The Industrial Revolution brought about a permenant shift from an agrarian to an industrial based economy. Later computers and the internet ushered in the information age where manufacturing has declined and information services gained prominance.
My theory is that the next logical phase is a sort of “Idiocracy” (yes, like the Mike Judge film). Unlike the film, it has nothing to do with dysgenics. As automation reduced the need for manual labor, automated information and decision support systems will ultimately reduce the need to make intelligent decisions. The proliferation of social media sites like Facebook will reduce the need for direct human interaction. The ultimate result is that like how modern humans mostly no longer have the skills required to hunt and survive in the wilderness, future humans will allow their social skills, manners, critical thinking and reason to attrophy.
With most of our physical needs provided by automation and outsourcing and most of our cognitive needs provided by our various information systems, most of societies needs and wants will revolve around being entertained from the mindless boredom of their lives. And what’s more entertaining than some idiot trying something stupid and filming it?
In addition to the traditional forms of mindless entertainment like movies and sports, expect to see a proliferation of reality TV shows, daytime talk shows, “gothcha” shows designed to catch people doing stupid shit and other media designed to consolidate and categorize and make profitable the vast amount of stupidity out there.
How to best prepare your children for the future? Forget wasting your time and money educating them at fancy colleges so they can go work in some declining industry. Teach them to play an instrument or act. Imbue (too big a word?) in them the importance of being attractive, good looking. Make them understand the importance of going to the gym so they can get abs like The Situation. Help them to learn that they will never be successful like Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan unless they learn how to act outlandishly in public.
If they really insist of being “intellectuals”, don’t consider them a disappointment. There is still money to be made in the trades as a snarky blogger or Comedy Central clip show editor.