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Outrunning Automation

Outrunning Automation

Assistant Editor

16 Mar, 2020

It has become impossible to live without technology. Since primitive humans first discovered they could use sharp stones to cut and split things, technology has come a long way and changed considerably. The technological changes and advancements that we are witnessing today seemed farfetched just a few decades ago.

Algorithms and AI systems are now responding to our inquiries on websites and social media. Things are being delivered to us by drones. AI systems are giving us free legal advice, and automated cars are coming up. These are some of the outstanding high-tech examples of the high level of technological advancement that we, human beings have achieved.

However, technology comes up with its own challenges. Technological onset has led to automation in different fields. 

Academics from MIT foresee dismal prospects for many such types of jobs due to automation. Routine tasks that don’t draw on human creativity or interpersonal skills will be led by robots, automation, and software. 

What is the Future of Work?

According to the academicians, the more technical the work, the more technology can accomplish it. In other words, machines are skewed towards tactical applications. Machines will take up routine, mindless, and repetitive tasks. This will help in allowing people to thrive in their creativity and imagination. People will experiment, explore, and engage in other interesting activities that require creativity and inventiveness, thereby ushering in the imagination age and the imagination economy.

On the other hand, it is difficult to automate for any work that requires a high degree of creative analysis, imagination, and strategic thinking. Any work that involves managing and developing people or that apply expertise to decision making, planning, or creative work are harder to automate by computers. Computers are good at optimizing technical work but they are not good at exercising common sense or at goal-setting. 

Skills Requirement to thrive in the Imagination Economy

Soft skills will rule in the world of the imagination economy will be soft skills, which are a lot more difficult for machines to master.

Creativity: Creativity is the ability to come up with ingenious and new ideas. It allows us to find solutions by finding connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena. Extremely creative people will be less likely to lose their jobs to automation because they are better at analyzing information and making calculations. While machines are not able to come up with new and abstract ideas.

Critical Thinking: People with high critical reasoning skills can analyze situations, consider multiple solutions and makeup decisions while taking into account the various implications and alternatives. Machines have yet to catch up with these. They still can’t be trusted to do the critical thinking for us.

People Skills: In this complex world, there are many global challenges such as climate change, poverty, inequality, pollution, and overpopulation. For working together and the effectiveness of this collaboration, there is a need for strong people skills, manage others, the ability to work with others, and build an emotional connection. A machine can’t express their sentiments and emotions. Hence, we need highly empathetic people who have a high emotional quotient that excels at interpersonal interaction. These people have empathy, great listening skills, responsiveness, and self-awareness.

Ability to Solve Complex Problem: The world is continually changing rapidly. We are facing complex problems that we have not experienced before. We don’t need the usual solutions to work for us. This complex problem requires unconventional solutions. People who can display this adaption to new problems, mental flexibility, and complex problem-solving abilities will be in high demand in the imagination economy.

How Education can prepare us

To prepare students for the future workplace, there will be a need for educational reforms. Currently, the education system is designed for routine and fixed procedures. The School system goes by the books. We are instructed how to do something once, and students apply that same procedure for the rest of their lives doing it. This kind of model might have worked in the past but in the current scenario will not work.

Most people believe that creativity and imagination are innate skills and thus cannot be inculcated in the School. Other people think that creativity jobs are only required for designers and artists. Both these lines of thought are wrong. These skills are the requirement of many professionals across varied sectors. Scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, doctors, lawyers, writers, corporate leaders, and all other professions have a lot to gain by being creative, imaginative and inquisitive. To enhance creativity, resourcefulness and imagination skills, schools should place more emphasis on multi-disciplinary thinking. Multidisciplinary is significant for a student because it helps you make a connection between seemingly unrelated ideas and fields. 

By conducting experiments, students can gain knowledge on how to actively solve the problem by themselves. They can learn to become on how to actively solve the problems rather than just become passive consumers.

- By Noopur Joshi