Lab 9 – The future

In the near future, the Millennials will be the most important generation. These 18-35 year olds are the most educated, travelled, digitized, outgoing and widest reflective generation in Denmark that has ever been. They represent one fifth of the population but account for more than one third of all consumption. Saatchi & Saatchi believes it is so important to understand the behavior and preferences of the 18-35 year olds that they have run Millennial Lab for several years; an insight study based on quantitative analyzes, qualitative talks and workshops with millennials.

Millennials and the future
Millennials look forward to the future. They are born in the midst of technological development, and that is precisely why they are not afraid of it either. They even embrace robots and artificial intelligence and the only generation that look at technology as their friend.

A large majority ¾ of Millennials believes that new technology will create more jobs. They have grown up in the tech start-up era, where new technologies have created big businesses and lots of jobs. They therefore look at technology as a generator and creator. It is in stark contrast to previous generations’ perceptions of machines and robots as a threat that took jobs and replaced people.

So even though Millennials are born in the midst of a financial crisis and even have severe economic conditions, they are optimistic about the future and that is due to the many new technological options. They are interested in new technology and are already competent super users. They use technology and services in everyday life, in social networks, at work and in education. And then they think that new technology will make everyday life easier. So why not be optimistic about the future?

65% believe that technology adds to better quality of life
13% says it does not
22% do not know

A colleague called Robot
Millennials will change the workplace. They will change the way we work and how we work together. Basically, they expect the company to be up-to-date and using the latest technological facilities. Because, they do it themselves. They do not drown in mails or text messages. They do not call or make a phone message. Instead, they chat in forums, share documents on the cloud and are connected to colleagues and the outside world through social platforms. Everything happens on the phone. Therefore, through new technology, better than any other generation, they can change workflows and forms of cooperation that will create a different, efficient and flexible working life.

Millennials, unlike other generations, also sees artificial intelligence and robots as colleagues – not as competitors. Everyone in our survey believed that robots would in partially replace humans in the workplace.

Over half will be okay to have robots as co-workers. Part of the explanation is probably because most people believe that new technology will create more jobs. Despite the friendly attitude towards robots, the majority do not believe that robots will live equally among humans.

The future home is a smart home
Millennials do not let the future stay at work. They also take it with them home. Their digital skills make them think technology into the home. They are interested in new tech and smart solutions. And since many are gadget freaks, a modern technological home is completely natural to them. Alarm control. Automatically turn light on and off. Heating that turns itself on when you put your GPS on “home”. Or the washing machine that turns on when the electricity is cheapest. Everything will be controlled by an app on your mobile. Thus, Millennials place new demands for the future homes. And they look at the possibilities of the home with tech eyes. Therefore, much suggests that future housing will be assessed on location, energy and technology. It is worth knowing when building new, renovating or educating craftsmen. Or when pursuing to be a good real estate agent or bank adviser.

Virtual reality check
When the conversation lands on virtual reality, they also see lots of opportunities. However, they are remaining critical towards how VR can be used. They do not think we will live in a virtual reality world. For example, NONE of them would use VR for vacation. And only 5% would use it to go on date. On the other hand, almost 91% would do a degree with VR and almost half 41% would like to use it to go to work. They are keen on the idea of technology makes life easier but not to replace the connectivity between people.

A generation with a critical sense
Millennials embraces technology and sees it as a natural and integral part of the future. But they are not uncritical in terms of new technology, artificial intelligence, robots and ethical issues. On the contrary, they have plenty of common sense and critical view on how to use the technology of the future. For example, many believe that eternal life is soon an opportunity. Something they might even have to decide on in the future. At it is already possible to get a digital afterlife and an avatar that lives on for you. With artificial intelligence, it uses your conversation history to write and speak just like you. That way, family and friends can communicate with you even if you are dead.

We asked our group of millennials if they wanted to download their minds on the cloud and achieve immortality? Only 14% would do it. Just over 24% would consider getting a hard disk drive that records everything you see so you can turn back and forth in your memory.

But what about the physical person? Millennials is a sci-fi generation. But Cyborg, avatars and AI are not just fantasy. They mention that we are already well on our way. Who is eventually 100% human? We use lenses or have laser-operated eyes. Will be screwed back together when we break something. Get operated a pacemaker, gets new knees or hips. Or, get new breasts. Where is the limit? The answer is that it is moved in line with the new technological possibilities.

For our Millennials, it was alright to use 3D printed organs or to strengthen memory with implants in the brain. On the other hand, over half did not want to get nanobots in the brain that could tell them when they would became ill. That knowledge they wanted to be without.

71% would use 3D-printed devices
24% would strengthen memory with implants in the brain

Gene technology puts thoughts and ethical considerations on our Millennials minds. They were not just all in on gene therapy. Over half of them think it is okay to eradicate different genes – but most with reservations. Firstly, they have seen enough sci-fi movies, where it goes wrong when you are fiddling with nature. But it is also common sense not to play God. Equally excited they are about new technology just as skeptical they are against how we use it. Should we do it just because we can?

Most believe that it will be technologically possible in the future to live forever. But at the same time they see death as a necessary perspective. A life without death becomes a life without purpose. 70% believe immortality will be problematic. Both practical relative to overpopulation and resources but also ethically because our purpose as human beings disappears. So if it it up to Millennials, there are limits to what the technology will be used for in the future.