Blockchain engineer, robotic surgeon: AKQA illustrates Davos’ jobs of the future

The Public Technology Ethicist of 2030

The unimaginable but probable careers of the future have been brought to life by AKQA, the illustrator Florian de Gesincourt and Misk Global Foundation, all of whom were inspired by the forward-looking conversations held at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Agency creative duo Senan Lee and Pansy Aung – better known as Salt & Pepper Creative – listened in to Davos’ panel discussions each morning to conceptualise the jobs of the future alongside their charity client Misk.

The imagined jobs were based on panelists’ predictions, comments or narrative of conversation, and included superstructure printer, national identity conservationist and remote robotic surgeon.

"At the end of each panel discussion, we sat down our strategist and worked out the narrative of conversation," said Lee. “Sometimes the jobs would be really easy to create as the panelists would have mentioned something really specific – for example, in one talk the panelists talked about how 5G connections will allow telesurgery to be able to be taken to the next level and actually enable the surgeon to feel haptic feedback of patients as they work on them remotely.

“We took this idea and pushed it further so it would be in a really remote location. Davos has a big emphasis on 'inclusion' and so we tried to reflect this in the imagery by making them reflect emerging markets as well as western culture."

In other instances, the creative team had to devise a job role based on common threads of futuristic conversation. For instance, Christine Lagarde’s insight that two billion people in the world don’t have a bank account was tied to her approval of blockchain technology. The result was blockchain banking engineer – ‘a person who expands the infrastructure of blockchain technology, giving people access to secure banking for the first time'.

Once devised, AKQA passed the ideas to the concept artist Florian de Gesincourt, who turned them into delicate, vivid illustrations. Retouching studio Happy Finish coloured the images in time for them to be displayed at Davos the following day via Misk Global Forum, Misk Foundation’s platform to empower Saudi youth.

“The biggest challenge was the time factor, and liaising with so many people in different locations,” said Le. “Half of the team was in Davos, Florian was in his studio in Montpellier, and Happy Finish were in London. The client was actually quite accommodating and understood the huge amount of pressure on us."

He added: “I don't think we've ever worked on a project that has involved screen sharing on Skype so much.”

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