A Reflection about Our (Kids) Future

“Mom, what should I become in the future?”

A thrilling yet naïve question. The answer is easy if we are only required answering based on what we experience nowadays. However, do we believe what the future holds for our youngsters? Will the job they want still exist in the future?

As I admire Harari’s idea that artificial intelligence (AI) progression will take away most jobs from us (Harari, 2015), I beg to differ. AI may replace human in the aspect of job automation. However, we refuse the claim that AI could alter the ways of human emotion, talent, and potential are working to contribute to the society. As reported from a survey of 10,029 members of the general population based in China, Germany, India, the UK, and the US, 73% think technology can never replace the human mind (PwC, 2017).

Yesterday, we appreciated human thinking to get things done, called doing a job. Then we meet the advancement of AI to help human doing their jobs. A problem occurs within the idea that AI could beat human in efficiency and effectivity. How should we prepare an education system to build competitive human capacity against the unpredictable future? Or predictable of which human against the robot. Literally.

Humans have their unique talents. They become qualities to prevail in the future career. According to Tom Rath (2007), the key to human development is building on who you already are. There are many methods used to understand humans by dividing them into a particular characteristic, namely talent, genetic potential, personality, IQ rank, and many more. During the time, many researchers try to formulate those, so we know how to treat the human better.

Though, it is not necessarily enough. There’s the future when jobs disappear, and the new kinds emerge every once in a while (Mckinsey Global Institute, 2017). Now, it’s about what and how we educate humans to stay economically indispensable in the future.

It is not that there will be no job, only popular job shifting. According to United Nation SDG, there are 17 world problems to figure. There are always emerging jobs to do so. In the future, the employment that we have in the present may be gone, but there will be new ones covering whether that blue-collar or white-collar level of occupations. Take, for example, yesterday the courier business and the related jobs are limited. Today, in the e-commerce era, it becomes new employment opportunity which still has high demand, especially in developing country.

Secondly, for certain skill, there are many new jobs available such as data scientist, knowledge worker, social media copy-writer, also SEO consultant and trainer. This also happens in art, a domain which was underestimated due to a perception that its future job is unclear. In the content era nowadays, the people who become a trendsetter are those who have art talent, limitless creativity, and able to express it into multimedia requiring sense of design, web designer, and UI/UX capability. All of these are not present in the past, but along with technology advancement, it exists.

In the past, we have cash money only as the payment tools.  Then, we had cards. Today, we have fintech dan blockchain replacing those. We could not find prepaid credit for mobile phone easily on the roadside counter, or we so-called ‘warung‘ years ago. Now, it is effortless. So, it is not impossible if we find bitcoin counter in small counter in rural area years ahead.

Well, it is just an illustration for another emerging jobs opportunity. Fortunately, it’s not always related to IT developer skills.

Another argument seconds this mindset is stated by David Lee in TEDx talk. He said in the era of fewer jobs, we need to change our mindset to take employment which is more appropriate to replace the lost job due to the robot and AI automation. The mentality in doing business need to shift from “just doing what” into “what can you contribute” and “what can you create to finish your job.”

Rhenald Kasali seconds this idea in his speech, by emphasizing in contribute, not only for ourselves or family but also to the people. Industrial and economic drivers were based on capitalism. Today, it shifts towards sharing economy and social ventures, of which the result affected by solving people’s problems.

Besides affected by the economy, the employment availability shifting is reasonable following the change of way society do something.  For example, the previous baby-boomer generation is satisfied with entertainment on TV. Insurance for this generation is fulfilled by saving some money. Meanwhile, the millennial generations have shifted their priority to lifestyle and experience. Today, youngsters find the excitement through posting what and where they eat, a phenomenon with hashtag #foodporn. It is not an event in people’s mind years ago, a tertiary need. Eventually, it becomes secondary, and event primary needs nowadays.

Therefore, there is always a possibility that new business models are popping up, bringing the opportunity to hire many workers with different human capabilities compared to the previous era. Mckinsey in its report (2017) wrote that there is a shifting occupation trend. We can assume that this could also keep on going if technology continues to develop.

Well, after all, in the end, there’s a question left as the adult. How do we educate and nurture our youngsters to survive this future? I’ll continue in the next post.

Jakarta, 3 November 2018
~Ami
A Lecturer, a student, a lifelong learner & tech-savvy Mother

References:

  • Harari, Y. N. (2015). Homo deus : a brief history of tomorrow.
  • Mckinsey Global Institute. (2017). MGI-A-future-that-works_Full-report.pdf.
  • PwC. (2017). Workforce of the future – The competing forces shaping 2030. Human Capital, August, 14–18.
  • Rath, T. (2007). Strengths finder 2.0. Gallup Press.