What will the future hold for us? Even for those of us who try to live for today this question does come up in our minds from time to time. If you have children or facing a change in circumstances that raises issues of making a living then this question may be on your mind more often. How we live our lives or want to live is a constant issue. Humans tend to be unsatisfied most of the time. Improving our lot is a hardwired trait after all.
In previous articles I have written about the need for artistic thinking to face the demands of modern life. This is not limited to work in a studio, but in the wider society too. In Seth Godin's book, The Icarus Deception, the author argues that we need to free ourselves from industrial thinking to realise our potential.
Artists are problem solvers always seeking a solution. From freedom of thought comes lateral thinking and eventually answers and direction. We do not wear blinkers, but we can focus when needed to complete the work. So how will this help us in the future?
In the brilliant TED talk by economist Andrew McAfee we hear about his vision of future employment. McAfee takes present developments in robotics and other forms of automation and shows us that the near future will be filled with automation on all levels. There will be a tremendous impact on specialised labour. Much more of the labour market will be taken over by automation. Of course we are aware of assembly lines, but we are talking about even more skilled labour making way for robots and other sophisticated machines. As he says any repetitive work or drudgery will be taken over by a machine.
What this means to trades and labour especially may appear to be a catastrophe for job security. Alternatively there will be a new opportunity for creative thinking and investment in your own greatest asset - YOU. No more trading your time for a wage and leaving your true self on hold for the weekend. To remain in the game we all need to give expression to our inner creative thinking and act on this. To make a future for ourselves and out children we need to take responsibility for our education and not simply hand it over to a government institution that is overburdened. We need to be flexible and act quicker, look ahead and work on our overall abilities.
Yes we will still need a surgeon to know about heart transplants, but his assistant may be a robot. A lawyer will need to know about a contract, but will it be typed by a machine? These trained people will however need to know about technology, marketing and the needs of society too. For the vast majority of people a multiple level strategy will be required to meet the opportunities that face us.
It starts with each of us looking at ourselves and asking what it is we honestly love to do. Then taking this further to see how we can contribute to the world doing what we were truly meant to do. It is a challenge, but one that is truly democratic. We can all take part.
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa