Futurist Anton Musgrave Highlights the Power of Youth in the Future World

T. Wei/The Phillipian

Musgrave discussed the depleting values of degrees in the workplace.

The growth of youth is one of the most valuable aspects of the future, expressed Anton Musgrave, futurist and senior partner of Future World International (F.W.I.), during his talk last Friday in Davis Hall. In conjunction with the F.W.I. workshop held on Saturday, which allowed students to brainstorm their version of the future, Musgrave spoke of the importance to embrace and adapt quickly to what the future holds.

“What we need to make sure is that our future is a matter of our choice, and not chance,” said Musgrave during his talk.

The current education system, where subjects are taught in short blocks of time, inadequately serves students, according to Musgrave. In a time when humans must make complex decisions about interconnected relations, Musgrave believes that this form of education does not provide students with the skills they need for the future.

“All around the world now, increasingly large companies are saying they don’t really care much for the degree certificate you get… Increasingly companies are saying we want to see young people who can actually do something. What can you do? How do you think? How resilient are you? How curious are you?” said Musgrave.

According to Musgrave, young people are tasked with the decision of whether or not to carry out the same rules and practices of the past or create their own future.

“In the next ten years, three billion young people join the global economy and they don’t keep quiet. They protest, they talk, they challenge. They’re excited about the future. They don’t think like we think. They think profoundly differently,” said Musgrave.

Musgrave also believes that the failure of some businesses can be attributed to the lack of planning for the future. However, Musgraves believes that younger people tend to think toward long-term goals.

“We chase corporate profits and focus on the short term business of today operations. We don’t allow our leaders to think about the long term future. But our kids are going to. I think that in 10 or 15 years time, it won’t be Facebook and Google that are the titans of the world. It’s going to be the businesses that our children are going to create. They are going to be the new titans of the world,” said Musgrave.

According to Musgrave, the fourth industrial revolution will target the development of high-tech robots and machine learning.

“If we don’t get that right, I am not sure the species will survive another 100 or 200 or 300 years. When I think about humanness, how do we build humanness? How do we teach humanness in schools? How do we build empathy amongst the members of this community, privileged and lucky beyond descriptions? How do we teach them risks, fun, humor, serendipity, love, passion? These are not words that are taught in MBA programs,” said Musgrave.

Although higher level education is important for advanced problem-solving, Musgrave argued that building empathy and relationships through learning liberal arts is what will advance society into the future.

“In the old world, we used to say that people are the most important asset. It’s a complete lie in the modern world—people are not your most important asset. Relationships are. It’s all about connections. It’s what goes on between two people that’s important, not the two individuals themselves,” said Musgrave.

According to Sarah Bakanosky, Project Coordinator at the Tang Institute, who attended the talk, Musgrave layed out a vision of a successful person beyond the traditional Ivy League graduate.

“I think that he gave me the sense of what a successful, educated person will look like fifty years from now. It’s not the person that says she goes to an Ivy League school and has all these accolades. It’s someone that is able to creatively problem solve and is analytical,” said Bakanosky.

Taylor Dunn ’22, another attendant of the talk, found Musgrave’s opinion on right decision-making comforting.

“You can do so many important things in your life and follow a lot of interests. I think [the talk] was really helpful to me because I am often conflicted in what I’m interested in so that was really helpful to know that it really is a possibility to change what you are doing throughout your life,” said Dunn.

Students were able to connect with Musgrave and become exposed to a better picture of what life could be like decades from now, according to Bakanosky.

Bakanosky said, “Anton’s talk gave me a better sense of the entire spectrum of futurism and thinking about how we have to care for our young people in giving the skills and the tools and the mindset in order to thrive in a world that we really don’t know will be like.”