Finding, Creating (and Keeping) a Job in the Era of AI

What’s valuable is flexible, entrepreneurial, experiential-based skills that can be applied to a variety of problems–including those that have yet to arise.

Finding or creating a job with real upside–and keeping it–has been increasingly challenging for a long time. Globalization exposed the economy and workforce to unprecedented cost-cutting competition, and automation ate away at work that could be reduced to routines. Now AI is introducing a new level of automation to sectors that had heretofore been protected.

We can summarize the situation thusly: if AI doesn’t disrupt the sector you work in, something else will. Will You Be Richer or ... Smith, Charles Hugh Best Price: $10.99 Buy New $11.55 (as of 05:55 UTC - Details)

I’ve been thinking about work, jobs, money, automation, AI and the economy for many years, thoughts that resulted in my books Get A Job, Build A Career, And Defy A Bewildering Economy (2014), A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All (2015), Money and Work Unchained (2017) and Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power and A.I. in a Traumatized World (2019).

If I had to boil it all down to a few paragraphs, I’d start with this:

1. Enterprises and governments are fundamentally problem-solving entities. They organize labor, capital and tools to solve problems. This clarifies our understanding of the value of human work: we’re all solving problems of one kind or another. Those who can solve a variety of problems will always be in demand somewhere in the society and economy. A Radically Beneficial... Charles Hugh Smith Best Price: $8.45 Buy New $1.99 (as of 05:25 UTC - Details)

2. We’re told to acquire credentials as evidence of our knowledge, but the more direct path is to accredit ourselves by demonstrating and recording our real-world problem-solving skills. Diplomas accredit the completion of a course of study, but they don’t actually accredit knowledge or problem-solving skills that can be usefully applied in the real world. We serve our best interests by accrediting those ourselves.

3. The world is over-supplied with credentials which don’t actually accredit what employers and customers value most. The net result is the value of credentials is declining, as there is a mismatch of supply and demand: what’s valuable is flexible, entrepreneurial, experiential-based skills that can be applied to a variety of problems–including those that have yet to arise.

4. Self-knowledge is as essential as problem-solving skills. We cannot fully realize our potential until we identify our core interests, talents and character traits, and align them with what I call the eight essential problem-solving skills. Nobody is talented in every facet, and so we have to choose work that leverages what we’re good at and find interesting, and compensate as best we can for what we’re only passable at managing.

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