56 DC VELOCITY JANUARY 2019 www.dcvelocity.com
IN HIS SEMINAL 2016 WORK THE INEVITABLE, ACCLAIMED
technology writer Kevin Kelly offered 12 provocative predictions.
Among them was a rather striking pronouncement: 70 percent of
jobs that exist today will be gone in 50 years’ time.
Recognizing that folks would scoff at this outlandish idea, he
went on to explain that it’s happened before, and not really all
that long ago. In the last quarter of the 19th century, roughly 80
percent of America’s jobs were in agriculture. Fast forward to the
1970s, and that number had dropped to 3 percent. The other agriculture jobs had been replaced by machines.
It will be a repeat scenario in the decades
ahead—but with one important difference.
Given the accelerating rate of change, Kelly
believes (and we agree) that this time around,
the workforce shift will happen much faster.
That’s not as ominous as it might sound.
Folks still found work after the farm jobs went
away. And they often went on to better jobs
that required less backbreaking work. The sec-
ond wave of automation—which will be fueled
by advances in robotics and machine learn-
ing—promises to have much the same effect,
replacing many of the menial jobs that humans,
for the most part, don’t like anyway. As noted
author and business blogger Seth Godin often
notes: “If your job is easy, you have reason to be worried.”
As the robotics revolution continues to advance, though, it
won’t be just the “easy jobs” that go away. Many of the jobs slated
for extinction are neither menial nor mindless. In many cases, they
could be considered “knowledge work.” So it’s understandable
that people would feel threatened by the rise of sophisticated arti-
ficial intelligence (AI)-enabled machines.
What often gets overlooked in the discussion, however, is that
there will be jobs. They just won’t be the jobs we know today. The
jobs of the future will be ones we couldn’t have imagined when we
were growing up. It’s a pretty safe bet that no one reading this ever
dreamed of becoming an “augmented reality journey builder” or
“cyber calamity forecaster.” But soon, someone will.
And that’s just the half of it. Remember, many of the technol-
ogies that will shape your life and your workplace 20 to 30 years
from now haven’t even been invented yet. Things are moving
and advancing so quickly, big thinkers are already
talking about life after Google—which they don’t
see as that far off (although we’re not exactly sure
what that means!).
For a glimpse of how the digital revolution is
already reshaping the workplace, you need look no
farther than the “Jobs of the Future Index,” recently
launched by consulting firm Cognizant’s Center for
the Future of Work. The index tracks eight “
families” of jobs that are expected
to grow as a result of the rising digitization of work and the
workplace, as well as the jobs that
are seeing the greatest growth in
demand. The new report’s list of
the five fastest-growing jobs in
the past year includes one that
will be of particular interest to
anyone working in logistics. They
are personal care aide (+295 percent), genetics counselor (+222
percent), transportation supervisor (+204 percent), fashion
designer (+148 percent), and vid-eogame designer (+102 percent).
As you can see, not every job of the future will
require you to be a computer scientist. There will
be plenty of jobs in areas where humans still outperform machines as well as jobs (like transportation
supervisor) that still require a human touch even as
more and more digital components come into play.
Fret not, advances in robotics, automation, AI,
and other technologies are for the most part a good
thing. The future is something to look forward to,
not fear. You may have a different job, but we can
assure you, you’ll still have plenty to do.
Group Editorial Director
BY MITCH MAC DONALD, GROUP EDITORIAL DIRECTOR outbound
Robots won’t put you in the