Future of Work: Sustainability, R&D and... Education

Pandemics does not create anything new, it is only accelerating the death of the old. So do robotization and automation, by the way. They are clearing the way for our distant dreams. What dreams?

In 2017-2020 I collected images of preferable futures, generalized and grouped them by relevance to the areas of human activities. Table 1 below summarizes my observations with regard to three large areas.


Table 1. Promising areas for work in the midterm (approximately 2020-2030)

Rationale for my proposals in Table 1.


1. Sustainability

We all know why; I hope there is no need to explain.

2. AI, diverse transports, R&D in other areas

Most of possible non-deteriorating transformations are connected with development of intelligence (probably artificial), followed by innovations in moving and transportation in the broadest sense (see my Master’s thesis here). Since such transformations are desirable at least for someone, it is reasonable to expect more demand in the corresponding fields. The third suggestion (R&D in other fields) assumes that creative activities are less threatened by the robotization and automation megatrend.

3. ‘Education’

I call ‘education’ a bunch of diverse activities aimed at gaining experiences. Their names can be content production, entertainment, coaching, teaching, consulting, social events organization etc. Yet they are essentially doing one thing, namely they help a person learn and change by going through new experiences. Individualized ‘education’ is another type of human activities that is less threatened by robotization and automation. We still prefer a human to tailor things to different tastes, types, backgrounds, cultures, truths, paths, feelings etc.

Demand for ‘education’, especially online education, has several drivers. They include such trends as digitization and virtualization, growing diversity of individual cultures (e.g. possible genders), aspirations for meaningfulness and self-actualization, growing loneliness in some developed countries etc.

Supply is also growing, not only quantitatively, but also qualitatively and in terms of diverse platforms and technologies that content makers use to create and deliver their products. For example, during pandemics, many traditionally offline activities (e.g. traveling, theatre playing, museum visiting, dance learning etc) established stronger online presence, creating new niches and urging technologies to come up with more suitable tools.

What usually follows quantity of suppliers is more even distribution of revenue. Currently most content makers make zero profits, except top celebrities. Content making is more of a hobby than profession. Yet if people want, they will find a way. Not only can they invent new business models – for example, they may call for global rules of content use to be changed so that paying for most of content becomes obligatory and gets conveniently automated. They are also likely to keep their market shares in the long time if they maintain their focus on individualization, on being friends (unlike robotized service providers). Like artisan bread bakeries, most creators work for small audiences (e.g. limited by common language, psychological traits, shared knowledge, personal relationships), and they have good chances to keep their market shares even if there are ‘food supermarkets’ in vicinity.

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