Shaping our Future, Responsibly
I read with interest an article in the New York Times titled The Hidden Automation Agenda of the Davos Elite. This topic is certainly getting a lot of media attention. For the past two years, Boxspring has been focusing on the future of work, specifically the real need to reskill a workforce in the wake of automation, AI and the changing work landscape.
Perhaps it is because we have been looking at this for a while that I find this article a little alarmist.
It is the case that, as we enter the fourth industrial revolution and automation and intelligent systems start to replace existing jobs and we find ourselves with a skills shortage for the new roles, we are going to have an uncomfortable time of both job losses and skills shortages. Businesses will struggle to adapt and there will be real hardships for people who find themselves without work or the means to adapt, reskill and refocus. To simply reduce this to an opinion that this is a hidden agenda, thought up by greedy elite capitalists is a little reductive and not entirely helpful. As this Forbes article points out ‘Over the past six decades, the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company has plunged from 58 years to 18 years.’ For businesses today, staying put and not adapting is simply not an option. Companies have to adapt, and they have to disrupt or newcomers will enter and do the adapting and disruption for them. The path towards automation and adaptive processes is set. Work, as we know it, will transform and be redefined. Businesses will seek out new ways of gaining efficiencies and advantages from technology.
So, the focus should not be spent on blaming business for the hardship, but rather, how do we minimise or mitigate the hardship? How do we make sure we are prepared for this transformation? What is the most effective way to ensure reskilling, refocus and an engaged, fit for purpose workforce? How do we create systems, processes and content that not only address these issues today, but continues to address them in 5, 10, 15 years time? These are big questions, ones we have been working on over the last few years. We don’t have all the answers but we do know that the actions we take today are the ones that are shaping our future. It is beholden to us all, collectively, to work towards a preferred future, one which is equitable, sustainable, fair and just. Now is the time for positive and meaningful action, not sensationalism and despair.