The Coming Era of Super Employment
Pandemic or no, technology and innovation keep marching along. That will be the key to personal financial and national macro-economic progress. Take television technology … please!
Twenty-five years ago, a 32-inch television was massive and ridiculously heavy, bulky enough to be considered a piece of furniture. Today that same screen size seems too small even for a bedroom. We can buy an inconceivably gigantic 75-inch screen for less than $1,000 and then hang it on the wall, taking up no floor space.
What will it be like to watch television at home 25 years from now? Will it still be an appliance found on or along the wall? Will it be a projected image? Or maybe digital wallpaper?
And then there’s the viewing experience itself. At what point will home television become three dimensional in space, like a hologram? Will it have touchscreen capabilities like our cellphones? Will we be able to stretch or shrink the image, rotate it, alter the background music to match our mood, or change the point-of-view perspective?
What are the limits to customized viewing experiences? How about editing the characters in a television movie so they look like ourselves? Or selecting alternate endings and divergent plots just like we do now with some interactive dinner theater presentations?
Our Demand-Driven Economy
The point here is that there seemingly will be no end to innovation in television technology. In turn, this innovation will drive demand for new television entertainment systems.
The same can be said about everything from smartphones to automobiles. Most of us upgrade these and similar products fairly frequently, chasing innovation and new features that we never knew we needed but suddenly can’t do without.
Innovation – The Ultimate Job Creator
So, let’s take it a step further. Innovation drives demand … and demand drives business activity and job creation.
That’s why, contrary to what many people are leading us to believe, we’re entering an era of super employment driven in large part by our shortened attention spans, our tendency to be bored with last year’s models, and our desire to be seen on the cutting edge in all things. The first to get the iPhone XX. Eager to demonstrate our devotion to earth stewardship by buying the latest model electric car.
Powered by AI
Much of the future innovation in consumer products will be driven by artificial intelligence – not only in features but production processes. Machines are getting smarter and can take over repetitive, time-consuming tasks. Human beings will be able to “upscale” their jobs to contribute higher-level value related to production innovation and strategy – the kinds of functions that machines can’t as easily replicate.
Repetitive tasks will be “outsourced” to AI solutions, allowing the human workforce to be creative and somewhat more independent. Prospective employees will have more choices than ever, and the freelance world will provide an alluring alternative to traditional employment. Even with COVID behind us, “working from home” will continue to be the case for many people and that will increasingly feed into a “working for myself” mindset.
Employment skills upgrades
It’s important that employees realize technology will not so much replace human jobs as it will upscale human jobs. The people who are only comfortable in, or who prefer, a more machine-like work role will need to expand their horizons. Schools will need to instill this mindset.
It’s equally important, though, that tomorrow’s workers realize that not everyone will be expected to be a computer programmer. However, they will need to embrace an almost supervisory role when it comes to machine work processes. Fortunately, innovation not only creates new capabilities and efficiencies, but it can make technical jobs less technical.
Micro-industries and jobs
Over the coming two decades, we’ll witness an unprecedented wave of innovation and creativity driven by new tools of production. And during that time, we’ll also see an explosion of tens of thousands of new micro-industries that will employ hundreds of thousands of people.
Thanks to a wide array of emerging technologies, there will be an assortment of innovative “playgrounds” for thinkers, inventors, and entrepreneurs that will spring to life. They’ll launch micro-industries that range from manufacturing, data management, system design, advising, coaching, monitoring, assembling, disassembling, and reinventing business in unique and different ways.
With the help of thousands of collaborators, micro-industries will spring to life around niches far too small for existing industries to care about. But it’s within these incremental advances that great opportunities take root. That’s always been the case. We rely on startups to develop new processes or products that ultimately are absorbed into a larger enterprise.
Hang on tight and ride the wave
As noted at the outset, we won’t run out of innovation – and it’s not just televisions and cars. A simple coffee mug can be redesigned in a dozen ways. The same holds true for many other consumer and commercial products.
We’re entering an unusually creative period of human history. Those who embrace this kind of change will prosper, and companies that study and embrace this fluid “jobscape” will build flourishing enterprises. Our leaders and government policies should remove all possible roadblocks that might inhibit this.
Then over time, but sooner than you think, we’ll find ourselves with far more jobs than we’re able to fill – an era of super employment.