June 27, 2017

Fourth Industrial Revolution: Calling For A 'Growth Mindset' Over A 'Task Mindset'

Posted by Carly Cooper (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:20 AM

Make to learn: Building your first robot [Source:]

The World Economic Forum predicts five million jobs will be automated by 2020 (The Future of Jobs, Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 2016). Furthermore, research by Frey and Osborne (2013) predicts, 47 percent of the total jobs in the US are in the high-risk category and could be automated or computerized within the next 20 years. Some of the facts, figures, predictions, as well as Hollywood productions (Westworld, Transcendence, Interstellar), have many of us fearful of the impact of artificial intelligence on the future. However, never underestimate the power of human potential.

The debate about technology impacting work is one that goes back hundreds of years. In 1776, Adam Smith wrote 'The Wealth of Nations' in which he described the division of labor - a separation of different tasks for different people in order to improve efficiency (1776). During the (first) Industrial Revolution (1760-1820), jobs were being 'automated'. Productivity increased with the invention of the steam engine and by allocating specialized tasks to workers. Now, one can only imagine the fear in the 1800s of "what will happen to me with this new technical advancement?" But indeed, society survived and even thrived. In the Second Industrial Revolution (1870-1914), the railroad, telegraph and machine tools were invented. In 1930, John Maynard Keynes noted, "The increase of technical efficiency has been taking place faster than we can deal with the problem of labor absorption" (Keynes, 1933). Keynes predicted "widespread technological unemployment due to our discovery of means of economizing the use of labor outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labor".

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