I have other concerns. In the future, I think we’ll see more meetings move online. That will have an impact on the hospitality industry (no room nights, no F&B, and no travel) and, perhaps, reduce the number of event production staff.
Anyway, I hope this prediction’s right. We’ll see!
Job obsolescence caused by increasing computer automation
Every adoption of new technology has led to a shift in the world of work. Books and the industrial age fundamentally remade human society. Now the exponentially increasing power of computing is making rapid inroads into professions that have been the safe purview of well-paid workers for centuries.
It’s likely, for example, that in my children’s lifetime (and perhaps mine) we’ll transition to a world where most vehicles drive themselves. In the United States alone, there are currently 3.5 million professional truck drivers who stand to lose their livelihood. Other threatened professions, according to Martin Ford in his book Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, include warehouse workers, cooks, lawyers, doctors, teachers, and programmers.
Software and machines will clearly take over some work, which large numbers of humans will never perform again. But recent history also suggests that adding technology to the workplace is likely to transform, rather than eliminate, many jobs. In addition, new jobs will appear that offer alternative work opportunities.
How do we prepare workers for these changes?
“The evidence suggests that while computers are not causing net job losses now, low wage occupations are losing jobs, likely contributing to economic inequality. These workers need new skills in order to transition to new, well-paying jobs. Developing a workforce with the skills to use new technologies is the real challenge posed by computer automation.” — James Bessen, Why automation doesn’t mean a robot is going to take your job
Peer conferences, therefore, are what we need to prepare workers for the continuing and accelerating transformation of the work marketplace. As Niels Pflaeging recently put it (paraphrased by Harold Marche):
“´Machines can solve complicated problems. They cannot solve complex, surprising problems’. Valued work is no longer standardized. Therefore a standardized approach for education and training to support creative work is obsolete.”
I’ll repeat that: “…a standardized approach for education and training to support creative work is obsolete.” That means traditional conferences are obsolete. Say goodbye to traditional conferences — and say hello to peer learning!