Out Thinking Robots is the Key to a Job in the Future

by Michael Haberman on May 3, 2013 · 1 comment


 

One of the first sessions I attended at SHRM Atlanta’s 23rd annual conference was that of Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, VP and Managing Director of the Apollo Research Institute. Her presentation of Society 3.0 Future Skills Future Work made the point that out thinking robots will be key to having a job in the future.

3-D printer Photo credit Wikipedia

3-D printer
Photo credit Wikipedia

Ten Work Skills

In her thought provoking presentation, Tracey delineated 10 jobs skills that she said will be critical in the future. These include:

  1. Sense-making
  2. Social intelligence
  3. Novel and adaptive thinking
  4. Cross cultural competency
  5. Computational thinking
  6. New media literacy
  7. Transdisciplinarity
  8. Design mindset
  9. Cognitive load management
  10. Virtual collaboration

A post I wrote a recently talks about some of these same issues and I pointed why it will be important in jobs of the future to be “human”. Future Friday: Why it will be important for jobs to be more “Human.” I want to explore three of her job skills a bit further.

Sense-making

She defined this as “UBER critical thinking.” Robots or artificial intelligence (AI) can collect data. Machines are doing more and more of that. The concept of “big data” has been introduced. The amount of data collected is enormous and it is necessary for AI to sort and classify the data. However, it takes a human to interpret what that data means. We will need to have employees who have been trained and have the ability to interpret the patterns the data presents and then decide what to do with that data. Machines cannot yet do that.

Novel and adaptive thinking

This was defined as “Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based.” We can program machines to respond to patterns in data. But we have to understand that data before we can do that. We have to recognize the meaning and come up with new ways of dealing with that data. Learn to manipulate data in order to create novel outcomes. One of the examples she used was 3-D printing. They were created to produce three dimensional products by putting down successive layers of material. In an example of novel thinking a doctor used a 3-D printer to “print” layers of living tissue to create an ear as a replacement for people who have lost their external ear tissue. The machine was able to handle the process but not create the concept.

Virtual collaboration

She defined this as “Ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.” It is certainly possible to get machines to work in concert. In fact, this is how many large computational issues are tackled. An interesting technology that Tracey introduced was that of Anybot, a robot that stands –in to make up for the physical absence of a team member. But what drives the collaboration is the person using that technology rather than the technology itself. The ideas and insights that come from this type of collaboration are beyond, currently anyway, the capability of robots and AI.

Creative job creation

The message from her presentation is that people need to think of different things for the future of their careers, and the emphasis is on THINKING AND PLANNING. A statistic that was startling was the amount of time people spend per year planning their career. While we spend 946.4 hours in sports and leisure activity, 400.4 hours in household activities, and 22.5 hours planning a vacation we only spend 1.5 hours a year in career planning.

My message for HR professionals is to start thinking of your jobs in terms of what can be replaced by robots and what needs to stay exclusively human. The work on creating the path to that future work.

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