Working in the coalmine. About to slip down

CSIRO report: Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce

This 112 page (plus research appendices) report examines plausible futures for jobs and employment markets in Australia over the coming twenty years.

Whilst Australia’s workforce is continually changing the current period in history is characterised by a combination of forces likely to be associated with greater, faster and different transitions than previously experienced.

The report merits a full read and commentary but for now, the accompanying video is helpful in assimilating some the high level perspectives of the report:

‘… We’re entering into a period of rapid technology fuelled disruption of labour markets. A lot of jobs are going to be extinguished by technology but a lot of new jobs are going to get created. There is opportunity and risk here. And all of the jobs we do are going to be reshaped by technology as well.‘ Dr. Stefan Hajkowicz, Research Scientist Data61

… People worry that our jobs are all going to be replaced by machines. But I see the future as one where people get to do exciting fulfilling creative work, while machines do the jobs they they’re best able to do. I think the main thing is to make sure that people aren’t left behind, so we need to make sure that we are equipping people with the skills that they need for new jobs…‘ Renee Leon, Secretary of the Department of Employment

Ensuring we have enough digitally literate workers in the future is a key challenge. It’s not just technical skills however we also need to focus on professional skills, in entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation. How to bring technology products to market. And we need to focus on developing our local IT ecosystem…‘ Andrew Johnson, CEO, Australian Computer Society

Over the next twenty years, the job market in Australia is going to become much more dynamic, with a much higher rate of job destruction and job creation required. In fact, our view is that the rate of job destruction is going to be as high as it was during the GFC, but for a much longer and sustained period within Australia.’ Brad Noakes, Partner, Boston Consulting Group

If you look at the challenges and opportunities of the digitally enable world, it certainly needs collaboration. And really collaborate in solving these fundamental challenges we have identified in the study. I think it’s a foundational piece, it doesn’t give answers to all the challenges. It’s a framework to take this subject further, and really start thinking about what are the implications from a policy making perspective.

Not only policy making on government, but also policy making in terms of what has to be done at university level but also industry level and how can we really take this forward and help Australia evolve into a knowledge based economy.‘ Patrick Maes, CTO, ANZ Bank

Working man blues. Jobs and automation

Workers always lose. Economics always wins.’

University of Technology Sydney Vice Chancellor Attila Brungs referenced a video at a conference I attended last year. Humans need not apply doesn’t need much of an introduction but it does flesh out more of the ideas, opportunities and threats inherent in automation, especially robotics, driver-less cars and the broader themes of autos, and the use of self-teaching bots.

Technology-based automation, in this case AI, is a threat to pretty much any job:

Data Scientist? Try Quill…

A ‘natural language generation platform for the enterprise that goes beyond reporting the numbers—it creates perfectly written narratives to convey meaning for any intended audience (that) adds value to data by identifying the most relevant information and relaying it through professional, conversational language. The result? Intelligent narratives that efficiently communicate the insights buried in Big Data that people can comprehend, act on and trust.’ Quill

Doctor, teacher, lawyer or other professional? Watson

According to IBM, ‘We produce over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data everyday and 80% of it is unstructured. Therefore, it’s invisible to current technology. IBM Watson is a cognitive system that can understand that data, learn from it and reason through it. That’s how industries as diverse as healthcare, retail, banking and travel are using Watson to reshape their industries.‘…

‘The world witnessed an early preview of cognitive computing in 2011, when Watson won the famous TV show using just one API (application programming interface). Today, Watson has 28, powered by 50 different technologies.’

According to Humans need not apply, 25% of the workforce could be made unemployable by technologies available and working today, 45% by the technologies outlined in the 15 minute film.

Automation, the driver of abundance, is going to deliver an abundance of people without jobs, so what to do with those people, that human capacity?And how does all that fit with capitalism?

Let’s leave that for another day…


This is the 21st century. Jobs and automation

Two recent videos compel me to comment on emerging angst (not just mine) over the future of work. The first is a short film, The last job on Earth, and the second, a call to action by Annalie Killian, founder of the Amplify Festival, on the need to rediscover the magic of ‘people’ in work, Are Employees part of the Human-Centred Design focus of corporations? #Humanatwork

Having worked under the tagline, ‘Better, Faster, Cheaper, More Sustainable’ for almost a quarter of a century, I’ve been part of many teams developing collaboration and automated solutions for business problems. My aim has always been to keep my employers nimble, and ‘smarter’, by reducing waste, time and costs of operation, and create environments that permit people a higher order ‘human’ contribution, rather than having to serf an ever growing tide of administration (sorry, ‘dad joke’).

Matthew Moore (@Innotecture) wrote recently (in Yammered) that the vision for Enterprise Social practices has changed since we started down the collaboration track (for me the mid 90s, for him, mid noughties) and under the heading, ‘The Death of the Utopian Vision of Enterprise Social’, Matt makes the following observation (my emphasis),

‘…the world has changed. The utopian vision of business in 2007 was all of us on social software talking like equals and forging a new egalitarian world together. The current vision of business in 2016 is somewhat different. Lets go back to Tom Davenport and Andrew McAfee. Both are now writing about automation (and also analytics for Davenport). The business vision of the organisation is one where we’ve removed everyone. We don’t need to give employees enterprise social platforms because there will be no one to talk to on them. Whether this is a utopian or dystopian future depends on whether you own the machines or are replaced by them.’ 

Can Matt’s point about Enterprise Social (collaboration) be extrapolated to motives driving business strategy and outcomes? To what extent? And what’s our role in this process?

Can we (re)find the magic Annalie is looking for? Or are we heading for ‘the last job on Earth’? And if we are, as Marillion might have asked, ‘Where’s the wisdom in that?

Always on my mind. Multi tasking

I think when you multi task so much, you don’t have time to think about anything deeply. You’re giving the world an advantage you shouldn’t do. Practically everybody is drifting into that mistake. Charlie Munger

One of the things my Gallup Strengths Themes assessment tells me is that I’m big on connectedness, and ideas (as well as about the whole ‘Strengths‘ thing).

The idea that forms the theme of this post is multi tasking – and its effect on attention and results. I wanted to consider multi tasking in the context of one day, Saturday 12 March, to see if I could learn anything (as well as bookmark cool things for another day).

Eve and I didn’t have any plans before 7pm, so I decided to go into work to tackle several items that I just haven’t been able to spend enough time on. After breakfast (at Brewristas in Glebe) and, inevitably, checking my emails, including the weekly digest from Farnham Street, and specifically Multi tasking: Giving the World an Advantage it Shouldn’t Have.

I’ve seen several items on the perils of multi tasking lately, including These Are The Long-Term Effects Of Multi tasking from Georgetown Professor Cal Newport (via Michael Sutton‘s LinkedIn micro-blog), it’s a timely topic, hence the energy expended in the set up to this post. In essence, the articles suggest our brains are not really wired for multi tasking, and it’s essentially self-defeating, keeping us at a surface-level of thinking and muting our ability to consider important, thinky things (if you really wanted a long bow, big thinky things like, ‘Do we have the brains and the tools to understand and account for the future?‘)

I decided to get on with some of that work and record some observations on the way. Originally, a secondary post, I’ve moved them to this PDF file Multi tasking notes 20160312, as they are not wildly coherent.

Conclusions and Follow Up

Working on a Saturday is obviously not representative of a normal working day, so I had the chance to focus on key tasks, knock them over, and dabble a bit with email, notes, texts and what-not in between.

One good thing is that my brain doesn’t seem to have totally atrophied and I know I could maintain my attention span for a lot longer. The only reason for pulling the pin was a dinner commitment.

The jury remains out on my propensity for multi tasking at inherently busier times.

One thing I read at breakfast, down-stream from the original Farnham Street post referenced at the top of the day resonates with perhaps more significance than the multi tasking thing alone:

The best way to identify how the world really works is to find the general principles that line up with historically significant sample sizes — those that apply, in the words of Peter Kaufman, “across the geological time scale of human, organic, and inorganic history.”

Will and Ariel Durant, writing in the amazing Lessons of History, say “all of the achievements of man fall humbly into the history of polymorphous life.”

To paraphrase, the Durants suggest that the natural world, and the world of humans, is among other things, fundamentally competitive. And that in some regards, individuals group for competitive purposes, and that by inference, I group with others like me as a competitive act.

Multi tasking is eroding the capabilities of my group. What to do about it?

Coda. Smartphones are ruling our lives and killing our imaginations

Smartphone Stats

Book of love. Books and ideas

We buy books

Or a thinkier, less rock’n’roll way of putting a similar proposition, plus an added barb, “Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them; but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.” Arthur Schopenhauer

Further to this idea of accumulating data, information and knowledge, are questions of why? And, what to do with it? Well, maybe nothing. Maybe we surround ourselves with ideas because we like their company; it’s like being at a party with the world’s most interesting people (real and imaginary) and not having to talk to anyone.

All the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal. … But with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not.” Nick Hornby, The Polysyllabic Spree

I think the collections we build are an insight into the soul, and who and what we dream of being.

Moonage daydream. Blogging and ideas

cropped-knowhere.jpegSo what’s Knowhere about? Work stuff, such as education, technology and innovation. society, government (good and bad), community, philosophy, the future, the past, the present. Business and organisations, leadership, entrepreneurship, management, and strategy. Systems Thinking, Design Thinking, automation, robotics, gamification, diversity, decision-making, intranets and the web. Start ups and stuff ups. Data, information and knowledge. People and the way we collaborate.

And non-work interests, such as science, movies, theatre, music, visual arts, books, food, feminism, and stuff. This isn’t a showcase for work or career, it’s more holistic than that.

The audience is me, primarily. I want to be able to connect the dots of my own thoughts and those of others, and see where that goes. I also want to be able to find stuff I like and so I see this blog and Pinterest as memory extenders.

Of course the world doesn’t need another blog, more digital documents or anything else. It’s a postmodern world (or post postmodern, I can never remember). So, I’m just going to do what I want, for a change.