Why Are We Too Blind to See the Reality of What’s Happening Around Us?

Let’s first understand the present before predicting the future.

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

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Photo courtesy of author

“Are the current students lazy?”

I didn’t see that question coming. The question was even more surprising because it was asked by someone who only graduated a few months ago.

He participated in a Future of Lawyers event last week. I was asked to give a presentation. I had some doubts at first but decided to accept the invitation anyway. The preparation wouldn’t take too much time.

The “Future of” events started to take off six years ago or so. I began getting more and more invitations to speak at conferences, seminars, and workshops worldwide.

The future of work. That was about how artificial intelligence would soon dominate the workplace and disrupt knowledge workers.

The future of universities. That was about the opportunities and benefits offered by virtual campuses and how the role of professors would dramatically change in the 2020s. There would be no role for the typical professor who knows it all and teaches students who are all ears for his orations and speeches.

The future of education. That was about preparing the next generation for the uncertain things to come.

I loved giving the presentations. There was something magical about explaining trends and discussing their future impact. The audience used to be diverse. No matter who attended the sessions, the discussions were always fruitful. Some of them wanted to learn. Some were there to unlearn. And even the ones who didn’t want to learn and believed it was all hype were a lot of fun to interact with.

But, recently, the “future of” events started to grow like weeds. The number of invitations I receive weekly to speak at or attend one of these events is insane. And they are all the same. The agendas haven’t changed much. They discuss the latest digital trends — mainly artificial intelligence. It’s interesting to see that everyone is an expert now. The noise is deafening. The loudest people fight for attention. The result? We stopped listening. Or, and even worse, we pretend to listen and interpret the information as we see fit.

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Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (law) exploring the collision of life, work, and technology, with a current project in the works - a sci-fi novel.