Tech taking jobs? Let’s do *this* to be prepared

I believe that when we are into learning (for lack of a better way of expressing it) we are curious, explorative, and we progress in ways that provide economic value.

The part of me that is expert on economics and markets is fascinated by the chronic under/unemployment the US has been experiencing. Explanations abound and most major issues have multiple causes. I strongly believe that the private sector tightened belts after the 2008 economic crisis, precisely at a time of budding digital efficiencies. Hiring froze, workers were laid off, and smarter solutions were found for getting work done. We see this in stock valuations. It’s truly the “jobless recovery” and a profits-fiesta out there, using a “lean” (buzzword!) workforce.

Yes the machines – the robots and A.I. and computers – are coming and taking our jobs. They’re snatchin’ your people up. As it was 100 years ago with the agricultural revolution. Technology does that. New industries then arise, like when our ancestors moved to the cities and factory work.

We’re at the start of one of those seismic shifts, but experiencing the lag before the new industries are on the scene. Are we aware of and thinking about what’s happening, are we tracking it? How are we preparing ourselves and our children? It’s an important trend to follow.

As with many others, my job did not exist a decade ago or when I finished college. There’s a good chance each of us have amazing future opportunities in areas we can’t imagine now.

I think one of the best ways to prepare is to yes, in fact, learn learn learn. Be curious, be creating, be contributing. Keep up on trends. Be in the conversations. Make content. Do extra. Do pro-bono. Whatever. Grow.

Scientific American is running a great piece Yes, Robots Are Coming for Our Jobs—Now What? by one of the authors of the book Race Against The Machine (which I thoroughly enjoyed.)

A couple points the authors make are, first:

The first [of winners in this new economy] is skilled versus less skilled workers, as a result of what’s called skill-biased technical change. As technology advances, educated workers tend to benefit more, and workers with less education tend to have their jobs automated. It’s not a perfect correlation, but there is a correlation.

So be educated. And I’d add be thoughtful about which education you get, i.e. don’t go get some degree just for the sake of a degree, but design your learning to be tailored to who you are and to marketable passions. Second:

We need to unleash entrepreneurs to find more places where humans have capabilities that machines don’t have, and where the two of them working together can create more value than just the machines alone could—what we call racing with the machine. Just as they did a century ago when people were no longer needed on the farm, people came up with whole new industries. We’re not doing that as well as we could be and have to try to jump-start that.

I love that. Let’s all develop a healthy fascination about the world and position ourselves to be ready to be part of the as-yet unknown, new industries to come.


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