Sunday, December 22, 2013

The future of jobs and the end of "average"

HBR interviews Tyler Cowen, author of Average is Over and co-author of Marginal Revolution:

Workers more and more will come to be classified into two categories. The key questions will be: Are you good at working with intelligent machines or not? Are your skills a complement to the skills of the computer, or is the computer doing better without you? … If you and your skills are a complement to the computer, your wage and labor market prospects are likely to be cheery. If your skills do not complement the computer, you may want to address that mismatch. Ever more people are starting to fall on one side of the divide or the other. That’s why average is over.

One thing the book suggests is that only being technically skilled may not be that useful, because those jobs can be outsourced or even turned over to smart machines. But people who can bridge that gap between technical skills and knowing some sector in a way that’s more creative or more intuitive, that’s where the large payoffs will come.

A classic example is Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook. Obviously a great programmer, but had he just gone out to be paid as a programmer he wouldn’t be that well off. He was a psychology major — he understood how to appeal to users, to get them to come back to the site. So he had that integrative knowledge.

For people who are not technically skilled, marketing, persuasion, cooperation, management, and setting expectations are all things that computers are very far from being good at. It comes down to just communicating with other human beings.

No comments: