There are three topics that should be discussed as we forge the next economy: the Autonomous World, Silicon Valley feudalism, and ensuring human safety from advanced robots.
For the second year, I’ll be at Tim O’Reilly’s Next:Economy Conference in San Francisco on Oct. 10–11, which brings technology, the economy, and forward-thinking industry leaders together under one roof. These events set the tone for the impacts of technology on businesses, governments, societies, and global economies.
I see three red-hot challenges for the Next:Economy:
The Autonomous World. What role do humans play when robots do jobs better? This topic, which was discussed at the last Next:Economy, was a major theme –yet we’re nowhere near from settling it. Did you know the White House predicts that 83% of workers who make less than $20 an hour are likely to be replaced by robots? And it’s about a one-third replacement rate for those who make $21 to $40 an hour. We need continued dialog about solutions, including a combination of: upskilling, which will likely never catch up to robots because they will learn faster than humans ever can; and universal basic income or a guaranteed wage for all humans to offset the robots that will increase productivity and replace human jobs.
Is Silicon Valley creating global feudalism models? Economically, is this the best way forward? This topic, which I’ve tackled a few times in my own keynotes, is in response to the fact that Silicon Valley startups are owned by the 1% elite — who then create platforms for the rest of society to use. Who are these 1%? Are they benevolent dictators? Early risk-takers? Deserving capitalists? Folks who just got lucky? They’re likely a combination of all of the above, but the reality is that they’re becoming the most powerful group on the planet. For example, Mark Zuckerberg could, on a whim, place his thumb on the Facebook newsfeed and fill it with content and stories that veer to either the Left or Right points of view. Elon Musk has already developed powerful space programs that are starting to challenge public sector aerospace and are innovating quickly for future world exploration and transportation. These powerful entrepreneurs not only own and control the data and technology we use daily, but they are also able to fund the nonprofits of their choosing through incredible wealth that sometimes outmatches public sector spending.
To protect the human economy, should we have an “off” switch for computer intelligence? How do we influence, manage, or even control advanced robotics and artificial intelligence systems that will eventually become superior to human intellect? Should there be a standards board, a set of legislation, or even a security force that manages robots? Beyond the fears of most dystopian science fiction films, what can we do now to set the groundwork before these technologies are self-sufficient without human support. For example, scientists seek to create a system of checks and balances for advanced robots that ensure humans have fail safes, power-offs, and other security measures that could provide forms of safety. Today, technology is dependent on humans to be created, managed, and supported. Tomorrow, a new level of co-dependency will evolve. On the day after, advanced technology may be independent of human support — will we be ready for this future?
So there you have it: three distinct topics that are set to reshape the economy of the future. You can see the themes of technology overtaking human jobs, those who own these technologies, and ensuring we have balance points for safety. All these and other pressing issues will demand our top insights and ingenuity in order to prepare us all for the next phases of technology, business, government, society, and the economy.
(photo by Pexels)
Things are going to get worse before they get better
It’s official, we’re in a recession, say economists. Four quarters since Q4 2007 indicate this economic change and Bloomberg reports that “The U.S. economy may be headed for its deepest and longest recession since World War II”.
Things look even more grim as the, Associated Press reports that employers cut 533K jobs in Nov., most in 34 years”, of course this impacts personal lives as LA Times shows that 10% of homeowners are in or are nearing foreclosure status. My job is to listen to the marketplace, and I didn’t hear anyone talking about this until Sept 2008, it’s as if US, and the world were taken by surprise.
Perhaps the scariest thing for most, is that no matter how hard you work, you could get layed off. Your division, your budget, or your role could get eliminated.
Five Ways Web Professionals Should Be Proactive In a Recession
I’m not all doom and gloom, here’s how you can be proactive, even if you work at a Fortune 100, you are after all, a company of one, so respect yourself and be proactive:
Learn How to Adjust at Your Day Job
I survived 10 rounds of layoffs and was the final 12.5% of Exodus before I went to work at World Savings, what did I do learn? The trick is to stay flexible and demonstrate you can adapt, increase revenues, or use your skills in a scalable and efficient way. You’ll also need to properly internal market your abilities within your corporation or with your clients to demonstrate why you and your services give greater return out the end. Fortunately, the web can be such a tool –if you know how to do it right.
Understand How Social Media is a Risk and Opportunity
Social media has an opportunity in a recession, these tools are cheap, some marketing campaigns range from 10-50k on the low end, far less expensive than any traditional marketing. Of course, with comes great risk: doing it wrong can result in a punking, not doing anything at all could leave you exposed, and most brands overlook the amount of labor required to develop these programs. As a result, I’m working on an upcoming report, and we’re surveying social media marketers to find out if they’re going to increase –or decrease –their social media resources during a downturn. In fact, we’re re jigging some of my research agenda to meet the needs of the market and client –so stay tuned.
Use Online Networking Tools to Connect
If you’re a web professional, or are involved with social media in your career, I want you to network with others in my Web Strategy Facebook Group (there are over 9000 folks there), or within the Community Manager Facebook Group (over 2000 folks). You should also be updating your LinkedIn Profile (doing so triggers updates to others) and connect and reconnect with folks you need to synch up with.
Attend Real World Events
The need to connect in person (yes, real life) is the core essence of what makes us social animals, and as a result, I’ve organized a free networking event called a Tweetup in Silicon Valley this coming Thursday, and 81 intent to come, and 62 others are interested. I found this list of things to do before you get layed off very helpful. If you’re in the area, come out to the event, bring your clients, meet clients, network with others, now is the time to link in with others, build your network before you need them.
Always Be Looking For Opportunities
Even if your work for a corporation you’re a company of one, you have control over your destiny, therefore you must always have your ear to the rail, listening and meeting folks that could potentially help you. I’ve made friends with some of the top recruiters in the web industry, and I’ve been helping them when the economy was good –think ahead. If you recently were layed off, or are looking to move up, Forrester is hiring a social media analyst (email your resume to jowyang at forrester dot com), and you can peruse the Web Strategy Job Board or learn who has recently been hired and on the move.
Stay close to this blog, those who are readers benefit not just from the content on the blog, but more importantly the community that surrounds this blog. I’m only as successful as those around me, so it’s in my best interest to help you –we can do this together.
There’s a few things I can do to be proactive, and they include:
I’m here for the long haul, I knew the internet was my calling, been through dot bomb, and will be here after this dip.
In my day job as an Industry Analyst, I will conduct research to find out what marketing efforts work –and don’t– in a recession.
I’ll continue to post on this blog, and gear content that doesn’t just talk about the economic changes, but gives some suggestions to improve.
Offer online community resources that allow my network to benefit directly from each other, like Facebook networking.
Highlight who’s hiring, who got hired, and why. Discuss what skills are needed in the future to be successful.
Continue to organize free community events (like Tweetups) for those to meet, connect, and grow as a group.
Got other tips for web professionals bracing for an economic downturn? leave a comment.