Artificial Intelligence (AI). Machine Learning (ML). IoT. Automation. Big Data. Neural Networks. Deep Learning.
Oh I almost forgot, the coolest kid on the block; Blockchain.
When I graduated in 2015, my dad gave me 100 bucks and said: go learn the basics, set some goals, take risks you can afford, learn patience, choose wisely and never be greedy; he might’ve known a thing or two about investing. He gave my first 100 dollars that I put in Netflix shares (because I used to have a sick obsession with the idea of Netflix), and when I made profit, I invested in more tech companies, banks, and finally Cryptocurrencies. The more I made, the more I researched and the more I invested. While doing research, I learned the ABC’s of investing, I learned about the stock market, about dividends, how/when to open a brokerage account, I learned how to invest, where to invest, the best time to invest and so on. Most importantly I learned the power of investment, not in the stock market or in crypto, but in one’s self.
I quickly realized my self-investment is paying off far more than my crypto or Netflix shares ever can.
I looked around and saw how fast we are advancing, perhaps faster than we’re learning. We read the news and we find scary headlines about AI taking over, AI automating everything and perhaps stripping us off our jobs. I saw that all we talk about nowadays is blockchain technology and our friends who quit their jobs because they got crypto rich. We talk about automation and a robot apocalypse. We talk about self-driving cars and Uber Elevate (air rides). We talk about how many likes we can get on Instagram and what filter to use (guilty as charged), and we talk about what episode we saw on Black Mirror or Westworld (also guilty as charged). We are full of uncertainties of the future because we feel threatened by the impact automation will have on our lives. We fear the machines and fear that they will replace us! Just like in the past, when robots replaced 85 percent of manufacturing jobs. But we often oversee things like automation making our lives easier, automation making us more productive, or what automation will be like in the Workplace of 2025 .
So why am I writing this? I am a project manager in the machine learning space at Samasource, where we use Impact Sourcing as a business model to mitigate poverty by giving marginalized individuals education & then jobs in the machine learning space (tasks like tagging images, collecting data, captioning video, transcribing, imposing 3D images on a 2D space, and other things that can be done through the Internet). Being here, means I work with beautiful-hearted individuals and contribute to a successful business model that creates a real social impact (#givework). I love where I work, and where I work, I find love. It’s a happy place to be and everyone is focused on creating opportunities for those who didn’t win the birth-lottery. The impact Samasource creates is not just measurable, it’s invaluable. Being here means I encounter many different ML projects, all with the same objective; feed machines as many 0s and 1s as possible, so they can do work for us in the future. No more driving our own cars, they will drive us. No more having to pay so much to go golfing because VR is going to bring it to your house for so much cheaper or maybe even at no cost. New medical technologies using AI for better diagnostics, and reduced cost of genomic sequencing will revolutionize the healthcare system. Everything is changing; no doubt. With all the changes, our quality of life will change, our sense of purpose will shift, and our perception of the surroundings will adjust. I can’t help but think about the question a lot of my friends and family are already asking: ‘If you’re working with a goal to create jobs by automating future ones, then aren’t you simultaneously cutting future jobs?’ I hear you. But the answer isn’t linear because the relationship between employment and automation isn’t a linear relationship either.
A lot of economists/influencers/smarticles of this universe have something to say about AI and the future of employment; they all disagree… Why? Because no one really knows. Elon Musk called out Mark Zuckerburg on twitter saying Mark’s knowledge of AI is “limited”.
Nonetheless, they all agree that technology WILL change the nature of work that humans do now. From there you can tease out the real question/problem: Will we actually have the necessary skills to perform the jobs that will be created when others are automated/eliminated? So, the problem isn’t that we will be out of jobs, it’s the lack of people with the right knowledge and skills to fit those jobs. See, it isn’t about automation stealing your job, it’s about staying ahead of the curve. It’s not about investing enough in crypto; it’s about investing enough time in ourselves to keep up with the velocity of technology. Turns out, no one really knows the impact AI will have on our future, but our world is headed towards building a currency of not money, but knowledge. At our jobs, we’re taught to work hard to advance and make our way up the ladder, but not anymore; learning hard is the knowledge economy equivalent. According to a report from Dell, some 85% of jobs that have not been created yet will exist in 2030. This means that we’re in a place where learning is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
And I am not talking about the ephemeral, short-lived, pick up a book and forget about it tomorrow kind of investment. I am talking a lifetime worth of learning mentality. It’s everything self-development kind of mentality. The kind that gives you a ‘high’. It’s the kind that will propel you to new heights and present you with new opportunities. It’s the realization that knowledge acquiring doesn’t stop when we graduate college.
I am not going to sit here and convince you the importance of learning (because if I have to even convince you to begin with, then there is no point) but I want to highlight a few things that have personally changed my outlook on life:
- Learning helps you stay relevant. In a world where technology is growing at almost 299,792km/s (not a real estimate), it means our skills need to also match that speed of light. This means we need to constantly upgrade ourselves; stay relevant, refresh and enhance our skills, learn new skills, stay abreast of new developments. Being prepared for the rainy day when you get a chance to showcase your best. And it doesn’t stop here, the more you learn, the more you’ll want to learn. Our brains work better, think bigger and beyond our circumstances.
- Learning helps us give back. With more knowledge, we’re able to give back. We all want to be heroes; wear our capes every day, I know I do. But sometimes we can’t because we don’t have much to offer, or because we simply don’t know how. Personally, I have grown and continue to grow because of those around me; the ones who wear capes every day and help when they have an extra minute to give. They all have played a role in my development and where I am today. Naturally, I want to give back, I want to help anyone who needs it, just like I was helped. When we have knowledge, we’re able to wear our own capes and give back. We get to be the heroes we want to be.
- Learning fulfills you. More often than not, the learning process can be frustrating. Imagine taking on a new sport like CrossFit, or learning code; nothing is more fulfilling than reaching those goals. I chose CrossFit as a sport not because I love it (it actually terrifies me), but because it was the hardest thing for me and every time I set a personal record and surmount a challenge, a dopamine rush comes right in. The bigger the challenge, the more dopamine I got. Of course, I then learned to love it. Some studies have shown that the more ambitious goals that we set, the happier we are. And when we decide our own goals, our happiness is not reliant on others. Personal development is a way to guarantee us serenity from within.
My point is, just as much as we want to make money and invest in real estate, the stock market, or in crypto, we often forget that we need to self-invest as it pays the best interest. AI taking over is not a threat if we incorporate learning into our lifestyle. The best investment you’ll ever make is the commitment to a continuing, personal education that will last your entire lifetime. It’s a personal commitment that only you can make.You have to be the person that holds yourself most accountable. We have to address our skills and keep on improving them, rather than worrying about a robot apocalypse. Economists/smarticles of this world still can’t account for the boundless ways technology may unsettle work in the future. Personally, I like where technology is taking us.
And Remember, humans made AI. If you put things into perspective, you can see that disruptive technology is less of a threat and more of an opportunity. An opportunity to make learning an infinite loop with no age limits. Learn, learn, and learn and don’t quit learning, no matter who you are, how old you and where you are. Be a goal digger! Curiosity is your best friend.
“In God we trust. All others must bring data.” – very smart guy