The future face of work, life and AI


by Alex White

Senior Partner, Talent & Research 7th Jan 2017

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Alex White is the founding partner at Avellio. He is an industry experienced former analyst, and has led over 120 retained search assignments for data science leaders, with mandates entrusted by leading global investment banks, major retailers and analytics consultancies.

These days, with the impressive pace of advancement in AI and broad technology, you might have asked yourself - ‘What is happening to the world?’, everything is changing. The accepted convention that a human is some sort of consistent and evolutionary natural concept is really likely to change beyond recognition. 

Given the exponential rate of growth in technology and how we learn to interact and depend upon technology in our daily lives, it is not beyond the realms of our imagination to predict that in the not too distant future our bodies are going to evolve be so high tech that it will be very difficult for us to make a distinction between the natural world and the artificial. 

When you consider our existing organic technology, our brains, the idea that inside our own head exists the most complex arrangement of matter in the universe. It begs the question, can we combine human intelligence with Artificial Intelligence?

We are now in a new epoch, one that combines physical, biological and digital systems. This will lead to change in ways that we have never before experienced. With the ability to visualise brain activity, for example, through a simple consumer-based EEG device, it gives us access to ourselves that we have never before thought possible, it unlocks the back box that is the brain, and enables us to really and truly be able to realise an identity that is aspirational. 

There is now a scientific foundation for the effects of mindfulness on the brain, on the genome, on biological ageing, and when the human mind does know itself, then you get the potential for a new renaissance that restructures itself in terms of our relationship to life, our relationship to the planet, and our relationship to work.

Off the back of this change we are going to need a different economic model, one that goes way beyond a binary concept, such as capitalism versus communism, the advent of technology will bring about major architectural changes to our economic system, one that shifts towards meeting the basic needs of every single human being. A fairer system, one that is polarised on human well-being. 

History tells us that a value shift is set in motion by the creation of a new story about how we want to live our lives. If we go back through epochs in the past, where early technology had visibly changed peoples lives, the instinctive desire to progress will soon become heavily augmented by advanced forms of technology and matter, such as 3D printing, which will encourage an economic model that is circular, one that feeds materials back in to the economy, separating growth and evolution from the physical, practical and economic constraints that we currently experience 

But, what technology gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. The prediction of 5 million jobs lost by 2020 to technology is of very grave concern. Life will ‘go on’, with construction, services, and manufacturing still in existence, but the main question will be ‘how will we define our job roles and share the wealth?’.  To support the evolving nature of work and jobs we will need new, adapted forms of education and training.  We will need to harness digital technology to transform outcomes and to truly empower people, all over the planet, which can result in the creation of more balanced and equitable growth that the world needs. 

We need to take responsibility at every level of society, from the individual and the personal, to the institutional and the global, to adapt to these technological challenges and changes, that are redefining what it is to be human, what it means to work, what it means to be completely  embedded in this world, living almost singular lives with technology.

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By Alex White
Alex White