ARE WE FUTURE READY?

Today, we live in exponential times, where products and services often become obsolete overnight and one is competing with innovations and startups by 15-year-olds and the likes of Tanmay Bakshis who are getting hired at the wise age of ’13’ by Google with 66 lakh pay package! Welcome to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Fourth Industrial Revolution is a digital revolution that brings together digital, physical and biological systems. The interplay between fields like nanotechnology, 3D Printing, coding, computing, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Augmented Reality will create realities that were previously unthinkable. Data and technology will overwhelm us. This will bring change at a speed, scale, and force, unlike anything we have experienced before. It will affect the very essence of our human existence. The predic-tion of five million jobs lost to technology by 2020 is serious.

The First Industrial Revolution brought mechanical innovations like the steam engine, cotton-spinning and railroads. With the Second Industrial Revolution came mass production through assembly lines and electrification. The third Industrial Revolution brought mainframe computers, personal computing and the internet to the fore. Now, at the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the questions we need to ask ourselves are ‘What do we need to know to prepare ourselves for jobs that don’t yet exist? How can college prepare you to thrive in an uncertain future? How are we going to deal with this disruption, joblessness, and uncer-tainty?’

Be that as it may, the fourth Industrial Revolution calls for a paradigm shift in the approach to career planning. Gone are the days when you ask a child what they will be when they grow up. It is time to ask them what they enjoy doing. World Economic Forum has compiled a list of ten ‘skills’ which will help in facing the challenges thrown by the new technology. As Artificial Intelligence begins to impact the workforce and automa-tion replaces some existing jobs, there is an increased need for skills like creativity, curiosity, adaptability, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and communicating ef-fectively for a smooth transition. The top ten in-demand jobs in 2010 did not even exist in 2004. One must strive for developing skills for the jobs that have not been created yet, for technologies that have not been invented, to solve problems that have not yet been anticipated. We have to create a space which enables people to think creatively, to come up with divergent ideas and be innovative. Ken Robinson, in his famous Ted Talk on education, has remarked that “creativity is as important as literacy”

As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. While new technology may cause the disruption of some jobs, it will also create many new jobs, some of which we can’t even imagine today. While technology may wipe out many jobs as predicted, it will end up opening new avenues too. If automation and computers have replaced humans, they have also increased the demand for computer-based work and created new jobs related to developing, coding, and programming computers. If we prepare ourselves well and embrace the changes, it will open up infinite opportunities for us. The extent of these opportunities could not have been fathomed two or three decades ago.

So to answer the question: what is coming around the bend?

You have W.B. Yeats, whispering to you
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand

Is It?

— Hina Sharif Khan

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