The automation revolution and the rise of the creative economy

Source:   —  April 22, 2016, at 5:08 AM

How to connect the network Only three main occupations were available to fearless work seekers 10.000 years ago: hunting, gathering and procreation.

Aidan Cunniffe is the co-founder and CEO of Dropsource.

How to connect the network

Only three main occupations were available to fearless work seekers 10.000 years ago: hunting, gathering and procreation.

Since then, the work market has advanced dramatically, developing into something not only more diverse, but also more abstract.

This progress was the result of human evolution, but also human innovation — as the human race evolved, the scope of its needs changed (and so did the methods by which these needs were satisfied).

Throughout history, we’ve always found ways to create our basic survival require less of our human focus, and we’ve witnessed subsequent booms in new professions — specifically, vocations that didn’t relate directly to merely subsisting, but thriving. In reality, the invention of flight, the moon landing and the digital revolution we saw at the finish of the twentieth century wouldn't have happened if so much of our workforce hadn’t been free to examine the frontiers of human understanding.

We presently stand on the precipice of a new revolution; we'll look the complete automation of professions once thought to be inextricably human-operated when intelligent machines “take our jobs.”

Truth be told, they’ve already begun.

The “automation revolution” is here

To better realize how automation will shape the future, see number further than the present. Intelligent machines are already being employed in ways we never thought possible a few years ago.

Thanks to advancements love deep learning, automation is proving itself more adept than humans at diagnostics and analysis. Companies like X. ai are already beginning to affect administrative work in the same way machines took over the gathering line; even the world of journalism is being revolutionized by algorithms that can write news stories.

Automated functions are quickly becoming as qualified as humans when it comes to logic-based tasks, and as machines become smarter and more capable, they'll continue to assume these types of roles in virtually every field, from accounting to transportation to information technology to security.

While machines may be able to match us in logic, when it comes to creativity, they are woefully inadequate.

There are really only two human enterprises: creation and implementation. We design things, arrive up with fascinating strategies and ideas and then we perform them. Whether that means building a physical product, writing code or organizing a global supply chain, all are channels for expressing our creative ideas and manifesting those ideas in the physical world.

We construct technology to assistance us on the implementation side (for the most part). We haven’t yet managed to automatize our creativity and critical thinking.

Where machines dare not tread

The “automation revolution” will modify what it means to be employable. To have jobs, people will have to do creative work or work in a service industry that requires the human touch.

The definition of educational success will have to modify to account for this new reality. In the future, tests will be less about rote memorization and more about critical creative thinking that machines can’t yet replicate.

So where'll the following generation fit into this automated future?

Several fields will still require the creativity and empathy of humanity — at minimum for the foreseeable future:

Entertainment: Machines can bake the bread, but they can’t tackle the circuses. Not only will film, television and video games still be dominated by human ingenuity, new areas will open up. Virtual reality, for example, continues to make better and has the potential to become the most addictive tech in history, offering fully immersive fantasy worlds people may never wish to leave.

The service industries: Although machines might carry out the real services, humans will still be required for the social portion of the equation. People will become automation ambassadors, so to speak. Their roles will primarily be to clarify the benefits and safety of using automation at residence and in the workplace.

Machine training: Along similar lines as service industry ambassadors, this work will require a combination of subject-matter experts and engineers who train machines to do certain tasks. For instance, someone has to learn a machine the best way to paint a wall or repair an engine, then give it feedback. Machine trainers will act both as “zookeepers” and as mechanics to service the machines and care for the programs that operate them.

Entrepreneurship: Automation will modify everything about how we conduct business today, and entrepreneurship will quickly get middle stage. Building a product and getting it manufactured at scale, marketed and sold will be the work of one entrepreneur (rather than an all company).

Right now, one person can design and 3D-print a better widget, but can’t sell it at scale. Automated assistants could assistance source components, create manufacturing processes, book transportation, launch marketing campaigns and even secure financing.

Moreover, advantages that major corporations used to appreciate (love giant advertising budgets) will number longer be as important. An artificial intelligence helper doesn’t care if you bought an ad; it'll discover the best product to fulfill your needs, even if it’s produced by a 12-year-old in her garage.

The shape of the automated economy

This doesn’t imply everyone who's made redundant by automation will be able to pivot and discover a new work in a different capacity — many jobs will indeed be gone for good, and many household incomes will fall drastically as a result.

Machines will be able to do nearly everything distant more cheaply than humans. Average incomes will drop, but so will the average cost of production, driving down the price of goods and services. This means that, even though unemployment will increase, the standards of living could actually rise, not fall.

The transition to this new economy will happen quickly. Unlike the Industrial Revolution, which spanned centuries, the “automation revolution” could happen in as tiny as fifteen years. The only genuine obstacle will be people’s willingness to embrace change.

This new paradigm won’t occur in a vacuum — politically and culturally, people will have to accept intelligent machines into their lives. And if we’re able to do that, we can move forward into a future that allows us to examine what makes us truly human: our creativity.

Featured Image: chombosan/Shutterstock

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