Outsmarting Brilliant Machines

Outsmarting Brilliant Machines

Erick Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, authors of the bestseller Race Against the Machine, have a new book out: The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.  It adds to their premise that machines will perform an ever widening range of human work.

If the First Machine Age was all about automating muscles, the authors opine that the second will automate the mind.  Computers can now do legal research, answer customer service inquiries, process theater tickets, and even drive cars, so it won’t be long before they take over many of the other cognitive tasks workers now perform.

So, what’s left for we humans to do?

Machines may be able to think faster and more accurately than people, but they cannot create, innovate or imagine.  They may be good at processing huge amounts of information rapidly and using rules to make decisions, but they cannot cope with unexpected situations, idiosyncratic challenges or new opportunities.  Only humans can do those things.  And, that’s the window of opportunity for Career Activists.

We live in a time of extraordinary change.  Thanks to the global marketplace, technological development and rising levels of education, what was the state-of-the-art yesterday will be obsolete tomorrow.  Ironically, this dynamism has not only created brilliant machines, it has also limited their ability to replace humans … if humans focus on what machines can’t do.

Cognition – the ability to use skills and experience – will continue to be important, but it will no longer be a sure defense against machines.  Only our ingenuity provides such protection.  And, that’s the definition of talent in the 21st Century.

Employers will increasingly turn to machines to do human thinking – they’re cheaper and don’t require health care – but they will compete ferociously for people who can create, innovate and imagine on-the-job.  The key to career security, therefore, is to find, nurture and work with our individual source of ingenuity.  That self-development and self-expression is the essence of Career Activism.

Thanks for Reading,
Peter