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“Future Smart” – the Job Skills Required in the Future

Is She a Robot?The girl is really a live human who just happens to have a 1000 mile stare. She is not a robot, although I have been reading articles where in the future, robots will come close to being indistinguishable from humans. The day that happens is the beginning of the end of humans. Apparently, there is already an AI that passes a Turing test, which basically tests how well AI can fool humans into believing the AI is a human rather than an artificial intelligence.

So robots are coming in our future. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m reading Future Smart by James Canton where he has such an overly positive take on what the future brings. But he has a chapter, “Chapter 11 – The Game Changing Future of Work and Jobs”, where he starts to come down from his positivity. In this future, he describes an economic system where innovation is the basis for success: “Humans must run this Innovation Ecosystem, but every year, until 2030, a creeping and pervasive autonomy of machines over humans will continue to emerge. Dangers lie in the future if we over-rely on Smart Machines to run our world.” (Page 203, hardcover).

I read through the chapter to see what skills he recommends that computers cannot do. He really doesn’t address this. He says that people need to get good with math, science and computers but those are areas that computers are naturally going to be better than humans. Instead, he spelled out a statistic that 80% of the labor will be done by automation (page 216, hardcover). That statistic is much worse than the 50% I’ve been reading elsewhere and that was bad enough.

He does suggest some broad skill sets that might help us: being entrepreneurial, being innovative, being adaptable, and constantly learning. “You have to have a high tolerance for chaos, learn to manage complex information from different sources, be a quick learner, understand data, function in a team or lead on, and stand up for what you think is right. You have to become an Investigator of the future to predict what’s needed and what’s coming, to pay attention to what the competition is doing, and most of all, to learn to think like an entrepreneur – be innovative, agile, and take risks.” (Page 202, hardcover.)

He does mention that society is going to have to change, although he does not say that directly. Instead he hopes that we will develop AI that will complement or work with humans rather than replace them. He also hopes that we will prefer humans rather than robots. But I really don’t want to depend on the rest of society, especially those with the capital (finance types, hedge funds, etc), to suddenly become nice.

As long as we still have a value system that places the capitalist idea of shareholder over workers,
we will see, instead, a huge shift in investment from people to machines.

That is why we need a change in our value system. The author does talk about how companies will need to place social good over profit. Hopefully (ah, there’s hope again), the millennial will have a better value system. They have borne the brunt of the Great Recession and maybe they will see things differently. Such a thin thing to rest our hopes on.


Notes on Future Jobs

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