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Programme one : Amateur v Professional

Sunday 29 July, 1925BST BBC Two
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Schoolboy Jonathan Lebed got into big trouble - for making a fortune in his bedroom.

Working from his computer, the 15-year-old did his homework on the US stock exchange and made $800,000 by the time he was fifteen.

Schoolboy Jonathan Lebed describes how he made a fortune thanks to the internet.  real 56k

In one day alone, Jonathan banked nearly $70,000 after posting hundreds of messages on the internet, urging people to buy shares in a toy company.

The price shot up and he then sold his own shares at a huge profit.

But the US financial authorities were not happy, claiming Jonathan had manipulated the market.

Jonathan eventually settled out of court with the authorities - he paid back $300,000 of the money he had made, but kept half a million dollars.

In his defence, Jonathan, from New Jersey, USA, claims he was only doing what the professionals do every day.

He says: "I think that, with the technology we have today with the internet, it makes everybody equal and they definitely do have a chance of being right up there with the Wall Street professionals."

Legal Eagle

Writer Michael Lewis met many people like Jonathan during the filming of The Future Just Happened.

Marcus ArnoldTeenager Marcus Arnold, 15, started giving legal advice on the internet just six months ago, initially telling people he was 20.

During that time, he answered almost a thousand queries, including giving advice to the mother of a man charged with first-degree murder.

So highly-rated was his advice, that the users of one prominent website voted him the best legal expert out of a field of over one hundred offering advice, many of them much better legally qualified.

Arnold Marcus may only be 15, but many people turn to him for legal advice rather than to qualified lawyers.  real 56k

Marcus, whose ultimate ambition is to be a Supreme Court judge, has attracted criticism from some lawyers.

But he says: "I'm just like everyone out there, I want to be noticed. I mean I'm 15 right now; I want people to know who I am".

"I'm not there to take business away from other people, that's not my job."

Equality for all

Michael Lewis's former workplaceThe internet is turning the world into a level playing field for youngsters like Marcus who have no formal qualifications, says Lewis.

It is in stark contrast to the eighties, when he worked as an investment banker - the profession for ambitious youngsters at the time.

Now, when Lewis visits his old banking friends, he finds a profession in decline.

The privileged information on which their livelihood depended has been made available to all through new technology, and banking is finding it hard to recruit the brightest young people.

The new elite

So where is all this taking us? Lewis joins tomorrow's elite, the computer science students at Harvard.

Computer Science students at Harvard.The subject may be as boring as banking, but today's students see it as the key to success.

Their style is casual; the uniform is the open-necked shirt. The new elite is a world away from the old professions and oblivious to the authority they used to command.

In the first programme in the series, Lewis investigates what is left of the world of suits and status.

And he finds that it's all gone west, to Silicon Valley, where brains and youth count for more than experience and tradition.

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