The next big tech trend is humanity, was a big theme coming out of the World Government Summit in Dubai in February 2018, delivered by an all-star cast including Narendra Modi, Christine Lagarde, Malcolm Gladwell and will.i.am.
I found it very refreshing despite being the only “adult supervision” on a cryptocurrency panel talking about professional standards and conduct in an impending ICO market crash – I wasn’t very popular, but my colleagues will tell you there is no new news in that.
Most of the conferences I attend focus on “the next big tech thing” and what it can do, often to the exclusion of the utility and impact the technology will have on society. I am most often asked what the next “smart money” tech trend is in fintech. I am now happy to report it is not blockchain, bitcoin, or AI, it is humanity, so open your wallet, it’s time to invest in people.
To improve the human ingredients for cooking up better technology recipes there has been an increasing investment in talent, diversity and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) in education in recent years, however, the impact new technologies have on humans in work, our communities, and the environment is surprisingly often overlooked.
The World Economic Forum estimates that 65 percent of children entering the school system today will end up in careers that don’t exist yet, and much of this is down to the rapid pace of new technology development.
We have seen the pace and nature of technological developments wipe out many jobs in traditional manufacturing and industrial sectors. This, along-side no real wage growth for workers for many years, appears to have conflated to rear its head as populism in many Western countries.
In the West, it is not just that your children aren’t going to have better economic prospects than you and your generation did, but your own future economic prospects are increasingly challenged.
This narrative is alarming – With robots and artificial intelligence replacing human jobs at the same time life expectancy is increasing, what are you going to do at the age of fifty when there is no longer work for you and your going to live to 80? As importantly, where is the money going to come from to support you and your family? It is likely your pension scheme, if you even have one, is not going to get you over the line.
What kind of a world are we creating for our children and future generations when we reduce gainful employment to a near slave wage culture of jobs for humans that robots don’t (or won’t) do, destroy the fabric of communities, and contaminate the environment, all for a good shareholder return. Don’t think this is limited to manufacturing jobs. Financial analysts, fund managers, insurance underwriters and doctors are at the top of the list of jobs for robots.