Ever hear a friend say they are being paid to be a robot because so much of their job is repetitive? The bad news for these people is that, with advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence, these jobs ARE going away. The good news for these people is that these jobs are going away! But things are never that black and white. It’s more about tasks and activities going away. Most of the jobs themselves will remain (that is, those people will remain in employment) but the “job” will look nothing like what it does today. Not only will the majority of jobs stay and be transformed, but a significant number of never-seen-before jobs will also be created. If you are a person who is comfortable with change, life-learning and excited by the idea of moving outside your comfort zone, then you can consider your future income safe. If you excel at these things, you stand to be quite successful. However, fear of change and avoiding change are common. The human brain, by its nature, likes repetition because it allows it to create neural shortcuts. These shortcuts require less brain power, freeing up the processing power to be applied elsewhere, to other not so familiar activities. Ever drive to work in the morning and think, gosh I can hardly remember that journey? That’s a neural shortcut!
We are living in exciting times technologically-speaking, and change is happening at an alarming pace. The skills we will need for the future will be dramatically different to the ones that were valued in the past. Anything that can be digitized or automated will be. It stands to reason then, that the skills not easily digitized and automated are the ones that will become most valuable. Traits like creativity, imagination, intuition, emotion and ethics. These things that come so naturally to us as humans, will be what sets us apart in the future world of work as we try to maintain our humanity in a digital world. We will become next-generation knowledge workers, paid to think and paid to understand how others think. But more than that, we will be paid to think ethically, paid to think empathetically, paid to understand and appeal to human emotions, paid to decipher human psychology and behaviours (the good and the bad).
For our children entering the workforce a few years from now, we must encourage them to consider having aspects of these human skills in their education and experience. Subject combinations, that in my college days might have been perceived as “unusual combinations with difficult job prospects” will become more the norm. Expect to see more of technology + psychology, technology + sociology, criminology + systems science, technology + art, occupational health + telemetry, biology and circuitry, cybersecurity + town planning, machine learning + ethics, speech therapy and A.I., virtual assistant design + counselling. Expect to see exciting new jobs advertised like personality design engineer, facial features specialists, bias detective, virtual holiday designer, digital twin consultant, human emulation engineer etc. In the future, you may be paid just to be human. Why? Because…
Machines are very good at being robots, but they are only average at being human.