The Future of Work: Are You Above or Below the Algorithm?
There was this old joke in the 1980s about Factories of the future being made up of Computer, a Dog and A Human. The job of the human is to feed the dog, while the dog’s job is to keep the human away from the computer which is running the factor. Now as we enter the age of software as robotics and automation are starting to really accelerate, this joke is becoming less funny and more dark. There is this new term called a “Dark Factory” which is run without lights because there are no humans working there. Robots only.
This does not just threaten blue collar manufacturing jobs, this has come for white collar jobs as well. As Software-driven automation starts to penetrate corporations and firms, we will start seeing employees start taking direction from algorithms. If you take a look at a disruptive bottoms-up example, let’s look at Uber or Lyft.
The driver takes whatever jobs or riders that are assigned to them & where to go. The App or an alternative like Waze or Google Maps tells them how to get there. The Algorithm for all intents and purposes controls them. This is what I mean by being “Below the Algorithm”.
As Naval Ravikant says: “If they can train you to do it, then eventually they will train a computer to do it.” Sadly with Autonomous driving coming to fore in the next 5 to 10 years, even drivers won’t have work anymore.
Contrast this to the software engineer or Product manager at Uber/Lyft who is designing and programming the App with the rules and setting the criteria. This is “Above the Algorithm”.
The question for you as you are thinking about your career: where do you want to be career wise? Telling the computer what to do or having the computer tell you what to do. The answer is very clear to me.
But I would go even further, the ultimate job security in the future is not having a job. Be an entrepreneur and build a business. When I say business, it could mean a one-person consulting company, a small SaaS software co or agency, all the way to a Silicon Valley type venture funded high growth startup.
Yet many people would argue: a job is more safe and secure! But is it really? If you are running a business you probably have multiple customers and thus multiple income streams. If you have a job, you have literally one income stream. Also seems very clear to me.
So to close off again with Naval: “Creativity is the last frontier…automation over a long enough period of time will replace every non-creative job…that’s great news. That means that all of our basic needs are taken of, and what remains for us is to be creative, which is really what every human wants.”
Entrepreneurship, mark my words, is and will be the ultimate creative activity of the 21st century.
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