In a 2016 report published by The World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs, it is estimated that 5 million jobs will be lost to automation by 2020, and that the number will continue to rise.
As a young Australian who has invested a lot into two undergraduate degrees and is carrying a pretty hefty HECS debt, this is a scary thought. Did I study the right things? AmI on the right track? Will I need to start from scratch?
Whilst organising the national Future of Youth Skills & Employment conference, I’ve done a lot of reading and spoken with some pretty interesting people about where we’re all headed in the coming decades.
I’ve pulled out the top 5 revelations that have resonated most with me:
Personalised medical advice is just an app away
New smart-device technologies are going well beyond counting our daily steps; they are now monitoring our sleep cycles, heart rate and and can even detect pancreatic cancer by analysing irregularities in the whites of our eyes via selfie photos (Read on)
Forget Latin or French, coding will be the language taught to all school children
I was always quite good at language and decided to major in Spanish at university. I believed this was a strategic choice – Spanish is the second most widely spoken language globally. However, if I’d been a little more forward-thinking, perhaps I should have spent some time looking into coding. If you know how to code, you have the power to be a key influencer in the way future technologies and automation will affect us all.
Your car will decide whether it saves your life or the two children who have run out onto the road
Yes, the driverless car topic has been on our radar for quite some time now. But what interests/concerns me more is the ethical debate underpinning the technology. Would I buy a car that is programmed to sacrifice myself to spare the lives of others? Are we comfortable leaving car manufacturers to make decisions around the comparative value of an elderly driver’s life? A driver with two children in the back? A pedestrian with a disability? I prefer not to overthink this… (Read on)
Youtube videos might soon become recognised training credentials
Speaking recently with the CIO of a leading Australian university, an interesting concept was proposed: why aren’t we making more use of the extensive amount of free knowledge available through internet training videos and blogs? We talk about the importance of lifelong learning, but this shouldn’t be limited to enrolling in expensive tertiary education courses held on Monday and Wednesday evenings just because you need ‘an extra edge’ on all those recent graduates. We need to increase professional recognition of micro credentials and other sources of training.
The changing workforce is giving us the opportunity to rethink what ‘meaningful employment’ actually is
Beyond all the glitz and glamour of AI and new technologies, the most provocative thought about the future resonates at a deeper level for me. Future thinker, Michael McAllum, believes that we should stop seeing machine learning and artificial intelligence as a threat and start reframing our thinking. What if the automation of monotonous, repetitive tasks frees us up to work in areas that define us as humans, not machines; areas like arts, design, discovery, creativity, caregiving, leadership and bringing people together.
These are the elements of work that bring community value and personal satisfaction.
These are the kinds of roles I want defining my future.