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  • Giles Sibbald

is there a plan B….anyone?

why we need to develop new skills

I love music. It’s been in my life since I was, maybe 8 years old when I had to choose an instrument at school.

Technology and humans

When humans and technology come together to create sonic masterpieces (and some non-masterpieces, let’s face it), it can be pretty stunning.

The electronic distortion and choral beauty unifying as one to put the challenges we face on stark display.

Blimey, we need unity if we are to stand a chance.

Our world is agitated and agitating.

Keeping a clear head isn’t easy.

To disentangle oneself from the frequently pessimistic, polarising noise of how we interact today.

The world has become more faceless.

Harder to get things done.

We undoubtedly connect and interact in very different ways than previous generations. Have we humans lost the ability to connect, though? It’s easier to hide our fears and avoid difficult conversations.

We can choose how and when we use technology but we may not always make the right choices. In fact, we don’t always make the right choices, especially when it comes to subjects that are emotive.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is all about extreme automation and extreme connectivity. But, the productivity growth resulting from this innovative technology has not led to stronger wage growth and better living standards.

I believe the next revolution is already upon us and it’s about humans.

This time, we need to embrace the technology and rebuild it with a human connection.

Live longer, work longer

A child born in the West today can expect to live to be 105 years old. If you are reading this as a 20 year old, you have on average a 50% chance of living to over 100. And a 40 year old has the same chance of reaching 95. Whilst large disparities in life expectancy still exist across regions - Africa, for example, reported an increase between 2000-2005 and 2010-2015 of 6.6 years, compared to 2 years in the previous decade – and social economic circumstances, we are all generally living longer.

We are also facing more pressure to work longer.

State retirement ages increasing.

It’s harder and harder to generate retirement income that lasts for those extra years that we are living.

More and more of us are going to face astronomic health care costs from conditions such as dementia that are no longer be funded by the state.

Multi-stage life – who’s ready to experiment?

To cap off your day at the office, let me finish with this.

My parents grew up in an era where you went to school, you worked, you retired – 3 stage life. This way of living is almost redundant.

We are now leading multi-stage lives where we experiment, explore and transition throughout our life.

Chin up, there is a bright side. Basic human capital theory from almost 100 years ago says that we improve our prospects when we develop and grow our talents and skills. This holds true for our entire lives, not just work.

We do not have a template for living with such volatility and uncertainty.

And complexity and ambiguity.

We are going to need to a whole new set of breakthrough skills.

We need to be bold and experiment to get through this.


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