In a world where jobs define people..

..what happens when jobs become obsolete?

Back in 2010, while completing my Masters in Applied Imagination in London, I was researching a hypothesis on creativity (or the lack of) in jobs–how that would matter in the current and future economies and how that would affect global psychologies and mental health.

Less than a decade later, this hypothesis is already becoming reality. A recent report analyses past trends and future predictions on the effect of automation of jobs.

“At first, technologists issued dystopian alarms about the power of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to destroy jobs. Then came a correction, with a wave of reassurances. Now, the discourse appears to be arriving at a more complicated understanding, suggesting that automation will bring neither apocalypse nor utopia, but instead both benefits and stress alike. Such is the ambiguous and sometimes disembodied nature of the “future of work” discussion.”

The good news is, only one quarter of the jobs fall under the “high risk” spectrum. These jobs mostly involve routine physical and cognitive tasks such as office administration, production, transportation, and food preparation. These jobs are highly susceptible to being easily automated and hence run the risk to be the firsts to render some folks jobless. Of course, other jobs would get affected too. Most will have to alter job descriptions to accommodate moderate to high levels of automation. New jobs will be created. Work environments will change. And education will be affected too.

Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/@bernardhermant

All this change, unfortunately, is happening at a really fast pace and the world is becoming more and more competitive and hard to keep up with. The availability of information and resources that we have today is unprecedented but so are stress levels and mental instability. Does that mean we are heading towards an unstable future where there is mass unrest, instability and insecurity? Will creativity play a role in keeping some people and jobs relevant? What skills will be relevant and with the growing competition, what will set some candidates apart from the others? How can we make our kids future ready?

9 years ago, I discussed these possibilities with Ian Pearson, a leading futurist, author and entrepreneur. Looking back, I find some of it is already relevant.

Privacy breach, cyber security, mass shootings, twitter wars, inappropriate online content — these are all plaguing the news and may not be too far from hinting a world of mental instability and unrest. On the other hand, we are seeing more and more companies subscribing to AI technologies and cloud computing, especially the ones that deal with sensitive information such as banking, data and defense. Mass production is making things more affordable, yet moneyed people are drawn towards individual craftsmanship and personalized customer service which are the new form of luxury. Education is not just about going to school to learn math and science, but it’s about interactivity, development of soft human skills such as compassion, honesty and leadership.

We live in a world that is changing ever minute, physically and emotionally. Here are a few strategies on how to cope. The only way to keep up, in my opinion, is to stay human: towards nature, towards each other. Ultimately, that’s what will keep the machines from taking over our jobs (and us.)

Storyteller • Designer • What ‘if’ Enthusiast www.anujasinghal.com

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