With the world aggressively embracing newer forms of technology, many of the existing job profiles are at stake. People are a little unsettled over this fact and believe that, within the next decade, a lot of jobs will become obsolete. In reality, they’ll vanish to the tune of over 100 million by 2025, according to recent McKinsey reports. Isn’t that a very frightening figure? In light of information like that, I can’t help but wonder what will the jobs of the future be like? What will we be doing? What will our kids be doing? But then again, before we think forward, let’s go back in time.
The job market is a recycling machine—generating new jobs, occasionally stemming from the destruction of the old ones. For instance, typists, telephone operators and proofreaders are largely a thing of the past. Meanwhile, a number of high-paying jobs that are commonplace today—computer or systems managers, computer software engineers, and financial advisors and analysts—didn’t exist 30 years ago. This trend will continue as robotic technology advances, particularly when it comes to back-office jobs that require less of the “human touch.” I see future employment being based on three key human qualities: Our ability to use our intellect for complex problem solving, our need for more immersive experiences and entertainment, and our ability to empathise with others.
Rise of the predictive economy
Our current economy is a reactive economy. We have built fantastic institutions like insurance companies, urgent care centres, auto body shops, and more based on our reactions to accidents and medical crises, as well as our needs and wants. Tomorrow, we will live in a “predictive economy”—one that doesn’t wait for things to happen. We’ll look at home automation—already making its way into modern residences—and determine how our inanimate house can become increasingly animated, anticipating our comfort needs and patterns. Looking at a snapshot of the job forecast for the year 2022, it appears that many jobs could have elements of the predictive economy, and will fit into industries such as services (of all kinds), healthcare and retail. In each of these areas, as devices are re-imagined through the lens of the predictive economy, a new wave of engineering, design and services will emerge. Companies like Whirlpool could become the next Apple.
Increase in immersive experience
As time has shown, with increased productivity, and as mundane or repetitive tasks get reduced with inventions, we tend to have more time for richer experiences, like travel, and all types of entertainment. This is where the second-biggest technology transformation is coming from—something for which our society has an almost infinite appetite. Entertainment will be woven in everywhere, including in the machines and devices we use on a daily basis. You’ll be able to choose the colour and even pattern of your self-driving car for the day, and then spend your hourly commute sitting back and enjoying an interactive experience on the way home. In the malls, you’ll have virtual reality-based theme parks. Surfaces of all kinds will become screens. Your home theatres will let you experience movies, music and television in an increasingly kinaesthetic way. These new entertainment devices, new methods of delivering entertainment and increasingly interactive experiences will lead to a much bigger industry and higher paying new jobs. Since we’ll have newer opportunities for entertainment wherever we look, we’ll fittingly have new jobs to drive the authenticity of those experiences.
Not stock, but empathy exchange
We’ve considered analytical and recreational areas where job opportunities will arise, but what about something closer and deeper to our being? In considering the traits inherent to humankind—those that can’t be automated—empathy comes to my mind. It is in tomorrow’s pursuits to better the world we live in that I see the potential for another type of workforce, energised by empathy and fuelled by data. Until now, commercial analytical tools and methods were only available to a select few for select purposes. With the rise of predictive devices, there will be vast amounts of data available for every aspect of life, including charitable causes. Very soon, we will be able to measure the cost of saving lives, or the cost of educating a person, or the cost of saving carbon emissions.
An empathy exchange will enable billions of dollars of capital flow and a model for optimal talent allocation for the purpose of “making a difference,” which will energise a very different workforce that many will choose to engage with. It will drive social performance, with some of the same efficiencies of a capital system where some charitable work processes can be done offshore. Investments in an organisation that can, for instance, predict and quell the spread of a pandemic will lead to jobs to accomplish that mission. Such a job will be the product of empathy, and the desire to make a difference. History has proven it time and again that with the dawn of a new technology comes the dawn of an era of new employment possibilities. Rather than fearing the future, embrace what good will come. It will be tremendous to see the impact on the society and how the human race will evolve, yet again.
The author is co-founder & CEO, Automation Anywhere, a developer of robotic process automation software