The World is Changing — You Need to Stay Current With Your Skills. But first we need to understand the nature of the problem.
Sections of This Guide
- Historical Context
- How Machines Learn
- Impact on Employment
- Industry Outlook
- Social Impact
A revolution is sweeping the world at this very moment. It promises things like:
- Robotic maids,
- Replaceable body parts,
- Virtual worlds, and
- Augmented Reality.
In fact, a number of technologies are now converging from a number of different technologies such as:
That’s the good news. New “toys for the boys.”
The bad news? The growth of machine learning and machine intelligence means that to stay employable many of us will have to “up our game.”
The Impossibility of Being a Luddite. Today, it’s a social taboo to be a Luddite, meaning someone who opposes technological progress. The original Luddites were highly skilled craftsman in the textile industry who destroyed machines (Conniff, 2011). Not all machines, just the ones replacing their jobs with lower skilled, lower paid workers. In fact, Queen Elizabeth I denied patents if new technology would cause her people to lose jobs.
But today, there is no counter pressure from the political elites to say that jobs are more important than progress. One wonders why decision makers everywhere assume that all tech is good.
Will Professionals Be Replaced? Let’s say that you want to find a therapist to help deal with a personal problem. In the old days, you might hop in a car and drive to an office. Today, you can sit in your home, Skype or talk by phone to someone you will never meet in person. Perhaps you can even get advise via text or Twitter. And maybe the entity participating in the therapy isn’t even human, it’s an AI (artificial intelligence) programmed to act like a therapist.
Therapy by machine you say? Impossible. Well it has already happened and it works in the treatment of depression using a set of heuristics from Beck’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
The Race Against The Machine — TEDxBoston – Andrew McAfee
This is the first video the really made members of the aware that something unique was going on.
Watson Beets Jeopardy Champions (Segment from The Show Jeopardy)
The importance of this milestone, cannot be overestimated. And it happened in 2011
Social Robotics Make it Big as a Real Product
Not only can an AI system exist on a server or multiple servers anywhere on the Net, but we are starting to see great strides in social robotics — systems that mimic human relationships and complex emotions such as empathy.
Video used in crowdsourcing Jibo, a fundraising campaign the made over 3.7 million dollars on Indiegogo.
A Little Bit About How they Learn
A must view presentation from a computer scientist who has long been in the field.
The Impact on Employment
These and other trends are likely to result in the loss of a number of jobs. In fact, one well thought out, well researched study out of
The (Predicted) Impact on Employment
Some economists still predict employment will not be impacted by this technology. And some government officials are clearly in denial. Probably, the best that can be said is the this technology will follow the diffusion of innovation curve.
How Many Jobs Might be At Risk
Oxford in the U.S economy, 47% of jobs are at risk over the next 20 years.Access the Source Research: The Future of Employment.
Types of Job at Risk
So you might ask, what type of jobs are most at risk? Again, there are guidance on this as well.
Access the Article: Future Economy
For example, one can make an argument that driverless cars won’t have that much impact. But the same cannot be said about trucks. In America, there are about 3 million drivers that could suffer job loss. Not only that, but those who work in restaurants and motels serving this industry are also at risk.
Access the article: On Self-Driving Trucks: The Social and Economic Impact
The Future of Jobs and Jobs Training. Pew Research Center (May 3, 2017)
This is a jewel. It contains expert opinion — some pretty good and others not so insightful
Access: Nine Jobs at Risk — NBC News
Most article don’t make predictions this one does.
How to prepare America’s retail workers for technological change
(The Economist, May 12, 2017)
IT USED to be the American shopper that exemplified the state of the world economy. The focus now should be on the person on the other side of the till. America’s retail industry is huge: it employs 15.9m workers, who represent one in nine American jobs. It is also undergoing wrenching change, as e-commerce eats into sales.
The Social Impact
As technology renders jobs obsolete, what will keep us busy? Sapiens author Yuval Noah Harari examines ‘the useless class’ and a new quest for purpose Most jobs that exist today might disappear within decades. As artificial intelligence outperforms humans in more and more tasks, it will replace humans in more and more jobs. Many new professions are likely to appear: virtual-world designers, for example (from the article by The Guardian, 8 May 2017)
Artificial Intelligence Threatens the Future of Capitalism (Venture Beat, May 8, 2017)
Considering most countries use some form of capitalism, it might mean that things might change more than we can anticipate.
What Roles Are Difficult For the Machines?
Keep the following guidelines in mind if you want to stay organizationally employable long-term.
Be An Entrepreneur
You can’t fire the big boss — well that not quite true. Since most entrepreneurs are wise enough not to go public and have a board of directors they have life-time employment as long as they have a strong balance and they’re not stupid enough to let others control 51% of the stock.
Get to the c-Level
Honestly, sometimes I think a public corporation would if it could maximize profits by downsizing to one employee. Actually, a cynic would say that in a corporation of one, the poor CEO would likely keep a small group of sycophants to boss around. Remember, c-level executives rarely fire themselves for incompetence or to improve the bottom line.
Avoid Process Jobs, Find Project Work
Stay away from jobs where you do the same thing the same way. If you’re doing the same thing the same way, a machine can likely do it faster with fewer mistakes. Since projects have more variation that process, expert systems will have a tougher time doing it. That’s why one should consider developing project management skills.
Get Into Sales
I know, no self-respecting business major wants a job in sales. Huge mistake. Sales is the launch pad that rockets you into really understanding people (and why they buy no less).
Learn to Create and to Innovate
It sometimes thought that expert systems may not be able to create. They can learn, surely. But can they come up with ideas beyond their program parameters? Can they create art? Can they write a book? Actually, the last one is not so clear. Programs are already writing articles.
Add More Skills Beyond the Technical
Technical skills are important, but become less important as your responsibilities increase. As you get promoted other skill domains become more critical. Remember, entrepreneurs and executives rarely solve just technical problems.
Acquino, Judith Careers on NBCNews.com, Nine Jobs That Humans May Lost to Robots. Extracted on May 2016.
Brynjolfsson, Eric and Mcafee, Andrew (2012) Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy. Paperback.
Brynjolfsson, Eric and Mcafee, Andrew, (2011) Why Workers Are Losing the War Against Machines, The Atlantic. October 26.
Conniff, Richard (2011). What The Luddites Really Fought Against, Smithsonian Magazine. March.
Frey, Carl and Osborne, Michael (2013). The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?, Oxford University. Paper.
Ford, Martin (2015). Rise of the Robots. Basic Books
Rosenberg, Tina (2015). Depressed? Try Therapy Without The Therapist, New York Times, June 19.
Santens, Scott (2015). Self-Driving Trucks Are Going to Hit Us Like a Human-Driven Truck. Huffington Post, May 18.
Shinal, John (2014). Future Economy: Many Will Lost Jobs To Computers. USA Today, March 21.