Future of Work
I’m OBSESSED by the future. As Woody Allen famously said “we’re all interested in the future, for that’s where we’re all heading.”
I’m obsessed with it, as I recently wrote on my own blog, because of the hope I have that it will be brighter tomorrow. We’ll have a more just, safe and joyful future.
I know many people don’t share that view and that all that’s coming is some dystopian technologically-wired future where we become like the humans aboard the ship that Wall-E finds in space. Or the Matrix or Terminator series or RoboCop or Ex Machina or Minority Report or Oblivion…I could go on.
Yes we WILL have to be careful about what we do with technology but we’ve already seen wars rage in cyberspace and we just don’t know it. There is an incident of hacking technology being deployed to scupper some rogue country’s nuclear plans to restore a peaceful balance and way more surveillance than we would feel good about. Some in the name of protection some in the name of intrusion.
Yet to ignore, dismiss, deny, object to advancement of thinking is a common thing for us humans. Galileo had it. Newton had and so it will continue.
My firm view is that the HR profession has a ticking expiration clock. A time when we won’t need policies; payroll; learning & development and hiring is already here. It’s just not all in one place yet. Blockchain technology; automation and robotics, networked infrastructure and organisation of human effort and artificial intelligence are all converging. We need to be in an understanding, informed and aware position not an ignorant, scared and embattled one.
We, in this profession (HR) should read Nicholas Carr, Eric Ries, Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, James McQuivey, Evgeny Morozov, Don Tapscott, Jaron Lanier, Ray Kurzweil and Clay Shirky. We should be more technologically aware. We should be technologically enabled and we should make friends with people who really really get technology.
For the future as we believe it to be – and we’re all clear on this one – is a much more technologically enabled, digitally driven and interconnected one than now.
Don’t know about the Dark Net and Tor? You should. Unaware of what Bitcoins are? You shouldn’t be. Able to understand how design methodologies work in tech development? They’re brilliant and apply to non-digital working as much as they do coding and engineering with 1s and 0s.
Justin Trudeau’s triumphant rebuttal to a journalist trying to catch him out on Quantum Computing was where HR people need to be: technologically sound and digitally savvy.
So this is unashamedly biased plea: HR has to get SMAC and more. Social Mobile Apps and Cloud plus all other aspects of digital technology.
It’s going to have an even bigger impact on work than it is now. It is going to free up people and cognitive power to put people to work more meaningfully. It is going to mean the dawn of a new working and living way.
We may be born into the world and instantly have an upload of wikipedia into our hard-drives (brains). We may be augmented by technology to overcome physical deficiencies and impairments. We may be hosts for nano-technology that keeps us well, wired and willing to do good for the world we operate in. We may also become more artistic and express ourselves more as the demand for craft grows alongside the abundance of making technology (3D, 4D printing and laser etching).
Unless we deny, dismiss and overly-distrust our advances into new forms of digitally enabled being.
HR may well cease to exist as a profession but then so could many others.
Human scientists; behavioural engineers, learning concierges and organisation designers may well have a more prominent place in the future of work that is very much a digital world. And no policy in MS Word emailed out to all staff is ever going to deliver on that proposition.