Generation 2030
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The Childhood Grind

Future 4:

The Childhood Grind


"The Childhood Grind" represents an idea of what Canada could be like in 2030. In this future, kids have to work hard and compete against each other. They are always trying to get better and stronger. Adults worry that kids won’t get good jobs.


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what matters to canadians:

  • Canadians of all ages are concerned with constantly improve their skills and abilities, to remain competitive with each other and technology.

  • Canadians use ambient and wearable technology to “nudge” themselves to improve in all aspects of life, from education to health and fitness.

  • Canadians are surrounded by media that feeds their values and expectations. Many struggle with a narrow worldview and are fearful of diversity.

How Government works:

  • Canada’s government is highly engaged with managing the impacts of automated work. Politicians and citizens are divided about how best to deal with unemployment and regulate fast-paced, emergent technologies.

  • Populism is on the rise with growing nationalistic sentiments. Anti-immigration sentiments are strongly voiced in many policy debates.

  • Government is busy managing the impacts of wide income and social inequality amidst polarized public support for equitable public policies.

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How we Work and make money:

  • Much of the work of the past has been automated. The unemployment rate is high and there is intense competition for work that people do to support the technology systems that most companies rely on.

  • The Intelligent Machine Tax feeds directly into a wage supplement that each citizen receives.

  • Canadians without work rely on the wage supplement to get by, but often do not have enough to set aside savings and are in a precarious financial state. Greater economic disparity is an increasing reality.

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how we teach and learn:

  • Standardized Canadian curriculum is delivered to children through integrated in-home technologies in numbered learning modules.

  • Children often compete (with each other and their older family members) to have the highest module numbers completed successfully.

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how kids are doing:

  • Families have a strong sense of pride for entrepreneurial children and those who succeed at their learning modules.

  • The variety of subjects and topics for children and youth to study in public education has exploded. Children can now learn anything, from quantum physics to ethnographic research methods.

  • There is a staggering rise of mental health disorders as children and youth are pressured to “compete” from very early ages.


A Day in the Life

Sam, Age 13

On Tuesday morning, 13-year old Sam is woken by her perfectly-calibrated alarm, which wakes her after 8 hours of restful sleep. She’s refreshed and excited to start her day. Today, Sam has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make her dreams come true.

Sam’s snuggly robot kitten nudges her out of bed, then jumps over to her desk and initiates her bedroom screen. Sam’s artificial intelligence coach, Stefan, greets her and runs her through a series of brain and body exercises designed to sharpen her physical strength, flexibility, and mental concentration.

While standing on one foot to strengthen her weaker left ankle, a pop quiz appears on the screen. Sam quickly rhymes off the definitions of several machine learning principles. She gets two answers wrong, so doesn’t level up on her Artificial Intelligence Engineering Module. She'll have to do better than that if she wants to have any kind of future career. Sam grits her teeth and tells herself that she’ll study extra hard tonight.

She quickly flips through the dashboard of the 17 learning streams she’s currently working on. Most of her scores are mid-range for her age, while a couple in creative thinking and analytical problem solving are unusually high. She feels reassured by the numbers, levels and badges, and knowing her coach, Stefan, will help her level up on her weak spots. She’s absent-mindedly scratching her kitten’s head, as she thinks about this. After the 37 seconds of allowed daydreaming time, her kitten meows loudly and nudges Sam’s arm. She shakes her head and gets re-focused on the day.


She’ll have to do better than that if she wants to have any kind of future career.

After morning exercises, Sam swallows her vitamin mix, which Stefan has created specifically for her, based on her blood test results from overnight, as well as to counteract her genetic predisposition for certain diseases. 

Then, she heads to her kitchen, where her brother is sitting, eating breakfast while fully immersed in virtual reality Brain Training. With his Retina Projection Media Glasses set to “do not disturb”, he doesn’t hear her come in. He’s  deeply immersed in a game module with four of his friends. They’re struggling through level 16, which involves synchronizing their brain waves to crack open a vault of treasure. Sam rolls her eyes. She beat that level ages ago.

Sam grabs a packaged breakfast (mango-flavoured, her favourite) and eats it distractedly. The processed nutrition bar is tasty, one of the most successful innovations in sustainable food production made by Canada’s governmental artificial intelligence. Some of the other environment-saving projects, like quantum garbage compression, haven’t gone so well.

Children are given toys from an early age that monitor their behaviours and nudge them to improve.

Children are given toys from an early age that monitor their behaviours and nudge them to improve.

After getting dressed in her new suit and heels, Sam sees a notification popup on the kitchen console that her ride has arrived. Last night, Sam decided to treat herself to a private self-driving transit service to buy herself some time to prepare for her interview today.  It’s a luxury she’ll allow herself just this once. 

The car pulls up in front of a large tower of glass in downtown. It’s the headquarters for the company she’s always wanted to work for, doing design of ambient technology with teams of humans and robots. She’s here to interview for her dream job and she’ll have to compete with kids and adults all around the world. It’s pretty intimidating. Sam takes a deep breath and steps into the lobby.


How did we get here?

Trends are the patterns of change that we can identify now that will shape the future. The trends below are those trends in 2017 that had the biggest impact on the development of this future.


Machines are becoming more capable of doing jobs that humans currently do, in manufacturing and even in desk-jobs.

Technology is changing the ways we think about and define privacy, particularly as it relates to our online identities.

Technology is changing the way education looks, feels, and works in Canada.



Part of the power of foresight is that it starts new and different conversations. Here are some questions you can use to spark a conversation with children and youth about this future.

What do you think would be fun for kids in this future?

What might be scary or sad for kids in this future?

What do you think kids would play with in this future?

In this imaginary future, people are scared about computers replacing humans. What might be scary about this? What might be good about this?