Not as long as 20-30 years ago, if you were told you could make video calls with your mobile phone in a short period of time, you probably would have thought that that was closer to a dream than reality. Now, however, true to the significant and speedy pace of technological advancement that we are witnessing in today’s world, there seems to be a general understanding that our expectations and projections of the future will be continuously tested and shaped and reshaped. We see this effect in play today as companies are forecasting that a significant proportion of current jobs and occupations will no longer exist in the coming future, having been replaced by technology. As such, the job market it now is experiencing a gap in filling tomorrow’s occupations with people who received yesterday’s education.
For example, automation has already heavily exerted pressure on the automotive industry, resulting in massive layoffs and leaving a labor force with very little opportunity to reinsert themselves in the sector with the current skills they have. Robots, computers, and soon, AI will dominate many sectors of our economy apart from the automotive world. These technologies are being used in creative ways that streamline workflows, cut production costs, and may altogether replace human involvement, like we are beginning to see with self-driving cars for the commercial transportation sector. Given this reality, our current labor force and the incoming workforce will be tasked with learning new trades and skills that keep them a relevant and even vital part of the economy. It is time to start upskilling our current labor force and equipping the coming generations with capabilities that will help them navigate and direct their own futures.
Which professions will stand the test of time?
Maybe the main issue here is not which jobs will disappear, but jobs will change and be created not despite technology, but because of it. If we change the focus from trying not to lose jobs that can be done more efficiently with technology, we may gain perspective on what jobs can and will be created because of technology. Some professions that you might not necessarily think will be affected by technology, like the arts, will nevertheless experience its effects. For example, traditional painting: some may cling to the idea that painting requires a human creative quality to it, and though that may still ring true, however, it is foreseen that robots will acquire the capability to compose traditional paintings with the same talent as humans and produce them in a shorter amount of time. This is not to say that humans will lose their creative spaces to robots; however, it shows that technology will, as a whole, surprise us and become more deeply entrenched in our daily lives, as we have seen since the invention of the smart phone. The integration of technology in the arts, however, has opened up new realms for creative spaces and ways of expression, including digital arts spaces or incorporating the use of AI algorithms to render images or enhance art pieces. The introduction of Virtual Reality (VR), too, for example, is now revolutionizing how the art world can share and display pieces of artwork – where people from all over the world can access previously considered exclusive exhibits from the comfort of their own home thanks to technology. By repositioning ourselves at the forefront of technology rather than the victims of it we can inspire a new generation to generate new and fulfilling careers that fit the expectation and values of the 21st century. As such, we must take an active role in changing our perspective and our expectations so that it works for us – our daily lives and career pathways will change, whether we want them to or not, but being able to accept this and confidently take the reins through adaption and education will only serve to make us a happier and more resilient society.
The living conditions of plants and animals will also be affected…
Technology and medical advancements have allowed our societies grow to unprecedented levels. On the other end, the world’s ever-growing population has demanded that we find new ways of producing of food and medication to meet the level of demand. The effects of technological development will not be limited to humans, however. The vegetable and animal products we consume today and the means by which we produce them have been changed and will continually be influenced more so by automation and artificial products in the future. Of course, there are many parameters. Conditions such as human population and environmental factors are very important. World population is expected to continue growing. Climate change, too, is anticipated to create upheavals in our supply systems, as well as societies. As such, the limited resources we have now such as fuel for our energy needs, food and water will be further constrained.
Consequently, it will be up to us and the upcoming generation to firstly, equip ourselves with the right kind of skills, and then learn how to leverage them to address the issues of the 21st century. Much like how the industrial revolution redefined much of society of the 18th and 19th centuries, today’s technology will begin to redefine ours. For example, the burdens of population growth and climate change is increasingly pressuring our farmers. By leveraging technology in ways yet explored by society up until now, we are beginning to see how we can yet again redefine our understandings of what a farm is. Up until now, a farm has been a place on a large plot of land that produced vegetables and domesticated animals. However, science has allowed things such as vertical farms to become a reality. Vertical farming is the practice to growing agricultural products in vertically stacked layers so that more food can be produced in a smaller amount of space, and in a shorter amount of time. Perhaps the farmers of the future will be more like scientists in a laboratory. Who knows? Either way, it might be good idea to ready one’s self for it with the right kind of perspective and education.
In summary, considering the differences between our recent past and present technological conditions, we can expect to experience a vastly different future than today’s living conditions. The future brings problems, but with that comes new opportunities. It is no longer a question of whether society will feel the effects of technological advancement, climate change, population growth, etc., but a fact that we must face with a strong foundation of positive core values, knowledge and confidence, as well as inspiration and innovation as our driving forces to overcoming these issues.