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.
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.
Most 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!