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Work and Life in 2030

Today's post comes to us from board member Christian Kromme. Here he imagines how machine learning will impact work and life in 2030.

Imagine it is 2030. Today, it's quite normal to communicate with your computer in the same way you interact with human beings. You can use natural language, show your emotions, and use gestures and your computer understands you.

Life can sometimes feel more like a scene from the Will Smith version of the Isaac Asimov novel I, Robot. Machine learning software has developed so fast in the last decade that our computers have been learning at an exponential rate. It means that they're able to have a level of advanced sensory perception that's getting close to ours. Our computers can now interpret visual, auditory, and tactile information in such a natural way that it's now perfectly normal for us to expect them to be able to process things like we can.

Our modern machine learning algorithms have enabled us to create all kinds of smart software and hardware tools; tools that have made our lives more comfortable than ever and even more convenient. Our organizations and even our families have been able to use these amazing machine learning algorithms to learn and solve some complex problems. As a result, our homes, our transport vehicles, our personal devices, our companies, and just about everything we come into contact with has become exponentially smarter.

Back in the early 2020s, machines were finally able to learn from humans, and in the process, our machines started to adapt to us more and more. Now our technology actually understands our exact human needs. It has been able to adapt to us by adopting behaviors that are ever more human and more natural for us to be around. We are so well taken care of that we have finally had the foresight to look beyond ourselves.

So the question now is this: What next? What needs do we still have? Well, that question was the one that, all those years ago, so interested Abraham Maslow. Remember his pyramid? The bottom of the pyramid was all about deficiency needs and the top of the pyramid was all about growth needs. Right at the top was the ultimate in human expression, the very essence of self. Right at the top is our own need for self-actualization; our need to create, our need for the ultimate in purpose and the self-expression of our very humanity. Our future lies in a sense of purpose that defines who we are.

So, what will the future of work look like? Well, when machines can do the work with chips, humans can do the work with their hearts. I believe that the way human beings can differentiate themselves from machines (and therefore stay ahead of them) is to develop our inner human and build on our soft-skills.

I believe that disruptive technologies will rapidly destroy jobs that aren't worth our attention but will also create a new generation of jobs that are much more focused on our soft human qualities. The future work, in my opinion, will be about knowing your true self and using advanced technology to connect with other people.

Being who you really are and living that to the full is the way to create true happiness in the long term. So, when machines have automated many of our deficiency needs, we will focus on our growth needs, and our work will become a reflection of that.

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