Guest Post by Malcolm Peart (first posted on CERM ® RISK INSIGHTS – reposted here with permission)
While there is oftentimes a “generational war” between the young and the old in the workplace, where the divide is created by the younger generation’s familiarity with technology and the older generation’s aversion to it, the multigenerational concern that plagues all age groups is that technology will outpace humans, leaving many unemployed.
It is an understandable fear, especially if you consider my Hard Trend Methodology. Hard Trends are future certainties that will happen, and digital disruption, which includes and is certainly not limited to artificial intelligence (A.I.), are without question Hard Trends. In the eighties, I identified the Three Digital Accelerators: processing power/computing power, bandwidth, and storage, which are three improvements to the digital spectrum that will increase the frequency and efficacy of digital disruptions.
So if the Three Digital Accelerators validate the future certainty of Hard Trends even more, this is precisely why I say it is an understandable fear for many to have. Artificially intelligent computers and their ability to perform tasks humans traditionally do will inevitably happen. However, there is great news: humans will always be needed, just in new ways! That’s right, human potential is also a Hard Trend in itself.
Before I get into that, let’s delve a little deeper into Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain to better understand the computer’s place in the human world.
The Cognitive Domain
Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain is a hierarchy of how the cognitive processes of a human being operate.
Think of this graphically as a pyramid. On the bottom, you have remembering, which involves recall and listing information. Next comes understanding, where comprehension and discussion take place. Third is the act of applying the knowledge from understanding, fourth is the ability to analyze patterns, fifth has us evaluating those patterns to draw conclusions, and at the very top of this pyramid is creating. Creating is the ability to use old concepts to create new ideas.
Looking at these concepts like a pyramid allows us to better understand the following: the higher you go on the pyramid, the more “human” these pieces to the cognitive domain become in our age of digital disruption. To put that in simpler terms, the very bottom of the pyramid being “remembering” is very easily accomplished by a computer. Think of how simple it is to save passwords on websites you visit frequently or save your preferences in Apps you use.
The reason several fear technological disruption and do their best to rationalize it away or avoid it completely rather than becoming anticipatory and leveraging those changes to their advantage is because the bottom half of the pyramid are elements to the cognitive domain rooted in science and math; subjects and competencies that are at the forefront of career paths younger generations are guided toward.
The fact that a computer can accomplish the math and science element of our world better and better every year is troublesome for many; what happens when we do not need a science major, just as easily as we suddenly did not need to do longhand division with the emergence and acceptance of calculators and their subsequent integration onto your smartphone?
The Art Side Of Science
The answer to this lies in the top half of the pyramid, or what I refer to as the “soft skills.” These include evaluating, analyzing, and most importantly, creating and creativity.
In case you are wondering, I’m talking about art. Yes, you read that right; the art in science and math.
I guarantee you that many balk at that concept; how could art possibly be as important as science, math, and derivatives of those two subjects in school, such as computer science or programming?
If we are focusing on Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain coupled with my Anticipatory mindset, it is extremely important! As machines get better at the science and math of industries, what’s left for the human being? The creative, critical thinking side, which is learned through tactile, digital, and industrial arts. To make this concept competitive for a moment, art is how the human race competes against and beats A.I., to be so bold.
Remember, many applications of math and science alone in many jobs are not necessarily impossible tasks, as one can imagine when focusing on the “understanding” part of the cognitive domain; translating data into something for us to understand. That is quite literally what is happening as you read this article: data on the back end of the Internet is displaying this readable item on your screen by a computer. A human being isn’t sitting behind a desk translating all that data by hand for everyone that reads this.
A.I. may be able to figure out the math and science of plumbing, but A.I. is not a plumber. The critical thinking to solve a plumbing problem comes from understanding science, but applying the art of plumbing as well, which highlights quality. A more extreme example to consider is a heart surgeon. A machine may facilitate a less dangerous medical procedure as such; however, do you want a heart surgeon that merely knows how the machine works, or one that knows every last little idiosyncratic thing that could happen to you on the operating table, and knows when to jump in and take meticulous care of you?
I personally prefer the hands-on doctor.
Teaching The Correct Competencies
Unfortunately, something I see far too frequently is that the education system is training young adults for future careers that, in accordance with my Anticipatory Organization Model, may not exist sooner than later.
Programming is a great example. We are training children to be programmers, but the reality is we will eventually have a computer that can program. We are not adequately preparing those children for what else they are capable of as cognitive, creative critical thinkers in the computer sciences. Many do not place a hint of emphasis on the art side of science, and this must change.
Let’s place math under the microscope for a moment. It is, without a doubt, one of the most important competencies to learn for life, not just a career. To teach math, an anticipatory way to do so is to automate the part of education that is no longer fit for humans, such as teaching multiplication and division. Using gamification, where learning becomes interactive and hands-on rather than passive and disengaging, a student can practice multiplication and division, and the teacher becomes a coach of sorts, training them on how those competencies apply creatively, such as balancing a budget.
What we want is a society that thinks outside of the box to solve problems, save lives, and improve humanity, and we do this by teaching augmented thinking and augmented physical behavior, which is augmenting your human abilities to work with the machines. We are not taking a backseat to technology, we are finding a new place in society that the machines cannot replicate, as they are not sentient beings.
Plan The Future With An Anticipatory Mindset
The way we plan for the digitally disruptive future in the years to come goes far beyond just prioritizing the soft skills and art side of science; just as much depends on anticipation and the competencies behind my Anticipatory Leader System.
In said system, you learn how to identify what is a Hard Trend, or a future certainty that will happen as mentioned earlier in this article, and what is a Soft Trend, a future maybe that is open to influence. Following something as profoundly disruptive as COVID-19, the fact that digital disruptions will increase even more is a definite Hard Trend that cannot be ignored. You can identify specific disruptive technologies both inside and outside of your industry, or the industry you are looking to enter as a student, and then work to understand what soft skills apply to those disruptive technologies. Where do you fit in with your augmented thinking and augmented abilities?
Doing so not only keeps you above A.I. and autonomous technology but gives you a new purpose in an often noisy world.
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the World’s Leading Futurists on Global Trends and Innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies helping them to develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. He is the author of six books, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal best seller Flash Foresight as well as the highly acclaimed Techno-trends.