This piece evolved out of an accumulation of ideas and insights from a range of sources about the skills that future workers should have to be successful in the next generation or two.* It also is a call for radical academic curricular changes both in content, focus and teaching style. In all cases, experience in the STEAM curriculum is essential. However, STEAM skills need to be woven into a liberal arts “habits of thinking” to assure the best decision-making, both short term and equally as critical, longterm effects. The capacity to think deeply and reflectively as to the broader ramifications of actions across the human and technology spectrum, beyond short-term profits, financial viability or power acquisition, should be elemental for any decision. The changes ahead will have profound ramifications and how humans manage them will have significant effects on the human society.
*World Economic Forum 2017 – 4th Industrial Revolution; Risks Report 2018, Internet of Things 2018, Re-Skilling Revolution 2018
*McKinsey Report September 2017 – Getting Ready For the Future of Work
*University of Oxford – The Oxford Martin on Technology and Employment
*Kevin Kelly –The Inevitable
*McAfee and Brynjolfsson – Machine, Platform, Crowd….
*Steven Pinker – Enlightenment Now:….
*WSJ, NYT, Forbes Reports
The Future World and Change
Economic value creation is and will be increasingly based on the use of ever higher levels of specialized skills and knowledge, (as opposed production of the traditional value-based tangible products – inherent in the capitalist system of the past 2 centuries) creating unprecedented new opportunities for some individuals while threatening to leave others with diminished opportunities, affecting a significant share of the workforce. Workers will have to adapt quickly, rushing to acquire a broad set of new skills that will help them survive a fast-changing job market; these include problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity, as well as developing a habit of lifelong learning and new habits of thinking.
In the short-term, people already in the workplace will be forced to adapt and re-skill. While students K-16 (the “workers of the future”) will need to be “schooled” in very new ways.
It is these individuals, present and future, who will succeed in the economy of the future. They will have to develop the capacity to blend the inherently human and non-machine skills, those defined as “social intelligence”, to work in complement with machine intelligence. Machines are more comprehensive and accurate in data sourcing “intelligence” (learning/ artificial machines) or repetitive motion and predictable action (robotics), driven by mechanical or algorithmic technologies than humans. They are exponentially more rapid and efficient producing far better results than humans in design, production quality at a notable lower cost to the producer and ultimately the consumer. Businesses will acquire these technologies and adapt new business models to maintain competitiveness. And so more people without these essential skills will be forced out of the traditional workforce resulting in significant social, economic and emotional disruption. That humans will invariably be working alongside machines, whether in an artificial augmentation or augmented intelligence platform, is inevitable.
This inevitability and the resulting affects on human cultures is critically important to acknowledge, now. It raises a whole new sense and set of imperatives in how humans manage, adjust and optimize their future or potentially that humans will become secondary drivers in their place on Earth. It means that new skills compatible with this blending of human and machine is going to be required to make the most of what the machines can do for the humans. And as a result how human development evolves.
Action now is imperative.