Future’s Work: Threats and Opportunities

THE FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES AND THE BIG OF THE SILICON VALLEY

Our lives are changing faster and faster, every day there are new types of technologies and it is nearly impossible to assimilate all the information regarding these topics.

Following the evolution of technologies has become essential and not doing so would mean to be excluded from the society in which we live.

From today to the next 5 years, the hot topics will be: Hyperloop, self-driving car, mind sharing, helpful home, sharing economy, self-tracking, quantified self, nano architectures, apple pay, cinematic reality, car-to-car communication, project loon, liquid biopsy, brain organoids, superhuman photosynthesis, large-scale desalination, DNA internet, neuro-hacking, quantum, nanotechnology, darker networks, universal translators, avatars, robots, fuel cell vehicles, thermosetting recyclable plastic, genetic engineering, additive manufacturing, distributed production, drone “sense and avoid “, neuromorphic technology, digital genome, digital assistants, free internet for all, quantum computers, space vacations, ultra-reality, disease prevention, x-ray, big date and pollution control.

These are just some of the topics we’ll have to deal with, many of them, although they have been developing for some years, may be still unknown to most readers.

Getting informed has become essential in order to adapt ourselves in the best way.

We are faced with an unprecedented technological revolution: in order to stay updated it is necessary to follow people that are doing the future right now. Silicon Valley’s Big 9 are Peter Shankman (founder of Haro), James Altucher (entrepreneur, podcast and author), Alec Cross (former senior consultant of Hilary Clinton and author), Mariam Naficy (Minted.com CEO and board member of Yelp), Chamath Palihapitiya (Chief Financial Officer), Kevin Rose (Hodinkee’s CEO and Digg’s co-founder), Sam Rosen (CEO of MakerSpace), Andrew Torba (AutomateAds.com) and Tim O’Reilly (founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media).

TECHNOLOGY AND THE WORLD OF WORK

Surely, one of the most disruptive technology on the working world will be robotics. The ONU has even launched an alarm bell: according to the most reliable estimates, about 66% of professions will be replaced by machines.

Nevertheless, it is not said that man must necessarily be afraid of evolution, what distinguishes us from any other being is our cortical bark.

The cerebral cortex is a continuous laminar layer that represents the most outer part of the telencephalons in vertebrates. Formed by neurons and nerve fibres with a thickness of about 2-4 mm, the human brain cortex plays a central role in complex cognitive mental functions such as thought, awareness, memory, attention, and language.

The cerebral cortex is considered to be the most evolved and complex structure of all living systems and is precisely what allowed our species to survive.

According to different analyses, this will not be about job destruction, but transformation of professionalism.

The ONU, through the Unctad Report (United Nations Conference on Trade And Development) “Robot and Industrialization in Developing Countries”, reported that robotics will replace half of the jobs, in particular in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In addition, according to the World Economic Forum, the evolution of work will result in the creation of 2 million new jobs, but at the same time 7 million jobs will disappear.

Despite these analyses, however, the opposite is widespread, that job losses are only a transitory drawback and that in the long run there will be many benefits.

According to Klaus Schwab, founder and executive of the World Economic Forum, robots and artificial intelligence will not replace human beings but will free them and give them more time to do other works, much more rewarding.

The real danger is that the drop in employment will be faster than the creation of new job roles. This can be avoided through a careful planning of our economies.

Another interesting point of view can be represented by Uber’s response to Sharan Burrow, Secretary General of the International Trade Union Confederation, following the accusations received.

Uber’s founders do not believe that they are destroying taxi drivers job market, but that they are making people free from slavery to work from 8 am to the evenings and not to have the possibility to manage their time freely.

A NEW WORKING CONCEPT

John Maynard Keynes already at the beginning of the twentieth century talked about “technological unemployment”, arguing that automation would progressively remove man from the labour market by replacing them with more efficient machines.

The direct consequence of this phenomenon is an increase in real income (net of inflation), which leads to an increase in demand in new sectors by opening up new occupational spaces. If until now “technological unemployment” is still a concern, the fear that from here to a near future what was predicted long time ago by Keynes could really happen is approaching.

The range of activities the machines can accomplish today is very wide and with time these will expand with cops, shopkeepers, barman, co-workers, attorneys, carers, bureaucrats and journalists for example.

In Hong Kong, a venture capital company, Deep Knowledge, has named in its board of directors an artificial technology called Vital, giving it the same voting right as all other components. This technology allows them to calculate the best investments.

The relationship between man and machine will completely change the concept of work.

One of the most positive performers will be the re-shoring phenomenon, which reverses the tendency of outsourcing to markets at a lower cost of labour.

Advanced technology automation is helping this change by allowing companies to remain competitive in terms of cost and to maintain production in their own country.

The Institute of the Future of Palo Alto (California, USA), a research institute specialized in long-term and quantitative research on the future, predicts that in a globalized and more and more computer-based world, phenomena such as automation, growth of online work and sharing economy are redesigning the job.

In an age of growing instability and uncertainty over the future of professions and works, it becomes increasingly important to acquire, develop and upgrade the skills needed to move flexibly and effectively through constantly changing contexts and working conditions.

Most likely the worst jobs will disappear, while those requiring soft skills and cross-skills will be the most demanding.

SKILLS FOR COMPETITIVE RETURNING

Researchers at Phoenix University have highlighted in a forward-looking research the new work-skills that will allow employee to remain competitive and that will have a growing weight in the future.

Here is a brief list:

  1. Social intelligence: includes communicative and relational skills, leadership, negotiation and conflict management;
  2. Adaptive thinking: ability to identify solutions beyond the predefined reference frames;
  3. Cross-cultural competence: ability to relate to multicultural contexts;
  4. Computational mentality: Flexible mentality with computational skills, i.e. the ability to organize abstract concepts from large amounts of data;
  5. New Media Skills: Media Capabilities and Persuasive Content Production.
  6. Transdisciplinary: ability to understand, integrate and apply aspects of different disciplines to your work;
  7. Design-oriented mentality: ability to graphically represent objectives and processes that are implemented to achieve them.
  8. Ability to collaborate in virtual environments: group work extended to virtual teams.
  9. Cognitive Load Management: Ability to filter, select and organize information appropriately (implies the ability to keep attention and concentration, as well as to shift the focus of attention in a functional way).
  10. Sense making: ability to “give meaning” to information and situations, grasping its profound meaning.

More and more important will be the management of your time, which will be recognized as a valuable asset of value. This will enable you to achieve and maintain a stable working situation while at the same time letting you to spend part of your time on private life.

 

Matteo Spiller