Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Future of Work is Philosophy

The future of work is a hot topic these days. Research here indicates almost half of U.S. jobs could soon be automated. A scary number! It seems that telemarketers, accountants and taxi drivers need to dust off their CVs, whereas jobs needing creativity, manual dexterity and empathy have a much longer shelf life.

I cheer to the thinking that higher order ‘human’ soft skills like creativity, dexterity and empathy are beyond replication and automation. This is not to negate the incredible value that AI might bring to the owners of manufacturing and service companies, nor its ability to put more heart into its chip. However for me it’s the emotional quotient (EQ), not the technological quotient (TQ) that commands the future’s premiums. It figures that employers in advanced economies are avidly seeking skills like critical thinking and creativity.

What counts most ahead is the ability to dream new ideas, reverse our thinking, and make new connections. Machines will do emotion better, but in my view never match human potential. Here is a prescient viewpoint that I think observes the future well. It’s from Charlotte Blease, research fellow at the school of philosophy at University College Dublin, in a Guardian column “Philosophy can teach children what Google can’t:”
“How should educationalists prepare young people for civic and professional life in a digital age? Luddite hand-wringing won’t do. Redoubling investment in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects won’t solve the problem either: hi-tech training has its imaginative limitations. In the near future school-leavers will need other skills. In a world where technical expertise is increasingly narrow, the skills and confidence to traverse disciplines will be at a premium. We will need people who are prepared to ask, and answer, the questions that aren’t Googleable…As a society we need to be more philosophically engaged.”
Amen to that.