An Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina and an Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute, he was listed one of the world’s top 25 environmentalists ahead of his time in 2011. The same year, he chaired the United Nations DPI 64th NGO conference ‘Sustainable Societies Responsive Citizens’, which put forward the first set of indicative Sustainable Development Goals.
Professor Dodds has also authored or edited over 20 books, including co-writing ‘Negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals’ with Ambassador David Donoghue and Jimena Leiva Roesch, and ‘Only One Earth’, with the father of sustainable development, Maurice Strong.
His latest book ‘Tomorrow’s People and New Technology′ explores the impact the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have on peoples’ lives by 2030 and asks how technologies, including AI, biotechnology, IoT, and big data will come to shape every aspect of it.
“One of the things we need to do is to look at 2030 and to then look back,” he said. “What is 2030 going to be like and the book indicates some of it. What are the policy implications now, in 2022, 2023 that we need to address. What are the things that need to be done to advance many of the green technologies?”
He continued: “We list a number of what we call the jobs of the future: garbage designers, where you’re taking garbage and making it into things that people might want; or a personal data broker; weather modification police; or classroom avatar manager. As I think some of the interesting things in the classroom will be the use of virtual reality and hopefully some of these tools will make our students more knowledgeable, more understanding of culture as we move forward.”
In books predicting what a future defined by emerging technologies might look like, it is the worst case scenarios that often take centre stage but not in this one.
“The book was trying to make the future not seem scary,” Professor Dodds said. “There are so many books out there that talk about the technology advance and it being a scary world, and talk about the challenges as opposed to the positives.”
He added “We’re trying to help people to think ‘wow – so this is what my kitchen would look like, this is what my bathroom would look like. To ask: what would travel look like in 2030?’ What would entertainment look like? What about fashion? It may be that you’re 3D printing your fashion at home, or it may be that you decide to send to ask for something to be delivered by Amazon, or the equivalent, the next day and there’s a 3D printer in the shopping mall that prints out clothes for you – that’s less waste and transport than if you were getting it from possibly India, or China, or Vietnam and having it brought over. Less waste is good because we need to conserve, and we need to create much more of a circular economy for all of our things.”
Take a deep dive with me and Professor Dodds for more on the exciting futures that can be unlocked by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.