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Leadership Keynote speaker: The future is approaching rapidly, prepare now

Leadership keynote

San Diego — Safety professionals need to prepare now for a future that is coming faster than many anticipate, futurist and trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll said during Wednesday’s Leadership Keynote at the National Safety Council 2019 Congress & Expo.

One of his objectives, Carroll said, was to “scare and terrify” the audience about new trends reshaping the world and their ensuing safety risks. He also, however, encouraged safety pros to view the future as an opportunity, not a source of fear.

Using “The Jetsons” and “Star Trek” as examples for the accelerated pace of change, Carroll pointed out that, although the TV shows were based on settings decades and centuries from now, the technology that appeared in both – including drones, artificial intelligence and automated vehicles – is already here.

Carroll said the future can take us in directions that we can’t even imagine today, such as welders or truck drivers performing their tasks from thousands of miles away through virtual reality. He also predicted that 65% of today’s preschool-aged children will work in jobs or careers that don’t exist yet.

“How are you going to mitigate safety risks for jobs and careers which are not yet in existence?” Carroll asked.

He urged safety pros to ensure they are part of any discussion about the future and encouraged them to adopt an “innovation mindset”: think big, start with small changes and prepare to move fast.

“You need to be involved in the future,” he said. “You need to understand these trends. You need to assess the reality of the risks that can come.”