Why creativity may be the only skill of value in a post-work world
Sourced through Scoop.it from: medium.com
Can you imagine a world in which most jobs are obsolete?
If not, you are most likely in for a rude awakening in the coming decades of radical shifts in employment. This is particularly true for new parents propelling the next generation of workers into an adulthood that many economists and futurists predict to be the first ever “post-work” society.
Though the idea of a jobless world may seem radical, the prediction is based on the natural trajectory of ‘creative destruction’ — that classic economic principle by which established industries are decimated when made irrelevant by new technologies.
When was the last time you picked up the hot new single from your local sheet music store? Many moons ago sheet music was the music industry, with the only available means of hearing pop songs being to have a musician read and perform them. This quickly eroded with the advent of the phonograph, leading to a record industry that dominated the last century and is now itself eroding due to the explosive growth of independent online publishing.
It’s hard to justify using a massive workforce of recording engineers, media manufacturers, distributors, and talent scouts to accomplish a task that a musician can now do by herself in an afternoon with just a laptop. The same goes for the millions of skilled labor and manufacturing jobs that will soon be crumpled by 3D printing technology, the thousands of retailers whose staff and storefronts can readily be supplanted by automated delivery systems, or the dwindling hospitality and transportation industries currently being pecked away by app-based sharing services like Airbnb and Uber.
Never heard of 3D printing, ridesharing, or “post-work” theory? That’s okay; you can just Google them. In fact, thanks to Google we may now add the very concept of knowledge itself to our growing list of no-longer-scarce resources. When anyone can access the world’s greatest library from their cellphone, even the long-revered skill of knowing things loses its marketability.
We shall leave the problem of theoretical unification to the physicists and instead briefly consider a philosophical unification of Relativity and quantum theory. Is this possible? Contemplating the subatomic realm seems like a Zen exercise. The nuclear reality embodies duality and multiplicity, such as is clear in the complicated structure of atoms and particles. It transgressed the narrow world of opposites. We have to realize that in spite of the different parts and components, the subatomic world is an undivided whole, where the boundary between the observer and the observed is blurred. Object and subject have become inseparable, spatial and temporal detachment is an illusion. When the American physicist J.R. Oppenheimer (1902-1967) describes the structure of probability clouds, he almost sounds like a Zen Master: “If we ask, whether the position of the electron remains the same, we have to say no. If we ask, whether the place of an electron changes with the course of time, we have to say no. If we ask, whether the electron is in a state of rest, we have to say no. If we ask, whether the electron is in motion, we have to say no.”