The Future of Work

Welcome to Thought Experiment #8.

At the beginning of each second month, a thought experiment question will be tweeted under the hashtag #ThoughtExperiment and everyone is invited to participate with their own posts, these will then go live together on the 15th of the next month (you can still join in after this date). Below is the question asked for this Thought Experiment.

Thanks to Sonia from Money For The Modern Girl for the awesome question.

I recently read a statistic that 85% of the jobs there will be in 2030 have not yet been created. What do you think these jobs are, and which ones will no longer exist? What does this mean for education? What will offices look like in 11 years? Will people continue to commute to a physical office or will remote work and digital nomadism take over? Finally, how do you think this will affect the overall global economic balance?

As always tweet @SavingNinja if you have participated and I’ll add your post to the list below!

Thought Experiment #8

SavingNinja

Indeedably

Othalafehu

Money For The Modern Girl

Merely Curious

Ms ZiYou

Fretful Finance

Halt Catch Fire


My vision of the future is somewhat dramatic. A lot of people who I have wagged tongues with have scoffed at these predictions, although these were the same people who believed that electric cars wouldn’t become the dominate automobile for another century.

I think these thoughts have taken precedence in my mind from the fact that I’m heavily immersed within the software and technology industry. 

I also read…a lot

Or maybe it’s just that these theories excite me. Whatever the cause, I don’t just want these things to happen, I thoroughly believe that they will, and soon!

I believe that within the next 10 years…

We will become a multi-planetary species.

We will create some form of super-AI.

We will create a fully functioning quantum computer.

We will extend our life expectancy by unparalleled amounts.

If we’ve not solved these problems within the next 10 years, I think that we’ll at least be very close.

So, with these somewhat extreme thoughts in my head, what do I think will happen to people’s jobs? How will the economy change? What will be the future of work?

Adapting to the Future

The world will be going through a growth period of unprecedented change. With the creation of super-AI, technological advances will be occurring at a rate in which we will struggle to keep up. 

The world will see an even bigger shift towards using AI for almost everything. AI will take the jobs of surgeons, teachers, builders, even hairdressers. Who needs to go to school when you can connect your brain to a super-computer and learn everything within seconds?

We can see this shift starting to happen already. Whilst the majority of the UK struggles with mass unemployment due to factory and shop workers being replaced with AI, the software industry is booming.

Even with hugely inflated salaries and signing bonuses on offer, every single company I’ve spoken to is struggling to fill developer positions. There simply aren’t enough developers to satisfy the massive investments being funneled into technology. 

Mass Revolt

As the economy moves more in this direction the only people that will thrive will be the intellectuals who are adaptable and quick to learn. The blue-collar workers which were a vital part of our economy in the past will no longer be needed as the world turns more cybernetic.

Some people simply can’t adapt and struggle to learn new technologies. I know this as my parents are people just like this, they struggle to even use a smartphone. In the vast majority of cases, these people tend to be part of the older generation. 

Admittedly, some older individuals seem to just have the knack for adapting (ever seen an 85-year-old woman with an iPhone?) But I’ve not met many youths who lack this special ability, growing up in a world of rapid change probably has something to do with the forming of this superpower.

The world will go through a period of fight or flight for the unadaptables, they’ll suffer unemployment and potentially extreme poverty as a result. The younger generation or the government will be forced to financially support their aging family. Uneducated and lower-income areas will be forced to protest and riot as they simply won’t have the means to support themselves with their now obsolete skills.

How will we Adapt?

As a society, we’ve been through changes like this before. How do you think the miners reacted when their life long skills became obsolete when they were replaced by machines?

These periods are fraught with extreme struggle as the world shifts its balance, but we as a collective always get through them eventually. 

The sad fact of the matter is that the unadaptable will eventually die of old age. The education system would have changed enough to ensure that each child growing up in this new world is sufficiently equipped to be a part of it.

How will the Economy Change?

As we venture out into the cosmos and expand our habitats, undoubtedly the people of Earth as a whole will take on a more united, ‘single entity’ viewpoint. No more will we have petty segmentations like ‘China’ and ‘The United States’, we will become Earthlings!

Broadened horizons will need the formation of a singular government to represent earth and help progress occur with the planets’ best interests at heart. A single government would also make travel and relocating extremely easy, obliterating the caveman-like tradition of being confined to the tiny spit of land in which you were born. This will also pave the way for a singular currency to be used throughout Earth.

Having a world currency would obliterate a lot of the world’s problems, we wouldn’t have to worry about exchange rate fluctuation or inflation based destruction. Having a singular currency would make the world your country, you’d be able to easily live and work anywhere, there would be no boundaries.

Travel and Remote Work

We’re already seeing a huge trend in remote work in the big tech hubs of the United Kingdom. As software becomes more reliable and easily obtained companies are realising that employees can work just as well (if not better) at home than they can in the office.

Some forward-thinking companies have even done away with the office altogether, cutting their costs drastically.

The next 10 years will see the trend continue until almost all software jobs will be remote-focused. The introduction of advanced holographic and virtual lenses into the workplace will allow colleagues to completely simulate meetings and discussions whilst bolstering the tools available to them.

Companies will no longer be limited to the talent in the local vicinity, they’ll have the whole world at their disposal. Whole swathes of land will become available to be developed into living space and recreational areas, increasing the average house sizes and quality of life for everyone.

Travel to anywhere in the world will become extremely quick and easy with transportation advances allowing you to live in Hong Kong and get to a face to face meeting in London in just 34 minutes.

Increased travel speed and remote working capabilities will drastically reduce the need to live in the inner city. London property prices will crash to depths they’ve never before seen as the city goes from the to-be place to desolate. The government will have to focus heavily on refurbishing and transforming all of the empty commercial buildings into living hubs in order to make it more attractive.

It’s a Good Thing in the End

No matter the struggle that we will have to go through to change, when we do adapt – and we will – it will be worth it.

The world will be a much more equal and compassionate place. As the borders evaporate, there will be less segmentation and hatred amongst the population. We will be able to advance as a single civilization and reach beyond the heavens without our bitter anger and patriotism holding us back.

People will be excited again as we move towards an ever-expanding future. We will be rid of disease and unnecessary suffering. Old age will no longer be fleeting and it will be able to be enjoyed with generations of family. 

It’s a world in which I’d definitely like to live in. 

How about you?

OddsMonkey

15 thoughts on “The Future of Work

  1. You’ve painted a fascinating picture of the future there SavingNinja.

    I don’t think it is age so much as reluctance to accept change that holds people back. My late mother-in-law is aged in her late 80s, and manages to drive an iPad. People will learn when there is something in it for them, like video chats with distant grandchildren.

    On your widespread unemployment point, the UK and US both currently enjoy near record low levels of unemployment. The difficulties you relate about hiring managers having trouble finding programmers are being experienced across a vast number of professions. If you look in the shop windows on your local high street, the chances are pretty good that many stores will have “help wanted” signs in the windows.

    Tying that back to the resistance to change point, this means there is plenty of work around for those who want it. However, that work may not be located close to where people currently live, in professions they prefer to work in, or at the pay levels they believe they are worth.

    Wage arbitrage is the flip side of remote working. If I can adequately perform the role from a couch in Milton Keynes, then I could also do it from a couch in Manila. Providing the technical and language skills are comparable, as an employer why would I pay the premium demanded by the worker based in England? It is their problem that they choose to live in an expensive cost of living location, not mine.

    It is possible this proves to be a great equaliser that helps level out inequality. A reversion to the mean. That would be a very uncomfortable journey for those living in high cost of living countries however.

    1. Everything should flatten out. It’s an even greater reason why people in higher cost of living countries should be pursuing FI.

      Although, with the remote working opportunities rising, there should be a much lower cost of living available, even without leaving the UK. I’m just worried about owning a property in the commuting belt to London, as prices surrounding the capital are surely likely to decline.

      Maybe you’re right about the will to learn, hopefully that will make the transition easier.

  2. If only I could think about the future as positively as you did. I guess you are right about the “we will” part, however, I cannot really agree with the within a decade timeframe. I believe that we will become a multi-planetary species within the next 100 years; we will create some form of super-AI within the next 50 years; we will extend our life expectancy by unparalleled amounts within the next 25 years; we will create a fully functioning quantum computer within the next 10 years. All the transitions you mention I also believe that eventually will happen.

    One of my questions would be the costs. Not in money, but in the amount of hardships, suffering, lives, resources, and freedom. Adapting to that brave new world will be a hard thing. The pace is another interesting question. The more incremental the change could be the transition would be more peaceful. The more urgent and instant the change could be the transition would be more drastic.

    The other important question is that how could we prepare and especially how could we prepare our kids to make them able to adapt easier. Being technologically up to date and tech-savvy in general is good bet in my opinion. Even if computers will program themselves as indeedably said, someone has to write those scripts which will write the rest. At least until that superintelligent AI will be born because I cannot even imagine how will the world look like after a couple of hours…

    1. That sounds like a more accurate prediction. Although I’m optimistic for a super-AI that might front-load everything within the next 25 years, with a true super-AI, we should have the technology to become multi-planetary pretty quickly.

      I think incremental change is going to go out of the window, we’re definitely on an exponential curve. There will be suffering for sure, but there will also be a lot of excitement.

      Maybe the greatest gift for our children will be to pass down generational wealth and teach them FIRE principles so they don’t squander it? They’ll then be able to live a life of following what they want to achieve instead of worrying about being out of a job. Of course, this might be a bit difficult if you have more than a couple of kids 🙂

  3. I love your world although I must say this feels farther away than 10 years. We just do not as a species have our priorities aligned yet with your big changes. They will come but at a slower pace IMO.

  4. Well this has made me paranoid and want to sell my London flat asap! As others have said, I’m not sure all this will happen by 2030 but it’s probably the way the world is heading. The problem with my generation (the much-maligned millennials) is that we’re probably ill-prepared for the inevitable focus on tech that will consume the jobs market.

    I even notice the difference between my friends my age (early 30s) where only one works in tech, and some friends I have that are about 5 years younger where quite a few are in tech/engineering. Maybe something to do with whether you chose your university course before or after the recession….

    I’m hoping to get my TE response written up and posted tonight or tomorrow.

    1. Yeah, I’d definitely not want to be in the London property market long term. I just don’t see the value with what your money is buying, it’s almost like Bitcoin! I’m hoping to FI and bailout to a lower cost of housing area asap. Maybe I’ll be wrong 😛

      Thanks for your awesome response!

  5. Nice thought experiment, SN!

    I love your futuristic predictions, just not sure they will happen in the next 10 years but certainly progress in all will be made.

    I think there will be a time of unrest or revolt for the people caught in the middle, unable or unwilling to adapt job-wise. This bleak period may last a long time but like other periods of change before, eg industrial revolution etc, people will end up adapting and changing because they have to.

  6. Great predictions and I’ve read plausible technology articles that back them all up…. Apart from the London to Hong Kong in 34 minutes one. Have you got a source for where you got that from? Be very interested to know how that could work!

    Have you read Peter Diamandis blog or listened to the podcast? It’s full of stuff like this. Really great read.

    It’s funny how most people think your predictions too early, I’m not sure they understand how exponential progress is really hitting the vertical curve right now.

    The future is faster than you think, as Diamandis says!

    Shame I didn’t get involved in this one but it wouldn’t have really been any different from what you’ve written. I’m hoping we can avoid mass revolt by sharing the spoils from the massive gains from AI and other tech, plus the fact that most things we want to buy will become so cheap due to 3d printing. So people won’t need too much money anyway to live with a good standard of living.

    I read in a book called post capitalism that the marginal cost of producing even complex items will drop to near zero, much like a digital copy of a song, because to 3d print something is just like copying a digital design file into the real world (if that makes sense). Assuming the material it’s made from is cheap and abundant the manufacturing cost is practically now zero. Vertical farming and other methods could make growing food even cheaper. And so on.
    Combine that with some kind of UBI and it should appease the masses!

    1. Hey TFS! That’s with the Starship earth to earth – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqE-ultsWt0

      I haven’t read his blog, I will do now though 😮 Yeah, you can see just from this past 5 years that the curve is starting to go up drastically already, these next couple of years are going to be monumental with what Elon is doing alone. That’s an awesome insight about 3D printing and everything becoming cheaper, I’ll definitely have to give this guy a read/listen!

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