Despite all the warnings that coming technologies may render many of today’s jobs useless, the chances are good that workers, overall, will come out ahead. In fact, not only are you likely to remain employed, but your work experience could become much better. The tasks you take part in every day will, most likely, be more rewarding and enjoyable.
But how can that be?
Once upon a time, in order to find a business, people opened the Yellow Pages, or they picked up a telephone and called directory assistance. Then along came Google, which replaced all that.
Did this mean people had no jobs? No. It meant that, steadily, people began to work for technology companies instead. Google – technically its parent company, Alphabet – now has more than 100,000 employees. And although it’s always looking for new ways to put technologies to use, Google has expanded its human workforce each year.
In a recent report, MIT’s Task Force on the Work of the Future noted that automation “operates through three distinct but related channels: substitution, complementarity, and new task creation. Of these three, only the first (substitution) is generally recognized in popular discussions—which we believe leads to undue pessimism.”
And even “substitution” doesn’t always mean machines taking over entire jobs. It generally refers to technologies taking over some of a worker’s tasks, “often those that involve physically demanding, repetitive, and rote activities… This process raises productivity and generally leaves workers with safer and more interesting jobs.”
Of course, this does not mean that everyone is left better off, especially in the short term. People at directory assistance did lose their jobs and many needed to pick up new skills in order to work elsewhere.
Ultimately new and unforeseen occupations, industries, and amenities took their place. But the benefits of these upheavals often took decades to arrive. And the eventual beneficiaries were not necessarily those who bore the initial costs.
The MIT Task Force report looks back on the Industrial Revolution, noting that while it “enabled dramatic improvements,” it also brought “painful and lasting results for workers, their families, and communities… Ultimately new and unforeseen occupations, industries, and amenities took their place. But the benefits of these upheavals often took decades to arrive. And the eventual beneficiaries were not necessarily those who bore the initial costs.”
But things are largely different today. Most people no longer enter the workforce expecting that a trade they’ve learned will be enough to carry them through their entire career. Workers are living in an era in which technological advancements – commercial and consumer – come along at an unprecedented pace.
Today’s workers generally know they have to constantly be learning in order to keep up. In fact, nearly 60 percent of millennial workers say they want their jobs to serve as development opportunities, and more than 40 percent of Gen Xers and baby boomers feel the same. So the idea that they need to keep adapting shouldn’t be as much of a shock.
The future landscape can bring all kinds of rewards, especially for those who are ready to keep evolving along with their businesses.
Nowhere is this clearer than at States Title as we disrupt a title and escrow process that remained largely the same for decades in the U.S.
As our CEO, Max Simkoff, explained in a piece for MIT Sloan Management Review:
“The process seemed strangely antiquated, based on an outdated model that required numerous, unnecessary steps. I looked into it and discovered that the handful of companies controlling the title insurance industry were still operating much like they did in the 1950s. They had managers overseeing teams of people who manually entered the same information into multiple computer programs in order to double-check data that had already been processed multiple times.”
Then we came in with a range of new technologies, including data science, predictive analytics, machine learning and machine intelligence. Our solutions offer lenders the potential to increase profit margins on loan refinancing originations by up to 35 percent.
Since Max founded States Title in September 2016, he has scaled our business far faster than other companies in their first three years of operation, while ensuring the stability and integrity of our mission.
Our employees get to do work that’s far more rewarding than copying numbers into different files.
We actively encourage our workers to learn about new technologies and experiment with new ideas. Leading by example, our Chief Data Science Officer Andy Mahdavi took his background in astrophysics and delivered us a new solution. Our teams are constantly creating new, original ways to make home buying easier for people, without the hassle most buyers, realtors and lenders experience today.
Leading by example, our Chief Data Science Officer Andy Mahdavi took his background in astrophysics and delivered us a new solution. A technique that he previously used to study dark matter using galaxy cluster data from NASA satellites is now optimizing our machine learning algorithm to produce maximal profit, ultimately benefiting our customers and the end consumer.
As Andy said: “It turns out that if you’re just optimizing a number, it doesn’t matter if it’s galactic dark matter or dollars of revenue and loss.”
Similar opportunities are there for you, too. You can use your knowledge and experience to come up with new ideas to improve your industry. Combine your best ideas with emerging technologies, experiment to see what works, and you could find your daily work life more creative and innovative.
Just how many of your current tasks will be replaced is difficult, if not impossible, to predict. One analysis from McKinsey estimated that “about 60 percent of occupations could have 30 percent or more of their constituent activities automated. In other words, automation is likely to change the vast majority of occupations – at least to some degree – which will necessitate significant job redefinition and a transformation of business processes.”
But when true artificial intelligence comes about – Andy and Max believe true artificial intelligence doesn’t exist yet – will surely go up. When technologies exhibit intelligence similar to that of a human, and are able to use that intelligence to develop ideas and solutions without human assistance, we’ll be in for a radical new era of transformation.
Even still, we don’t see human jobs disappearing. Agile entrepreneurs and business leaders will create new ways of operating, putting AI at the center of their operations. But there will continue to be crucial roles for people to carry out. All the technological revolutions humanity has been through show that’s the case.
For those willing to adapt and evolve, the future is still full of possibilities. And if you’re interested in learning how to spot and capture those opportunities, you won’t want to miss our Ask the Expert (in a crisis) webinar with Silicon Valley tech pioneer Karen Richardson – watch now!