Although automation makes a lot of headlines for eliminating jobs, economic research has repeatedly indicated that automation actually increases overall standards of living, literacy rates and average life spans while leading to lower crime rates.
After the Industrial Revolution and the dawn of the Information Age, people are living better lives than any other time in the history of society. Even nomadic sheep headers who live around the Sahara desert and on the fringe of modern society use mobile phones to track storms and life-giving rains.
According to United Nations data, poverty has decreased more in the past five decades than in the previous 50. The aspects of progress are often criticized for carving out jobs in the bottom end of the workforce, but progress still helps that portion of the labor force to raise their standard of living, at least by making products they use cheaper, better and longer lasting.
What will the AI economy look like?
The world’s top tech businesses are racing to build the most effective artificial intelligence systems and capture that enormous emerging market: IBM has Watson; Amazon has Alexa; Apple has Siri; and Google, Facebook and Microsoft all have labs dedicated to artificial intelligence. The result of all this competition will be systems that improve quickly and get to market quickly.
At first, the increased automation of work will cause the loss of more knowledge-based jobs. Low-level accounting, basic writing, stock trading and other iterative jobs will be taken over by artificial intelligence programs that leverage high processing power to produce balance sheets, simple news articles and steady, acceptable returns on investments.
What should working people do?
Successful people in the artificial intelligence age will focus on work that takes advantage of distinctive human strengths, like social interaction, creative thinking, nuanced decision making, empathy and questioning existing systems.
Simply put, commercial artificial intelligence systems aren’t “human” enough yet and probably won’t be for the foreseeable future. Therefore, these systems can’t think abstractly and cannot process information they don’t have. While automation can be used to customize your Facebook newsfeed based on what you’ve previously liked or commented on, it can’t give you something you never knew you might like, like a music video from an obscure band or a recipe for your next favorite dish. Only people can think in that “almost-but-not-quite-random” way.
The most valuable individuals in an era of iterative information will be the individuals who ask useful questions and disrupt existing systems. A software program doesn’t have the capacity to come up with an outside-the-box solution to an inefficient process; it simply just keeps chugging along, taking in inputs and generating outputs.
With so much of the economy now dependent on innovation, creativity, the ability to communicate new ideas, and leading others will be more valuable than ever.
At Thompson Technologies, we work with talented professionals to find the jobs of today, while preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow. Please contact us today to find out more about how we can advance your career into the future.