Tag Archives: technology

Three articles, our children, and food for thought


A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article entitled, Is Your Job About To Disappear?: Quick Take, said this:

“Throughout much of the developed world, gainful employment is seen as almost a fundamental right. But what if, in the not-too-distant future, there won’t be enough jobs to go around? That’s what some economists think will happen as robots and artificial intelligence increasingly become capable of performing human tasks. Of course, past technological upheavals created more jobs than they destroyed. But some labor experts argue that this time could be different: Technology is replacing human brains as well as brawn.”

In his review of “The Golden Passport” in the April 10th New York Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote, “The book is a richly reported indictment of the [Harvard Business School] as a leading reason that corporate America is disdained by much of the country … Citing a report from the Aspen Institute, [the book’s author Duff] McDonald explains that “when students enter business school, they believe that the purpose of a corporation is to produce goods and services for the benefit of society. When they graduate,” he continued, “they believe that it is to maximize shareholder value.”

The Real Threat of Artificial Intelligence appeared on the Opinion page of the New York Times Sunday Review dated June 24, 2017. It was written by Kai-Fu Lee, chairman and chief executive of Sinovation Ventures, a venture capital firm, and the president of its Artificial Intelligence Institute.

Clearly the debate is heating up. At some point, someone or a group of someones will decide the winner, if there is a winner. Others will hand down a verdict on whether or not the Harvard Business School should take the credit or the blame for how enthusiastically business has embraced technology.

Families about to engage with their children in discussions about post-secondary education might want to answer these questions: Will there be 40-hour-a-week jobs with benefits and retirement pensions? Where? What kinds of jobs will they be? What education will it take to qualify for them? It’s a start.

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or objects.” — Albert Einstein

A friend of mine from “over ‘ome” uses two expressions that could only have originated in Old Blighty: “bugger’s muddle” and “saggarmaker’s bottom knocker”.

As a country, we’re in a bugger’s muddle over the subject of the work we choose to do. We always have been, but now we’re somewhat more perplexed. What do we want from work? How do we prepare and compete for it? How do we find it? Will it find us? Will it make us happy? Will it secure our retirement? Will it be there by the time we enter the workforce, or will it have been replaced by something “new and improved”?

Ask everyone you know how he or she defines “work” and you’ll probably hear a different definition from each of them. Why? Because what people do to earn a living and why they do it is driven by where they live, the influence of their families and friends, the values of the community of which they’re a part, how those values shape their view of the world, and how the experience impacts on them. And by whether they’re committed to the idea that you can actually do what you love and love what you do.

By the way, saggarmaker’s bottom knocker is a real occupation, albeit one that’s almost obsolete and was probably never found in Canada.

The world’s MI (muddle index) has risen by several orders of magnitude because of what the world’s up to and what it’s doing with technology, among other things. In fairness, technology isn’t to blame as much as the speed with which it’s insinuated itself into every facet of our life. But that only happened because we let it happen and we welcomed it. For example, there are at least 100 microprocessors in the car you’re driving, not to mention what’s in your smartphone. Your HDTV wouldn’t exist without them. Neither would your refrigerator, your microwave oven and many of today’s timepieces. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget Moore’s Law.

Medicine wouldn’t be medicine without technology. Neither would hearing aids. Do you listen to your favourite music on vinyl or do you download it to a digital device? Do you stream video to your iPad?

How long did it take for life to become technologically incomprehensible? It depends on when you start counting. Babbage and Turing never saw a SIM card. This link to Wikipedia will give you a bird’s eye view of the history of what makes computers tick, and of their predecessors. The first modern commercial computers date from 1951. The Internet was born on April 7, 1969. The personal computer received IBM’s blessing in 1981. Apple’s first iPhone debuted on January 9, 2007. If that isn’t breathtaking enough, ask yourself when you first heard the words “Google” and “smartphone”. When was the last time you heard anyone talk about AOL, Netscape, Compaq or Flying Toasters? They used to be household words.

We don’t have to understand technology to make peace with it. But if we’re looking for work, we might want to understand whose business is changing because of it and that that business could be a source of employment.

This is the world we live in. Anyone who’s unclear about how it came to be what it is is in excellent company. What it will become is anybody’s guess. But old ideas that give way to the new ones many of us love to embrace don’t fade away because they’re obliged to; they’re abandoned in favour of better ideas. And that process will never stop.

If you’re looking for a new source of income, or plan to be, try not to lose sight of the fact that, in more places than you can imagine, the next best things are already taking shape. We don’t wash our laundry by pounding it on rocks by the edge of the river, and fewer and fewer of us hang it out to dry on clotheslines. Would you really want to live without Google, your iPhone, Facebook and Twitter?

People with imagination, conviction, energy, a better idea and a competitive spirit have always been with us. They started companies that spawned competitors and formed industries that produced things we didn’t even know we needed and now can’t live without. When we buy a digital camera, do we give a second thought to the thousands of people who lost their jobs producing photographic film and photographic paper and processing them? How much film do cameras in smartphones use?

Nothing about our lives, our careers or our work is happening in a vacuum. Thanks to social media and wireless telephones, stories that are headline news in the morning are yesterday’s news by evening. In the real game of life, résumés, networking and social media play a distant second fiddle to sifting through and making sense of how today’s 2.5 quintillion byte ration of what the human race has been up to impacted on your Plan A—and your plan B, if you have one. Tomorrow there will be another 2.5 quintillion bytes.

Personal Due Diligence is predicated on the notion that the world is still a pretty exciting place. You can tap into that excitement for your own benefit if you’re prepared to be one of the relatively few people looking in out-of-the way places today, before the other 7 billion people on the planet discover them.

PDD doesn’t claim to understand everything about this world: far from it. But we understand enough about it because our work demands it. We guide our clients in how to extract deep market intelligence so that they can apply it to evaluating and managing the risk associated with decisions that will shape their career and their life.

You might want to listen to Talkin’ ’bout an ethical revolution: Money, morals and movements of change. It first aired on The Current on CBC Radio One on July 2, 2013. It’s about the human condition. You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the link or by downloading it. You may not agree with everything you hear, but it’s 27 minutes and 30 seconds of radio that will make you think. We inserted “personal” in front of “due diligence” because even though we understand technology, first and foremost PDD is about people.

Making personal choices and decisions in today’s economic and social climate is hardly a walk in the park, but they must be made. Please drop us a line or call. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you’ll find.