Dr. Karndee Leopairote, Chief Advisor to the FutureTales Lab by MQDC, a research center founded by MQDC to study, analyze, and gather information about the future to reveal key social trends and help find solutions under a dedication to “For All Well-Being”, said that its research points to future developments in living, learning, the environment, technology, and robotics, with significant changes for Thai society in many aspects, including a greater variety of gender identities.
Dr. Pannin Sumanasrethakul, Foresight Research Director of FutureTales Lab by MQDC, said: “We have analyzed and anticipated trends for how Thai society will change to foresee people’s future lives. Our research has investigated changes from the past to the present and studied trends to reveal various dimensions of future society, covering gender, society, culture, family, economics, and politics. Our findings can be summarized into 10 key trends.
- Retirement as a Choice - Trends in career development and future careers may put an end to traditional retirement ages, which will be agreed upon between employers and employees. Future work patterns mean “Ageless Workplaces” may no longer have age restrictions, as going to work will mean learning and sharing new skills across different generations.
- Diversified Education - Greater competition in the workplace will mean that the next generation will develop expertise by studying for a qualification through formal education while simultaneously building knowledge and skills online or through other learning channels.
- End of Gender Marginalization - In the future, individuals will no longer be marginalized based on their gender identity, rather, there will be greater focus on skills, talents, and character. Moving away from traditional 2-gender identification, the gender identity spectrum will continue to increase. Current online gender classification for social media users, for example, has 58 gender1 types, reflecting the identities of most modern people.
- Gender-diverse Families - Families will consist of parents who identify anywhere on the gender identity spectrum, where traditional gender roles are replaced. Advances in reproductive science will lead to more single parents, moving away from large extended families of the past with parents and grandparents.
- Diverse Future Leaders - Next-generation leadership roles will stray away from patriarchal systems of the past, reflecting overall gender and sexuality acceptance and value judgments based on merit. Leaders are likely to be increasingly racially diverse and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Legal Relationships Between People and Technology - Humans may have officially recognized unions with artificial intelligence machines. As AI technology improves, some humans will start to find personal meaning and growth in their relationships with certain AI.
- Mixed-race Population - People are increasingly likely to marry someone from another race or country. Thais with diverse ethnic backgrounds will become more common. Statistics show that over 90% of the 27,357 foreigners living in Northeast Thailand are married to Thais2, in line with a trend in fiancee visas for the United States3, which have tripled from 12,088 to 38,403. The situation is shifting away from the past when Thais were ethnically homogenous and from today when many top leaders in Thailand have Thai-Chinese ancestry.
- The “Little Emperor” Phenomenon - Many children born now, due to shrinking family size, risk being raised as a “little emperor”. This circumstance surmises the pampering and increased attention given to single children from parents and grandparents and the high expectations placed on them as a result of being the only member of their generation. While people of working age used to dominate demographics, the proportion of elderly has increased. In China4, for example, family members, including grandparents and parents, will look after and dedicate resources to the only one child of the family.
- Growth of Secondary Cities - Urban development will continue growing along the routes of high-speed public transport systems connecting Thailand and its neighbors. The continued growth of secondary cities moves away from past regional divisions, in which each region had a main city, such as Chiang Mai in the north.
- Clan-based Politics - People with similar interests may coordinate in clan-based politics or unite over shared environmental issues, community concerns, or innovations. These subgroups within the political sphere will use their collective voices to reach policy makers and draw attention to issues they represent.
"There are 10 key future phenomena for Thai society amid increasingly complex and diverse social changes. Further research is needed to properly design regulations in response to complex future social developments," said Dr. Pannin.