The title above is a paraphrase of a sentence that futurist Gerd Leonhard wrote in a an article entitled 2017: GOODBYE TO THE AGE OF REPLICATION, WELCOME BACK TO ORIGINALITY: PRODUCTIVITY… IS FOR ROBOTS. It is a fascinating take on what we may soon be facing in the world of work. Gerd says that what humans in the future will have to work on will be creative positions.
Rapid advance of technology
His premise is that technology is advancing very rapidly, so rapidly that jobs that involve repeatable or routine tasks will totally disappear. I don’t think any of us are surprised at that. I have written about that as well. In fact in Future Friday: 47% of US Employees in Jobs that could be Robotized we learn that, due to algorithms, even complex jobs will be taken over. Gerd says that science, government, legal work and surgery just as much as manufacturing, transportation and hotel services will be replaced and productivity will become the task of robots. He says that “The richly ironic fact is that the truly human skills (such as artisan and craft abilities) that preceded the industrial revolution will now be the only ones that will guarantee fruitful employment in future.”
Education cannot help
Gerd’s contention is that our hope of retraining people for jobs of the future will not work. If that work is routine and repeatable it will be replaced. So new jobs, such as truck drivers transitioning to drone flyers will not work. Robots will fly the drones soon after that transition is made. What do we do with those workers then?
Make them “artists”
Gerd says the only thing that will save jobs in the future is creativity. We need to have people doing things where everything they do is unique. Every product made is a new creation. Every person will have to wake up each day to a blank canvas of what needs to be created. He says this job extinction will reach into the professional ranks as well.
“Human beings will be reserved for untrodden paths where process and routine has never ventured. The model here is the entrepreneur and the artist – not the ‘professional’, the ‘expert’ or the ‘qualified’. Entrepreneurial crafts will replace today’s same old, same old jobs and roles, and we’ll see a tidal wave of professional extinction joining yesteryear’s telephonists, weavers, coopers and axe-head carvers….If you’ve been automated out of a job, re-education will no longer secure your rescue – far better to learn how artists and inventors ideate (seemingly) out of nothing, because where there are no precedents, there can be no artificial intelligence, no algorithms.”
The challenge will be to turn a society of people who are used to repetition and routine into a entrepreneurial crafts person. How do we teach creativity?
Perhaps our transition to the gig economy is not such a bad thing after all.
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