By Elizabeth Coston McCluskey
It has been a busy couple of months on conference circuit, in particular on the topics of edtech and workforce development. I recently attended the Lumina Foundation’s LIFTed Convening, ASU/GSV’s annual Summit, and Axios’“Future of Work” panel. The crowd at each event was slightly different, enabling me to get perspectives and have conversations with educators, investors, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and economists — not to mention John Legend and former president George W. Bush.
One of the prevailing themes was the rise of automation and AI, and whether it presents a threat or an opportunity. Numerous speakers and panelists cited a report from Oxford University that posited 47% of US employment is at risk due to “computerization.” While the report came out in 2013, it seems that conversation about the reality of this possibility is reaching a fever pitch in 2018. One of the report’s conclusions is that lower wage jobs that require less education will be the most susceptible to tech outsourcing.
However, the message of many was that all is not lost. Vanguard’s chief economist made an important distinction between tasks and jobs. He suggested that while up to half of a given person’s tasks may be automated, it will not eliminate their job but rather change the nature of it. Reducing mundane tasks should enable them shift to more “uniquely human” ones that involve skills like creativity and empathy. This thought was repeated by an ASU/GSV panelist who talked about the increasing importance of “human literacy”: being competent in communication, teamwork, empathy, and cultural agility. I also heard this message […]