The future of work is the subject of much discussion – but does work even have a future!? A much mediatized  Oxford University study in 2013 suggested 47% of jobs in the US will disappear due to technological innovations.  Last May the OECD produced a less dramatic report that suggests only 9% of jobs globally will be lost due to automation. And, a few weeks back a joint study by the Universities of Oxford and Yale surveyed +320 AI experts across the world:

 

“Researchers predict AI will outperform humans in many activities in the next ten years, such as translating languages (by 2024), writing high-school essays (by 2026), driving a truck (by 2027), working in retail (by 2031), writing a bestselling book (by 2049), and working as a surgeon (by 2053). Researchers believe there is a 50% chance of AI outperforming humans in all tasks in 45 years and of automating all human jobs in 120 years, with Asian respondents expecting these dates much sooner than North Americans.”

 

But, what’s the truth? As ever the answer lies somewhere in between. The Oxford report sounds dramatic, and experts, even the AI variety, don’t always get it right, but one thing is sure reading the OECD document, automation will radically alter the nature of work; jobs will never ever be the same again.

 

Graphic taken from http://www.oecd.org/employment/future-of-work.htm

In the much longer term, it could well be that the UK’s Royal Astronomer Lord Martin Rees has it about right – in a recent conversation at Edge he observes that:

 

“Even though the rate of progress is uncertain, the direction of travel is pretty well agreed. It’s almost certainly going to be towards a posthuman world, where our intelligences would be surpassed by something genetically engineered from us or, more likely, it will be some sort of artificial electronic device that has robotic abilities and intelligence.”

 

Turning our attention back to the reality of work today and it’s future, technology has moved at an awesome pace the past several years and it often seems that tomorrow is here today. For organizations, preparing their workforces for the future is much more about being ready for the day after tomorrow than it is about what happens today or the next day!   As the visionary Peter Hinssen says of the tech revolution:

 

“Companies feel like inhabitants of coastal towns preparing for an oncoming hurricane, nailing wooden planks to their windows, but knowing that the tornado could just knock their entire house down if it happens to stand in the path of the oncoming storm. The Day After Tomorrow comes faster than ever before in history. Scary. But it seems like we’re still doing our Today and Tomorrow business like it was the 20th century.”

 

Peter Hinssen is the opening Keynote at this year’s HR Tech World in San Francisco on June 14 & 15 and he’ll be explaining how companies need to organize themselves so they survive as well as giving pointers on the mindset and the talent required.

 

Mindset is something that another Keynote at HR Tech Wold Gary Vaynerchuk will be discussing – Gary has surfed the big waves and made it through and he’ll be bringing his passion and experience to bear as he gets down to the hardcore issues of how individuals and organizations should be adjusting to the market, pushing for consumer attention, and creating the right company culture for this ever-changing digital age.

 

If you’re interested in the Future of Work and where it’s all going then HR Tech World is the happening place to be, it’s where people in HR and talent can expect to be challenged, properly challenged in terms of their assumptions about what works and what doesn’t. There are 100+ speakers in SanFrancisco next week many of them CHROs and SVPs at companies like Cisco, Pinterest, Netflix, L’Oreal, Ebay, LinkedIn, Walmart, Chevron- even the FBI’s Chief of Staff! – they’ll all be there sharing their experiences.

 

This kind of quality line-up doesn’t happen that often and we’d hate you to miss out. We’ve got a handful or so of special tickets for those working in senior HR roles so just apply for tickets now and we’ll see you in San Francisco next week.  Be There or Be Square!