We are facing major disruption in the next half-century but there are a lot of positive things going to happen because of a breakthrough in technology and the power of the internet. It’s going to change every aspect of work in the future.” Said, Professor Christopher Dede, Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Education while addressing the virtual audience at People Matters TechHR conference 2020.
The professor highlights that in a shrinking job market and turbulent world, training and upskilling are more critical than ever. Undeniably, the online environment is where the majority of this training will take place.
Undoubtedly the world work has changed and going forward employers and employees will expect a lot of change in the future too. Multiple talent and knowledge are required for people in this new context shared Dede.
According to him, until now everyone was focussing on talent management and cognitive outcomes. But now, everyone should focus on intrapersonal skills, people disposition, things like flexibility, and appreciation of diversity because these things are going to be extremely important for lifelong learning.
He said, “Economists talk about the division of labor between humans and machines. As machines learning and AI get powerful some jobs are disappearing but for many jobs, people skills are involved and the machines are only taking the simpler and routine-oriented jobs.”
Upskilling and AI
Dede added, “He also stressed that one needs to upskill and the reason you need to upskill is that if you simply keep your old set of skills then part of yourself disappears and you end up working for a machine.”
Dede points out that if you upskill and don’t do the routine stuff and indulge yourself in creative and complicated things then instead of AI you have ‘IA’ intelligence amplification.
Professor Dede has done extensive research into learning engineering and educational optimization - even publishing a book on the subject in 2018. According to him, this mode of technology allows you to see patterns “that help you understand which students learn best through which approaches.” In this respect, virtual learning undoubtedly has the upper hand. “The point is: this works much better in remote learning than through face-to-face learning because in remote learning you’re collecting everything automatically, but in face-to-face learning, you’re collecting very little. So we have the opportunity to use rich data streams to make a difference,” says Dede.
He points to the work of Professor Ashok Goel at Georgia Tech, who’s the development of AI technologies encompasses teaching assistants that can answer questions, social assistants that help students find other students in large classes who they may share interests with and library assistants. “These are not substitutes for human beings, this is not to say we will not need teaching assistants, but what AI does is the simpler, time-consuming, routine parts of human work, which frees up human beings to do the complicated, interesting parts of work,” Dede says.
According to his calculation, people would have to work longer to outlive their money and shift in jobs or promotions; shifts are normal but the shift in careers is going to happen soon.
He concluded by saying that people may have some 5-7 careers and some of those careers don’t exist yet. This will take life long learning and upskilling.