How we can best prepare for job automation - and for the strengthening of our communities too

Graphic:  Noma Bar

Graphic: Noma Bar

…And we’re back! We hope you had a restful and rejuvenating holiday season. Now, returning to the unbreaking of politics…

Here’s a very concise answer to a question we often raise at A/UK - what should our community response be to the advance of robots, AI and automation upon a whole range of routine human jobs? Martin Ford is an excellent commentator on the issue of the impact of machines replacing human labour (see this blog post highlighting his radar skills).

On the Quora answer site, he published his own concise response to the question: How do people prepare for AI taking over their jobs? An excerpt below:

The best way to prepare is to transition away from things that are largely routine and predictable. Try to find a role that is largely focused on tasks that are not easy to automate.

I think this generally includes 3 areas:

  1. Creative work — where you are building something new, thinking outside the box in non-predictable ways, etc.

  2. Human-centered work — where you build sophisticated relationships with people. This would include caring roles, as with a nurse or social worker, but also business roles where you need a need understanding of your clients.

  3. Skilled trade work — this includes jobs that require lots of mobility, dexterity and flexibility in unpredictable environments. Examples would be electricians or plumbers. Building a robot that can do these jobs is probably far in the future.

What you do NOT want is to be the person who’s only role is to sit in front of a computer performing some predictable task—like cranking out the same report again and again. If you have a job like this you should worry and look to transition in other roles in the 3 areas I listed above.

One very important part of adapting is to realize that future careers will nearly all require continuous learning. So whether you are concerned with yourself or your children, a focus on learning—getting good at it and truly enjoying it—will be one of the most important components of success.

More here. We find it interesting that these three domains of work - creative work, human-centered work, and skilled trade work - are most relevant to the re-empowering of communities that we try to invoke in our collaboratories. Future-minded, relationship-oriented and ready to apply hands-on skills to building new capacity for your area.

[We also note this collection of essays from The RSA, “A Field Guide to the Future of Work”. ]