Fortune has a great article "Humans are Underrated" and it has so much information in it. It is adapted from an upcoming book called Humans Are Underrated What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will by Geoff Colvin. This is the kind of article I would spend at least two classes going over as a Prof but it is summer and I am off, so I get to ramble about it here (lucky you).
The article talks about technology and the analogy is that jet planes sped up travel by a factor of 100 (compared to walking) while now, every two years, computer processing power doubles which is an "increase in computer power of a million every 40 years". I am (almost) 40 years old and I have seen how technology has absolutely changed by what feels like about a million in the years since I was a kid and all we had was DOS programming and a modem that squeaked to show it was online - not to mention landline phones and cell phones that looked (and felt) like bricks. Now we have the equivalent of the computer processing that sent rockets to the moon in our pockets (or pocketbooks) and can stream any show we want at any time and so much more...
Ok, so the article talks in detail about technology and the impact on employment. There is a potential for trucks to be driven by computers, which would impact about 2million jobs held by, you know, actual truck drivers. (I digress, but would the show Ice Road Truckers be as popular with computers driving the rigs instead of people?) When I teach, I often discuss "The World is Flat" the article by Thomas Friedman and how the outsourcing and offshoring of jobs (caused by technology leveling the playing field) has impacted the economy and jobs available to recent college grads. We usually talk about how blue-collar jobs are least likely to be decimated because, like, who would pick up the garbage - a worker in India or China cannot do that -- but by reading this article, there is a very real fallacy to my logic because things that were considered "un-programmable" are more and more becoming programmable - such as truck driving. In 2004, there was belief that driving was intrinsically human and could never be done by computer and then several years later, Google had a self driving car. So what we think cannot be done by computer and technology is actually consistently proved wrong because of the absolute staggering increase in computer processing and abilities.
So the crux of the article (and subsequent book, which is about to be pre-ordered by me) is to highlight how "humans add value"? Empathy is highlighted as being something that is very necessary to hiring managers - but, ironically, empathy is on the decline in most people (maybe because we are always looking at our smartphones or something). Also needed for employees is "relationship building, teaming, co-creativity, brainstorming, cultural sensitivity, and ability to manage diverse employees". There is even a vignette about a new Technology Director who was hired and then quickly fired by Southwest because he just could not handle the culture of friendliness and openness - it was not based on his ability to do the job but because he did not have the people friendly skills necessary for the culture he was in. The article discusses this as being the focus of the future and that even one employee who is disengaged and not meeting the people skills necessary for this new world is one too many.
This article is so intense and has so much interesting information in it, you really have to read the whole thing. It makes for good interview small chat - adding in how your people skills are so important to the future of the company you want to work for and why - it is the wave of the future.
Check out the book below; also the link to the Fortune article is below, too.
Lisa Vento Nielsen