Success in the Digital Age requires ‘outsmarting’ evolving technology and remaining relevant through continuous learning and reinvention, or ‘Hyper-Learning’, says UVA Darden School of Business Professor, Edward D Hess
The Digital Age will fundamentally change how we work and how we live. The continuing advance of AI, biotechnology, nanotechnology, virtual and augmented reality, quantum computing, and big data will lead to new knowledge creation at a much faster pace, and it will result in significantly more automation of jobs.
McKinsey has predicted that, by 2030, more than 25 million jobs in the US will be automated in its 2019 report, ‘The future of work in America: People and places, today and tomorrow’. Earlier research, from Oxford University in 2013 – entitled ‘The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?’ – predicted that there is a high probability that 47% of US jobs (80 million) will be automated in the next 10 years or so. Automation will occur in all types of jobs, including professional jobs — law, accounting, management, consulting, medical, and so on. Degrees will not necessarily protect you. Automation of this magnitude raises the obvious question of how do we human beings stay relevant in the workplace as technology becomes smarter and smarter? How do we ‘outsmart’ the technology?
We outsmart the technology by being smart in ways that differentiate us from the technology.
At least for the near future, those ways involve:
- Thinking differently: creative, imaginative, and innovative thinking; higher-order critical thinking including making decisions in environments with lots of uncertainty and little data; exploring the unknown by creating and doing experiments; and making moral judgments.
- Emotionally connecting and relating with other human beings in positive ways: ultimately, our key uniqueness as human beings will be our emotional abilities to connect and emotionally engage in positive ways with other human beings. That will require both high emotional intelligence and ‘Otherness’ – the ability to build caring, trusting, and compassionate relationships with others.
- The ability to perform trade services that require complex problem identification, iterative problem solving and lots of manual dexterity.
Notice – I did not say that knowing more content than the smart machines will be an advantage. No human being will know anywhere near as much knowledge as a smart machine will know in the Digital Age.
What will be key is our ‘how to’ skills: how to think in different ways; how to manage our emotions and create positive emotional connections with others; how to go into the unknown and figure out what is possible; and how to continuously learn, unlearn, and relearn.