The advent of the Internet along with the rather recent ascent of mobility devices and services have ushered in a new era in business and domestic life – one that will accelerate even faster over the coming years. Those companies that take the long term view, as in many tech start-ups with little chance of making a profit for years, have an advantage over legacy approaches to starting a business today – a fact a bit maddening to traditionalist financial experts.
Being the first in your market, or creating a new market provides obvious perils but distinct advantages over would-be competitors as any business school professor will tell you – first in line has advantages.
Yet businesses in nascent and mainstream business lines can only advance as quickly as its life-blood advances – its people. Much has been made of recent changes to the common core curriculum in our education system and the implementation of STEM classes – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This is the foundation for all future employees, but not at the demise of liberal arts. A well rounded and technologically sound workforce in America is needed, but future jobs may rely much more heavily on students that have historical perspectives derived from humanities. Many current day decisions taking place now with people will be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms. The old saying that technology doesn’t replace human jobs, it just raises the bar for that human job, is valid. More and more of routine and even higher education level decisions will be made by ‘systems’ and therefore reliance on STEM only educated people will be superfluous. A solid foundation in liberal arts may be the higher road to oversee our systems.
Doctors and lawyers each have lower functioning duties they perform that are being replaced now by systems, a good indication your job may be vulnerable at some point as well. But technology shouldn’t scare us; it should make the future look exciting for most of us. It will allow most of us to eliminate the dull and routine tasks that we all find part of our day now and move onto more important tasks that are not suited well for computers to do – such as make nuanced decisions that would just take too large of an algorithm to be developed for – if one can.
Is shop floor automation really better for the earth – is it really more sustainable than human labor? We may find that there needs to be a balance between automation and human labor – when both solutions exist. If one were to count the carbon footprint of automation in its totality against the carbon footprint of human labor in its totality…well, there could be some interesting findings here. There’s a thesis or dissertation in there somewhere, if it hasn’t been written already.