Three people can make and install a classical kitchen. A carpenter, a plumber and an electrician. But we need only two to install an almost automatic kitchen lab. One, who lifts up all the machines and aggregates and one who integrates them all into a system. "The Biceps" and "The Brain".
Some experts see three worlds of labor.
Working with intelligent machines
Working in the factories of the big companies whose headquarters are in the skyscrapers of the "world trade centers"... They'll become even bigger and more profitable and they'll advertise long-term job contracts asking for engagement and flexibility.
Working around the quality of life
Working for the companies whose social responsibility dominates the corporate culture. They'll offer ethical values and balanced principles of work and demand loyalty, green sense of responsibility.
Working on a short-term contract basis
Working for companies that want flexibility by minimal fixed costs. Often small businesses that want to achieve rapid growth trough innovation. They promise varied challenge and autonomy but on a short-term contractual basis.
The polarization of work
But striving for a better politics, I'm more interested in the polarization. The biceps versus the brain polarization, the system makers vs the users…Especially, what will happen, when technology becomes capable of self reorganization and replication.
Think of a skilled lathe operator, who has produced complicated parts on a lathe manually. A marvel of mechanics, hydraulics and electrics. Then, she became trained as programmer of computerized lathes and managed three of them in parallel. She got an off-line programming system that provided animation of the operations, making her quite comfortable that things will go right…But after thousands of computerized machines were connected and centrally programmed and monitored…the headache began. Will she understand parametric programming, the theory of optimal operation plans…?
Once upon a time there was a profession and a job for a lifetime
OK, we can accept that this time is gone. The change created the chance that the new job was more exiting and generated more income.
But, the threatening polarization, conveyed by smart connected systems, rises a few questions:
Can education win the race against technology? IMO, in the age of quantification and context, the innovation spiral turns faster. This does not mean we shall give up emphasizing on education. No, we need to think of new methodologies and use clever tools to educate better…but this may not be enough.
Will technology be more responsible than economic and politics rules? That question brings to my mind that it was never so easy to start a business, but in many industrial countries start-ups are in decline. So, IMO, it seems political rules do not fit well to technological capabilities.
Will technology describe a new nature of work that changes everything? This may happen, if technology becomes an underlying for cultural, socio-economi and political systems…supporting more quantitative treatment and adaptation.
New technology - new work - new economics - new politics.
p.s. Think of the quants. They contribute to the replacement of quant work by systems. What will they do? Develop even better quant replacing systems? Design a fundamentally new financial system? Reinvent risk management? Become a quant trainer?...