Technological Advancement and Future Job Markets

You walk into a brightly-lit office, smile broadly and shake hands with the suited woman before you. She asks about your previous job experience, skills and perceived strengths. You, of course, response “productivity” because your get work done, and efficiently at that.

Fifty years from now, if not sooner, “productivity” will no longer be a desirable quality in a job candidate. If your job depends on productivity, your work can, and will, be done better by a computer. Within fifty years, you will be replaced.

There are approximately 3.5 million professional truck drivers across the United States. The job requires observation, analysis, and action; it does not require strategy, compassion, nor innovation. Within fifty years, truck drivers will be replaced self-driving, computer-run automobiles. Truck drivers will be replaced. But that’s not to say that they, or you, will lose your job and be forever unemployable

Moving forward, we must face the inevitability of technological advancement and adjust accordingly. I believe that three elements will be of utmost importance in future job markets: liberal self-directed learning, creativity, and compassion.

The world is moving at a fast pace and we each have a personal responsibility to remain aware of new technologies, and to predict the trajectory of those technologies. It’s a daunting task but understanding the modern world in the context of your personal skills and interests will help you carve out a niche in which you might competently compete for available jobs and bring something unique to the table. Ignorance and stagnation will surely set us up for failure.

Secondly, it’s vital that our self-directed learning is liberal in nature. They say that there are no new ideas, but who’s to say we can’t mesh together two, or even three unrelated ideas into something new? If you’re interested in early childhood education, homesteading and politics, you may create a summer program teaching kids how to garden and raise chickens, or you might propose a new policy that offers tax cuts to land used for homesteading. The most ideas you expose yourself to, the more opportunity that is to blend skills and knowledge into something unique to you.

Finally, compassion is going to be primary factor that will differentiate humanity from AI, at least within the next fifty-year period. Computers design is currently focused on efficiency, productivity and accuracy; AI will soon outperform humans in each of these areas, if they don’t already. Jobs that rely on empathy and compassion will be harder for computers to replace. Arguably, few people would trust a computer to assist in the birth of their child, tend to their elderly parent across the country, or walk them through their psychological ails.

The world is ever-changing, and the workforce—current and upcoming—to follow and understand the shape of things to come. At first glance, the future may appear grim at worst, and unpredictable at best. Yes, many job will be replaced by computers; yet, this opens the opportunity to explore new careers and unique innovations. As others stand paralyzed by fear, unprepared for the new paradigm as it barrels down the tracks, falling back on productivity and past performance, you could hold out your resume and be viewed as an asset: a human candidate capable of doing things differently, and better than AI.

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