Jobs of the Future
Genetic Counselors & Child Designers
Genetic testing can screen for diseases and disorders before a child is born.
What can be screened:
- Tay-Sachs Disease
- Sickle Cell Disease
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Down Syndrome
Tay-Sachs has been almost eliminated through genetic testing. Babies with Tay-Sachs are born deaf, blind, mentally impaired and without the ability to swallow. There is no treatment and most die by age 5. It is now so rare that most doctors have never seen a case.
In the future, genetics may be able to “cure” babies of genetic diseases in utero. Sections of DNA could be replaced to eliminate the disease.
Genetics now allow parents to choose traits they want to see in their children. A process known as inheritable genetic modification can alter DNA in an egg, sperm or early embryo so that parents can choose features.
- Eye color
- Hair color
- Skin tone
- Body type
Parents with certain health conditions can engineer their children to have the same ones, sparking controversy. For example, babies can be made to be born with deafness or dwarfism. Also, “savior siblings” can be engineered in order to donate needed organs to a sick child.
Genetic modification is controversial. Many believe that it is unethical to alter the DNA of a child to suit the parent. In some countries, it is used to avoid having female children. The results that come from the practice are used to advance stem cell research and treatment, an already controversial field.
The Mars Curiosity rover landed on Mars in August 2012. The rover’s job is to study the red planet and determine whether it is, or ever was, able to sustain microbial life. Since landing, Curiosity has found evidence of water.
Robotics is becoming more important as it is integrated into everyday life.
Robot Cars can detect when people fall asleep at the wheel. They alert the driver and decelerate if they do not wake up. Cars can also detect debris in the road.
Rescue robots are used in the cases of fires, explosions and natural disasters to provide a visual on what is happening, search for survivors, send air analysis, temperature readings, etc.
Mobile robots have replaced people in assembly lines.
Military robots are used to aid soldiers in combat and other situations. The use of drones by the US has been controversial.
Medical robots assist in and perform medical procedures. The first robot-assisted surgery was in 1985. It was used to place a needle for a brain biopsy.
Domestic robots are the fastest growing family. They do chores such as vacuuming and dish washing.
By 2050, 80% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. The population is expected to increase by about 3 billion people, worldwide. Using traditional farming methods, it would take 20% more land than is represented by Brazil to produce enough food for the world. It takes landmass the size of Virginia to grow the food for New York City.
Vertical farming changes the way people produce food. Vertical farms are typically buildings in which crops are grown on top of each other and fed artificial light. By farming up instead of out, more crops can be produced in a smaller space.
This method of farming allows for less water waste because everything is recycled. Farmers can better control their crops because of less environmental interference. The controlled environment allows for the stop of diseases and contamination. Vertical farming would cut import costs, carbon dioxide emissions and spoilage. Cities would theoretically be able to feed themselves.
Vertical farming is not going to take over traditional farming any time soon because of the cost. However, it is economical when it comes to specialty crops. Crops such as tobacco, which is used to produce certain drugs and vaccines, are currently being grown in vertical farms for pharmaceutical companies.
In March 2013, a 90,000 sq. ft. vertical farm opened in Chicago, becoming the largest of its kind in the world.
- Built in a large, repurposed warehouse
- Aquaponic (Plants grow in water, not soil)
- Tilapia fish clean water and produce fertilizer
- Produced hundreds of local jobs
- Expected to eventually produce 1 million pounds of organic greens a year
Therapist, counselor, researcher
According to a study conducted between 2001-2003, rates of mental illness are increasing around the world. 1 in 5 American adults take mental health drugs.
The way psychological illnesses are identified is changing. The fifth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was released May 2013. This was the first major revision in almost 20 years. Controversial changes include:
- The combination of autism spectrum disorder into one category
- The addition of cannabis withdrawal
- The addition of gambling addiction
- The addition of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
- Redefined Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Criteria for eating disorders have been expanded
- Redefined attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was given its own category
The government uses the DSM as a means of determining grant funding, health care policies and insurance coverage. The DSM has experienced much criticism because it oftentimes does not indicate the best course of action or appropriate treatment. It also encourages patients to be diagnosed based on symptoms rather than the whole. Mental health professionals are moving away from using the DSM to treat patients.
In 2012, mental disorders resulted in more hospitalization of US service members than any other diagnostic category. Suicide is the leading cause of death in the Army, surpassing combat and motor vehicle accidents. For every US soldier killed in war, about 25 take their own lives. Close to half of soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are seeking compensation for injuries. Many of these injuries are psychological ones. The decrease in troops in the Middle East means that there are more back home in the US. They’re struggling with emotional adjustments. Many fear getting help or think that there are no options. Others have sought help but can’t get it. The financial cost to care for so many soldiers is overwhelming.