In the era of A.I. and automation, what job skills do you need most?
As robots and automation take over jobs, there will still be some occupations where humans will be preferred, says theoretical physicist and best-selling author Michio Kaku.
Michio Kaku: People often ask me the question, “In the era of AI what jobs and what skills will I need?”
Well, first of all let’s take a look at the first era of space exploration the 1960s.
There was a crash program back then to miniaturize the transistor. That’s why our astronauts like John Glenn, they’re short people. They were tiny people.
The Russian astronauts, they’re also very tiny because they have to fit inside the nose cone of a missile, and we scientists were given the mission to miniaturize transistors as far as possible.
Now, as a consequence of that, we have what is called the Internet age today. All the goodies you see in your living room, all the telecommunication wonders of the Internet were in part a consequence of this mass drive to miniaturize transistors, because we were in the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
Now, as we enter the second golden era there’s going to be yet another crash program to miniaturize computers even more.
This means transistors made out of molecules, quantum computers, a whole new era of computation.
So there could be yet another golden age of computer technology emerging because of the emphasis placed on going to Mars with the cheapest, lightest possible object, and this means even more computer power.
Then the other question is: “Well, what are the jobs that are going to be there in the future?”
Well, first of all I tell people that semiskilled work will be with us for many decades to come, including garbage men, sanitation workers, plumbers, policemen, gardeners, construction workers. You see, robots cannot pick up garbage. Robots cannot design a garden. Robots cannot solve a crime.
We forget that robots are very bad at pattern recognition! Robots cannot fix your toilet, and they probably won’t be able to for many decades to come. In fact the Pentagon even sponsored the DARPA Challenge to create a Fukushima robot. Their job was to take our skills of today and build a robot that could clean up Fukushima.
This means A, driving a car, B, getting out of the car, C, sweeping the floor, turning a valve and doing some simple maintenance work that a five-year-old kid could do. Well, the results are on the Internet. You can download them and they’re hilarious. You see many robots falling over with the inability to get up because they’re like an upside down turtle; they‘re simply stuck on the floor.
We have a long ways to go before we master pattern recognition at the level of a plumber, at the level of a gardener.
The job to avoid in the future, however, are the middleman jobs, for example, brokers and low-level tellers and accountants. For example, today when you go to a stockbroker you no longer buy stock. Now you may say to yourself, “That’s stupid, everybody knows when you go to a stockbroker you buy stock, I mean what else are you going to buy?” Well, no. You don’t buy stock when you go to a stockbroker. You can buy stock on your wristwatch so why bother to go to a stockbroker? Because you want something that stockbrokers provide that robots cannot. And that is intellectual capital. That means experience, know how, savvy, innovation, talent, leadership—none of which computers and robots can provide.
So the large explosion of jobs in the future will be jobs that robots cannot do, i.e. Jobs involving pattern recognition and jobs involving common sense, as well as middlemen jobs that involve intellectual capital, creativity—products of the mind. Those are the jobs which are still going to flourish in the future.
As Tony Blair of England likes to say, England derives more revenue today from rock ‘n’ roll than it does with the coal mining industry. And why is that? Because coal mining represents commodity capital. Commodity capital, yes we’ll have it for decades, centuries to come, but it falls in price every year.
Agriculture, for example: today you had breakfast that the king of England could not have had a hundred years ago. Think of what you had for breakfast: Delicacies from around the world, almost for free. That’s because agriculture being a commodity drops in price because of better containerization, mass production, shipping, better cultural methods and things like that.
So this means that jobs that are intellectual rather than are commodity related will flourish in the future.
As robots and automation take over jobs, there will still be some occupations where humans will be preferred. Theoretical physicist and best-selling author Michio Kaku weighs in on the kind of job skills you need to have to stay employed and relevant in the near future.
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How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
A popular and longstanding wave of thought in psychology and psychotherapy is that diagnosis is not relevant for practitioners in those fields.
Scientists regenerate damaged spinal cord nerve fibers with designer protein, helping paralyzed mice walk again.
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- The procedure employs gene therapy to regenerate damaged nerve fibers that carry signals to and from the brain.
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PARME staff archaeologists excavating a burial site at the Tamanache site, Mérida, Yucatan.
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