News from the future

Dateline: 17 June 2023

The prophets of doom have been hard at work for the past decade, telling us that automation, robotics and machine learning are going to destroy jobs and leave millions of people unemployed and destitute. The reality has been somewhat different!

Yes, some jobs have been taken over by the machines. But they're the dirty and dangerous jobs that most people did not want to do. Who wants to be a farm labourer or a production-line worker?

It also true that many higher-level jobs have changed. AI systems now handle legal research, basic architectural design and much medical diagnosis. But this has enabled people to move themselves up the value-chain. Human empathy, curiosity and innovation remain beyond the reach of the machines.

A slew of new jobs has emerged. Just as web developers and social media managers were unheard of in the 1980s, so the marketplace has demanded new skills, from personalized health workers to remote controlled vehicle operators and customer experience experts. The care, creative, technology and business service sectors are booming.

The biggest change has been in the nature of work. Augmentation is the name of the game. High-skill activities like surgery, for example, are now delivered much more effectively through a powerful combination of human judgement and machine processing capacity and speed.

With robotic, 3D and 4D manufacturing in full swing, many companies have refocused their attention on services - and no-one, or nothing, is better at delivering service than motivated human beings.

The overall result is dramatically improved productivity in virtually every sphere. We've all benefited, but none more so than the poor, through access to cheaper goods and services. It's a race with, not against, the machines.

This article is brought to you by <a href=:" target="_blank">FutureWorld. A global network of business practitioners and futurists, with vast experience in running businesses, innovating, executing and answering the challenges their clients. Their futurists can help you understand the context of the marketplace in which your business will operate in the future, and choose your ideal future and fast-track its creation. Despite appearances to the contrary, FutureWorld cannot and does not predict the future. This series of articles is fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical.

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