Posts tagged: jobs
At the rate things are going, tens of millions of us could end up as temps, contract employees, call-center operators, and the like.
The signs are all there. Your future ‘job’ might be nothing more than a task list, paid at the lowest bid price, coordinated by a computer.
Update: And just in case you needed some insight into what this future might look like, have a read of the way your next Amazon package gets packed and shipped:
“Yep, if you do something particularly great, you might just be allowed to rear back and let out a scream as loud as you want,” says Spivey. “Let’s all try it together, huh?”
Fiction, or reality?
That title above is a mind-blowing quote from this article:
Whilst I think the quote is somewhat hyperbolic, it certainly serves to make the basic point: Western liberal democracies are exporting their middle classes to developing nations. And no job is safe.
I have no axe to grind with anyone over that, it’s simply the nature of things. And to be fair, we’ve exported most of our pollution generating enterprises to developing nations over the last 50 years, so it only seems fair that those nations can start to reap some return on their “investment”.
The more interesting question for me is: What can I do, and what can my kids do, with the insight that the traditional idea of a “job” is simply not going to exist in the future? The very near future.
I really think it’s that simple. If you are a small part of a machine that is making someone else’s stuff, then you are in line to be out of work when that role is arbitraged into a low wage jurisdiction, or perhaps more likely as the article suggests, automated out of existence.
But if you can make something - atoms or bits - and make it great, and then sell it to an audience or market or fan base or whatever, then you’ll have an advantage over someone who is simply selling their time to the lowest bidder.
Update 20130903: And of course, here’s a counterpoint:
Make up your own mind.
Here’s an article that provides further data points on the theme that jobs, as we currently understand them, are on the way out:
"… we are on a "robot curve," in which creative work at first is skilled, then becomes merely rote, and finally, with the help of algorithms, turns robotic."
More and more, this quote by Mark Andreeson starts to ring true:
The spread of computers and the Internet will put jobs in two categories. People who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do.
I keep telling my young kids that “jobs” won’t exist when it comes time for them to leave school, so they had better work out a way to make something - atoms or bits - before they end up as small cogs in an organic machine being told what to do by clever computers.
This is some of the best advice I’ve read in ages:
"Get something going for you that works while you’re asleep." - Michael Caine’s Dad (apparently)
It comes from this post, which is well worth the read:
Another data point in the narrative that suggests that the Industrial Revolution concept of “employment” (at least as it is practiced in the Developed World) will cease to exist. And most likely in our lifetime.
As technology systematises more and more processes, the need for middle-level white collar jobs will decline.
The only way to stay in front of this transition is to make stuff.
A while back I wrote a short piece titled “I’m almost certain that I’ll never be “employed” again”. Today I found this article by Douglas Rushkoff writing for CNN in September 2011 “Are jobs obsolete?" in which he says:
Jobs, as such, are a relatively new concept. People may have always worked, but until the advent of the corporation in the early Renaissance, most people just worked for themselves. They made shoes, plucked chickens, or created value in some way for other people, who then traded or paid for those goods and services. By the late Middle Ages, most of Europe was thriving under this arrangement.
If you think you’ve got a job today, it’s highly likely that you will not have one tomorrow, at least in the way that we have come to understand employment since the industrial revolution.
The only way out is to create and build something. Prior to the industrial revolution, that something was made from atoms. From now on, it’s very likely that something will be made from bits.
The following pair of links came through my Twitter timeline today almost simultaneously, and they make me believe that I will never be “employed” again:
They also reinforce ideas that I first heard during my MBA eight or so years ago that employment of the future will be all about the “portfolio career”.
I’m pretty sure the future is now.