“The future depends on what you do today”

– Mahatma GhandiProblem #1: The Robots Are Coming

Problem #1: The Robots Are Coming

The future is full of uncertainty.

Recent and well documented advances in Machine Learning and Deep Neural Networks have raised fears in many that the world is moving exponentially faster to the so-called ‘Singularity’.

This is what futurist Ray Kerzweil describes as “The runaway technological growth that will trigger an Artificial Intelligence explosion and result in unfathomable changes to human civilization.”

Some experts warn that AI could make humans obsolete or even eliminate the human race.

Such is the scale of this fear that Silicon Valley titans such as Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Sam Altman have come together to create the OpenAI initiative in an effort to steer humanity away from disaster.

Most experts believe this Singularity event to be several decades away however.

Back in the present we are already living in an era where Specialized AI is everywhere — in our phones, our music players, our cars and even accounting for the majority of trading on the world’s stock exchanges.

Credit: TechCrunch

Automation in the near future will increasingly disrupt existing industries and displace millions of jobs. According to the Economist special report on lifelong learning:

  • Michael Osborne, of Oxford University famously calculated in 2013 that 47% of existing jobs in America are susceptible to automation.
  • According to research by MIT, between 2007 and 2015 job openings for unskilled routine work suffered a 55% decline relative to other jobs
  • James Bessen, an economist at Boston University, finds that since 1980 employment has been growing faster in occupations that use computers than in those that do not.
  • That is because automation can actually increase demand by reducing costs and tends to affect tasks within an occupation rather than wiping out jobs in their entirety.
  • In America, 49% of postings in the quartile of occupations with the highest pay are for jobs that frequently ask for coding skills

Problem #2: Always Busy. Too Many Choices

Attention is the new currency.

Distraction is at it’s peak at work and in our personal lives.

Time pressures are increasing at a dizzying rate.

We are spoiled for choice these days with access to information with instant news and always-on entertainment coming from every device and in every direction.

Astonishingly, the average person will spend nearly two hours on social media every day, with one study showing that teens now spend up to nine hours a day on social platforms.

This is more than the total time spent eating, drinking, socializing, and grooming combined.

But for most people all of this does not necessarily make them happier or more productive with reports like this one from the Guardian showing that it can in fact have the opposite effect.

So although this explosion in technology has been in ways an incredibly powerful tool for humanity, the majority of us are perhaps not leveraging it at it’s full potential.

What can we do to protect ourselves ?

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

– Nelson Mandela

Given the above two trends how can we best insulate ourselves?

The answer seems obvious. To remain competitive, we need career-focused education throughout people’s working lives.

  • The literature suggests that each additional year of schooling is associated with an 8–13% rise in hourly earnings.
  • In the period since the financial crisis, in the US, the unemployment rate steadily drops as you go up the educational ladder.
  • Many believe that technological change only strengthens the case for more education.
  • However, a college degree at the start of a working career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills, especially as career spans are lengthening.
  • Universities are embracing online and modular learning more vigorously.
  • According to the Pew survey, 54% of all working Americans think it will be essential to develop new skills throughout their working lives;

“Learning Animals”

Humans have always needed the ability to pickup new skills and adapt in a changing environment.

Indeed, it is this superior executive functioning of the cerebral cortex that defines us and gives us our competitive advantage over all other creatures.

However, the rate our environment is changing is at a much faster pace than at any previous time in the history of our species.

A skill that increasingly matters in finding and keeping a job is the ability to keep learning.

Companies today are embracing learning as a core skill and focusing on “foundational skills” like creativity, problem-solving and empathy and have begun to put increased emphasis on “learning velocity”

  • Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google has talked of their recruitment focus on “learning animals”.
  • During his time as the head of hiring at Google, Laszlo Bock stated:⁠ “For every job, though, the #1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability
  • Satya Nadella — The boss of Microsoft draws on Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, whose work on the Growth Mindset in learning is key to pushing the firm’s culture in a new direction.

Future-Proof Your Career

So it seems we need to continue to learn faster and for longer in our careers in order to make ourselves “anti-fragile” in the jobs market and thereby increase our chances of success in a dynamic modern world.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

-Charles Darwin

The good news is that it’s easier and faster than ever to become competent in a new skill.

There is an abundance of free or affordable content from the world’s top experts in every subject.

There are now hundreds of thousands of online courses and online videos.

We can now leverage the power of the internet to gain insights into the core strategies, mindsets and techniques for the fastest acquisition of new skills garnered from decades of research in disparate fields such as educational neuroscience, cognitive psychology and learning theory.

The Bottom Line: Accelerated Learning

What if instead of spending 2 hours a day scrolling through your social news feed for entertainment, you had spent that time becoming better in some dimension ?

What if instead you had become closer to your goals at the end of the day?

If you were to improve your passion, your skill, your network, your opportunities just 1% each day….that compounds into 3700% or 38 times better in just a year.

You’d start the year off as “Clark Kent” and by improving 1% a day then by the end of the year you will be “Superman”. You will leave your dead planet and arrive at a new one. A baby. With heat vision.

James Altucher

I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching the latest findings in education technology, cognitive psychology and the neuroscience of learning to discover the keys to what works and what doesn’t and I’ll be sharing all of these learning strategies in my future blogs.

I will be exploring in-depth such topics as neuroplasticity, motivation, fluid intelligence, working memory, cognitive biases, mental models, growth mindsets and the pivotal roles they play in learning along with the best up-to-date tools and data analytics available for you to use now.

In the meantime why not head over to www.optimizme.com and sign up for early access to the platform we’re building to harness the power of all of these accelerated learning strategies…

I’m really excited for you to join us as we embark on this journey to build and validate the first part of our platform — the the world’s best online course aggregator and discovery portal.

The OptmizMe Platform

Originally published at medium.com