Look at existing trends. In other words, what is the current thinking about the future?
The reasons to work for large companies (job security, opportunities for advancement, health insurance) are rapidly diminishing; and it's getting increasingly easier to work remotely.
Seek out "weak signals," or trends-to-be, and then extrapolate them into a vision of the future.
Holograms could be important in remote work environments; more research could be conducted by machines; and certain people might opt out of connectivity entirely, hiding behind firewalls.
Assemble a scenario, then "backcast" to see what has to happen for us to get there.
Scientists make themselves available to companies on a freelance basis; and the most successful researchers become like Hollywood stars—the most in-demand and the best compensated for their services.
A version of this article appeared in the November 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.