We live in an age of automation. Jobs are being taken over by machines. I have discussed this before in my blogs, The American Dream is Quickly Dying, and The Problem with Automation, but it bears addressing again. It is shocking to me to see how drastically certain industries have changed. When I was growing up, reporters controlled the flow of news. Today, the only space left for them seems to be in deep investigative journalism, since anyone and everyone with a twitter account now covers breaking news. I used to have to book family vacations through travel agents. Now, sophisticated searching databases like Kayak and Google Flights have all but eliminated the need for one. I am sure that reporters in the 80s and travel agents in the 90s thought that they had job security, and yet where are they today?
The trick is to not become a commodity. The question is what can we start doing today that a robot won’t be able to do tomorrow?
When I look to the future, I see a future in which traditional career paths that people have always aspired to, like law and medicine, are going to fundamentally change. It does not seem far-fetched to me to expect a future in which court happens online and patient intake is done through a computer. When you look to the future, you need to start asking yourself: Can technology assist, and therefore devalue what I am trying to do? If the answer is yes, then it is time to start making changes.
It is difficult if not impossible to predict which industry upheaval is coming next, so I urge everyone to think critically about the path they are on, and make incremental changes that will ultimately lead to irreplaceability.
For example, I doubt that machines will be able to handle creative or critical thinking before the time the current working population retires, so put yourself on a path that includes creativity. Instead of going into general surgery, maybe explore emergency medicine. I suspect that machines will be able to perform appendectomies long before they are able to think on their feet quick enough to treat someone walking into the ER with a life-threatening injury.
The point is to start doing something that will not easily be replaced by automation.
And to all of the inspiring artists out there trying to convince their loved ones that a creative career is indeed sustainable, you’re welcome. I am here to say that it may be one of the only sustainable career options left!