Final Reflection – Looking Towards the Future

Whenever I tell my friends I have class on Thursday nights from 7-9:30pm they always say “why would you ever do that? That is terrible.” Truth is that it isn’t terrible – rather it has been my most engaging class this semester and has fostered a conversation that is seemingly more relevant than any of my other courses. I feel as through most of my classes are backwards looking, studying what has already happened and use those insights to model for the future. I love how this class embraces the unpredictability of the world through the incorporation and creation of new technology. Sometimes the conversations left me feeling lost and powerless against the dominating force of technology – but mostly it left me curious and wondering what the world will look like 10 years, 20 years, or 50 years from now. I am fairly comfortable with the fact that my life is going to look very different than my parents and I think it is exciting to wonder which technologies will completely reshape our behaviors and lives. One area of discussion I found to be incredibly interesting (and relevant as I start to think about my future career and entering the job market) was the influence of technology and social media on work. I am going to recap parts of our discussion and raise my thoughts and questions I have reflected on.

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1. Jobs Created by Social Media and Future Job Shifts Because of Technology 

Earlier in the semester we heard from a member of Boston College’s Social Media Team. She discussed the evolution of her role, and ultimately the creation of a social media management position at BC – a job that did not exist a decade ago. She admitted how her role continues to evolve as new platforms emerge and she tries to create an authentic voice that fits for each site. This is just one person’s job with Social Media – however when you consider that all the corporations, schools, organizations, etc. have social media sites that need to be managed, the larger scale effects are more apparent. 

Technology will inevitably continue to eliminate more and more jobs first through automation and then artificial intelligence. But on the flip side, new technologies will also demand new expertise, thus creating different jobs. Whether its product maintenance or technology development – some jobs will remain and certain tasks may require more human capital. However, since the amount of jobs created will still be less than those eliminated, this leads me to my next area of concern – class divisions. Recall the Ted talk  by Andrew McAffe discussing the Teds and Bills of the world. What happens to all the Bills of the world if their jobs are eliminated? How can society manage for this negative impact? 

Beyond just eliminating and creating jobs, technology has completely transformed how jobs are done which has in turn influenced the lives of people. From telecommuting to an Uber driver picking his own hours to work – there seems to be a new flexibility in the workplace as long as you have your computer and access to the internet. This leads me to believe that more and more people will opt for a less traditional workplace over time.

2. A Future Without Work

Obviously a society that requires no work is many many years away – however, the thought of this possibility is thought provoking and entertaining at the very least. With the reliance of technology allowing people to not work (or even work significantly less), people will have all their time to pursue whatever they please. Yet getting to that point in societal development will not be easy – imagine the government trying to decide on universal minimum income and determining who owns the capital that allows for a work free society.  

Assuming a universal basic income, I am curious to know how this would shape education systems. How would people’s values change? Would they be willing to spend money on education even if it means no greater monetary return in the future? I imagine (even though imagining a world without work is still such a foreign concept to me) people would simply study what interested them, not what they think would be the best route for career prospects. I liked how in “A World Without Work,” Derek Thompson explored the possibilities of what citizens would do with all their time – and how some might even be drawn back to work as a way to keep busy and engaged with their lives.    

lightbulbMost of these questions will be answered with time. The challenge is figuring out the negative and positive effects on society at large and being proactive rather than reactive. Many of our videos and readings this semester showcased the capabilities of current technology and the possibilities of it in the future. However, its import to remember the greater implications of new developments and think about how it can work for society, rather than against it. 

Thank you all for a great semester! I have really enjoyed learning so much about social media and digital tools through all the class presentations and discussions! 

7 comments

  1. Very interesting! I liked reading your piece on the influence of technology and social media on work. You summarized it well. I’ve been an engineer, an executive, an entrepreneur, a first-line manager, and I’ve done these in the fields of R&D, aircraft engines, power generation, machine tool, residential mortgage, and healthcare. And … I’m not finished evolving. We are at an advantage by taking a class that widens our perspectives, preparing us to be surprised. The message I received from this class on work: be resilient, be adaptable, keep learning, look up for what is coming ….

  2. francoismba · ·

    I loved your insights and questions regarding social media and technology in the work place! Great job linking various topics that we covered throughout the semester. Your thoughts on how technology will impact education systems was especially interesting. I couldn’t imagine living in a world that requires no work and individuals aren’t motivated to receive an education. We will all need to keep an open mind and continue to be adaptable to these changes.

  3. Nice post. I too often feel powerless against the wave of technology as it keeps changing. Good insights.

  4. Very thoughtful post! I think you made a great point that this class was more applicable and forward looking than most classes. It’s scary to think about how much uncertainty exists in the world of technology. Even through out this short semester, so many things have changed in the way we utilize social media and the adoption of some major technological developments such as Tesla’s self-driving car, Snapchat’s Specs, etc. Glad to hear you also a had a meaningful experience in this class!

  5. kdphilippi18 · ·

    Great final reflections! I really enjoyed your blog because you discussed a topic I felt was one of the most intriguing we discussed this semester. I had similar feelings during most of our classes – at times feeling powerless, but then also curious as to what was to come. I especially had this feeling after our discussion about how work will drastically change in the future. I am seriously concerned about where all of the Bills will find work, but I hope that our current leaders and CEOs will make the right decisions for society and make jobs available for those who are not as highly skilled as others. It will be interesting to see how things pan out – what’s crazy is that this future we are talking about is closer than we think. I believe we have already started to see this play out and we will continue to see a larger impact in the next five to ten years – just when we are in the middle of our careers! Nice post!

  6. Very cool post! I especially enjoyed the piece of the blog where you talk about a future without work. Technology has the power to free us from many of the menial things that we have to do in our daily lives. It could unlock things that we had no idea could be unlocked and has so much potential for society. If this happens people would have the ability to enjoy their free time, and have much more of it. Many people in today’s age are consumed by their job and their work, and technology has the power to free them from this.

  7. I also wonder how the decrease in employment opportunities will effect the way wealth is distributed and who will be in charge. With all the financial firms making a higher percentage of their investments algorithm-based, all one really needs to do is have a substantial amount of capital to invest and collect interest off of before the job market is completely dominated by machines and they’ll be set for a long time. I agree that this will most likely result in more people choosing career paths based on passion and interest and less on salary. I also think this will probably result in a higher percentage of Americans becoming employed part-time. Who knows? Maybe we could learn a thing or two from the Europeans and we might actually enjoy ourselves if we have a little more time off.

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