Blog: Can We Future Proof Our Careers?
Tata Consultancy Services was invited to speak to students at the University of Bath on the topic ‘Future Proof Your Career: The Impact of Tech on the World of Work’
As I read through the email shared by my colleague Jenny who is a part of the HR team, my first thoughts were, can we really ‘future proof’ ourselves against technology?
When we are ‘proofing’ ourselves against something, we have the advantage of knowing the exact nature of that thing (you are proofing against), its properties, its behaviours, its impact, its empirical nature, its physiology, advantages, disadvantages, and we use this knowledge and awareness to come up with schemes and tactics to ‘proof’ ourselves up.
Given the flux that technology is witnessing and causing, can we dissect technology to define these parameters? Especially when we are creating technology which self learns and evolves on its own?
The 4th Industrial Revolution is not fueled by machines but by digital business models, and business 4.0 is about newer operating models which are underpinned by evolving technology which is agile, automated, cloud based and intelligent, and drives the levers of ecosystem enablement, mass customization, is risk embracing and delivers exponential value.
In the future we will be working with technology which is fluid, thrives on other technologies, invents and reinvents itself. In essence, we will be dealing with a new form of live, a living being which grows, develops and evolves every day and such a thing doesn’t lend itself well for proofing against!
The question that we should be asking is what can we do to prepare ourselves to navigate through a world of such unprecedented transformations and uncertainties which are hurtling towards us at a pace much faster than we imagine?
Learn to learn:
This will require starting from the start. Our current approach to life divides life into two complementary phases. The first phase involves acquiring information and skills to build an identity. The second phase involves using our identity — doctor, engineer, painter, pilot, chef etc — to earn a living. Accelerating change, longer lifespans will make this model obsolete.
The way we educate ourselves will change completely. Information acquisition has already changed drastically. We don’t rely only on books, classrooms and teachers for information. Information is available to everyone at the click of a button.
As we don’t have a clear picture of what the job market will look like in 2050, we cannot arm ourselves with skills. We may invest our time and money in learning a programming language which AI can code better than all humans at 1/10 the cost!
Therefore the traditional model of education which focuses on cramming information, on providing pre-determined skills is well on its way to redundancy. What we need to do instead is sharpen our ability to learn, to learn on our own, to figure out what to learn and when to learn.
Information will be delivered ‘just in time’, to those who need it, and when they need it, much like the way help is always offered to Harry at Hogwarts, when he needs it!
We are not too far from the future where we will be ingesting knowledge when it will be needed. Till that technology is created and made commercially viable, let us be ready to teach ourselves through online courses, real and virtual workshops to learn on the go!
As a teenager our bodies are undergoing a change, our relationships are changing, we ride the tide of change and self-discovery and almost enjoy it!
Ironically, this changes as we grow old! The cause is neurological; neural synapses don’t grow at the same rate in adults as they grow in teens and so the adult mind is less malleable. Adults revel in patterns and stability and have a certain amount of unwillingness to change.
In the new world where our identities may be challenged time and again we cannot afford stability. A lot of established human identities might be replaced by tech identities.
There could be an AI doctor who is accessible from the remotest corners of the planet through a hand held device, at your convenience, and is able to diagnose illness and recommend a course of treatment! All the AI doctors will be connected to a network and will be able to learn from each other faster. Being on a network will keep them updated on all new findings, drug discoveries and courses of treatment. With all necessary checks and balances in place (cyber security, privacy, anti — hacking environment) an AI doctor might replace a GP in the years to come!
Maintain a Balance: What’s your Resilience Quotient (RQ)?
Change is stressful, more for adults than for teens. Maintaining our composure and mental balance is crucial for survival. We have moved on from survival of the fittest to survival of the most resilient. Therefore, resilience is an important skill to have in the future. The world may fast move from measuring IQ to RQ!
Retrain, Reskill, Reinvent. Again. Again. Again
Tractors replaced ox and horses in the fields, however the plough was reinvented. Those who became jobless in the fields found employment in the factories.
Depending on how comfortable we are with change, with adapting and reskilling we will either be the horse or the plough.
For those who will reinvent, change and skill up, the years to come herald the beginning of an era of unprecedented human and tech cooperation and not competition.
The current GPs will not become redundant. The emergence of AI doctor will only mean that the current GPs will have to collaborate to train the technology to make it more empathetic. The GPs can use their time to do research which will help in increasing the reach, efficiency and accuracy not only of the AI doctor but the practice of medicine.
Human beings have never really been accurate in predicting the future, albeit, they have always been imaginative about it. And therein lies the key to our survival! Be imaginative, be creative, be compassionate, be curious, hold on to the traits that are distinct to human beings.
We need to be creative in the way we approach problems, be intrinsically motivated to stay focused, have the sincerity to carry on, and be committed to find new meanings. We have to see failure as a stop in the journey and not the end of our world. Learn to be comfortable with failure and have the willingness to start again.