledge, Choices

What will the world be like in 100 years? Much speculation exists about the future in terms of technology. But as technology evolves, so does human behavior. What will our behaviors be like in the future? How will we act and feel?

Imagine a world where value systems will shift from tangible to intangible. As people choose to collect knowledge and experiences, ownership of material possessions will become less relevant thus redefining the concept of wealth. Knowledge and experiences will become more valuable than currency.

One hundred years from now, inefficiencies in the way we operate and go about our day will be reduced to near zero. Language barriers will be eliminated and communication will become spectacularly fluid. Regional knowledge will transcend geographical boundaries and be readily available for people all over the world.

Technological and biological advancements will revolutionize the learning process, allowing us to rapidly absorb knowledge. People will be able to “download” complete learning experiences, making mastering complex tasks both effortless and comprehensive.

This will lead to the ability to serve multiple roles. Future lifestyles become more flexible. People’s roles will be defined by choice rather than by their capacity for performance. With time we will become more transient in our chosen roles and with the rate of change in the marketplace, careers will change just as fast.

And when skills, knowledge and expertise become so easy to attain, what will be the measure of success? It won’t be your title, earnings, or professional advancement, but rather the level of happiness, feelings of accomplishment, and a degree of self-realization. We will be able to track our emotional patterns and at the end of the month, instead of looking at your pay check, check your “happiness report” to see how you’re doing and think about how you can make it better.

In addition to understanding our own emotions, we will be able to understand others’ emotions as intimately as our own. This deep understanding will elevate communication to a new level. Think about newborns and their parents – that desperate cry that parents can’t quite figure out. For example, if the infant has an upset stomach, technology will allow the parents to understand the pain and see the affected area through visualization.

This new level of understanding will redefine how we share experiences with one another. Imagine receiving a postcard from a friend in Hawaii. Instead of just staring at a piece of paper, you hold the card and feel the sand between your toes; you can smell the ocean and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.

It is great to dream about a world full of empathy, knowledge, and choices. Dreaming provides visions of infinite possibilities and motivates us towards change. In order to create the future we want, our actions must reflect more empathy towards the people around us. Let us create a world that will facilitate health and happiness in the future. And most importantly let us behave more responsibly today so that our dreams of tomorrow can be realized.

Vijay Kumar Bio:

Vijay Kumar is a professor at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, USA. He is also a consultant, coach, and advisor to global corporations and organizations.

With over 30 years of experience on design innovation, Kumar has taught, published and lectured throughout the world about how to use structured methods for conceiving reliable human-centered innovations and turning them into strategic plans for organizations. He is the inventor of many methods and software tools designed to uncover unexplored innovation opportunities. He regularly conducts executive workshops for organizations in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.

He has consulted to numerous global corporations and organizations such as Alamo, Autodesk, Bose, Daishinsha, Hallmark, Kraft Foods, Lenscrafters, Liberty Mutual, McDonald’s, Motorola, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, Shell, SAS Airlines, Steelcase, T-Mobile, Target, Texas Instruments, Wells Fargo, and Zurich Financials among others.

Kumar is a frequent speaker and is widely published on innovation methods. His recent speaking engagements include the CII-NID Design Summit at Delhi, Design Thinking Summit at Singapore, the AllWorld Summit at Harvard University, the World Industrial Design Fair at Ningbo, Innovation Forum at Barcelona, and the Institute of Design Strategy Conference at Chicago.