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This blog post was featured in the April issue of HR Strategy & Planning Excellence.
Before the “information age” of today’s contemporary society, we saw the birth of mass production with the Industrial Revolution of the late-19th and early-20th centuries. This advent in manufacturing brought with it Henry Ford’s creation of the assembly line: the first sign of what would eventually (and inevitably) evolve into the workforce of today — a blend of human workers and machine learning.
Over the past century since Ford’s invention, the global workforce has steadily grown to more broadly adopt aspects of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) in tandem with the factor of human capital, eventually creating what we today call the “information age” of the 21st-century. In today’s world, incorporating AI and machine learning with a human workforce is as commonplace as the smartphones we carry around in our pockets, but this also raises the question of what the global blended workforce of human employees and AI will look like in the years to come.
AI has been replacing humans for decades
AI has been replacing humans for decades by replacing human workers with machines and AI is nothing new. One interesting trend I have witnessed is the rise in the number of major global firms hiring increasing amounts of software engineers in order to program machines and AI to fulfill jobs once performed by human workers, with everything from complex financial formulas to infrastructure development being performed by a blended workforce. In fact, an estimated 400,000 jobs in U.S. factories replaced human workers with machines between 1990–2007. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, another estimated 40 million jobs in the U.S. were lost, with more than 40% of those jobs expected to never return and/or have the potential to be filled — to some capacity — by AI.
Just as every major economic shift in history has helped flesh out the “persona” of its time (e.g., the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s or the “information age” of the early 2000s), these economic pivots inadvertently create new social dynamics that influence the ways businesses and their teams operate. It is my firm belief that, over the coming years, we will steadily watch as the “information age” of today’s world and workforce evolves into the “automation age” for one simple reason: trends. In particular, trends regarding venture capital (VC) investments.
For example, Elon Musk founded Tesla in order to create a line of electric vehicles (EVs) that are more affordable and accessible to the general public. Despite entering an extremely saturated vehicle market in the U.S., Tesla has gone on to receive over $20 billion in VC investments since its founding in early 2003. Tesla is also a prime example of a company that has focused on hiring a greater amount of software engineers and developers in order to continue improving upon the software used in their EV fleets.
While EVs are not yet as commonplace as traditional gas-powered vehicles, the example of Tesla in this case also raises an additional question regarding the evolution of the role of car mechanics: by the time EVs are commonplace, or even outnumber traditional gas-powered vehicles, how effective will a mechanic be if they are not up-to-date on how to best service an EV if they do not evolve their skill set?
Humans must adapt to automation
Humans must adapt to automation to make a connection between this example and the realm of finance, think of derivative options in asset trading. In this case, the mechanic’s career (or even the future of a major vehicle manufacturer such as Ford) is the derivative option, and the mechanic’s skill set (or the vehicle manufacturer’s ability to adapt to new trends) is their asset.
If the mechanic does not evolve their skill set, their options (i.e., career) will begin to expire. This means that the mechanic will have to remain up-to-date on trends regarding EV service and maintenance and adopt accordingly. For a major vehicle manufacturer, this means that they will not only have to remain updated on EV trends, but also formulate their business strategy to include hiring additional software engineers in order to create their own proprietary software for their future EV fleets.
The example of Tesla and EVs is only one of potentially hundreds or more, but the point is this: as more companies and global firms adopt more aspects of automation in their workforce, the workforce itself simultaneously has to adapt in order to remain relevant alongside increased automation. The best way that today’s blended workforce can do this is to stay as updated as possible on the trends of VC investments made over the next 3-5 years, make note of how much VC is being funneled into which industries and companies, and why.
Human beings are naturally resistant to change, but along with death and taxes, change is one of the only certainties everyone will face throughout their life for better or worse. But in the case of this article, fighting against that change — especially as a company or business — will likely make your career irrelevant in the long run.
We were featured on Influencive for this blog post
1.The Gig Economy Is Here to Stay
We’re going to see a continuation of consultants and fewer full-time employees. A trend I’ve been advocating for more than 10 years is an increase in remote workers. The workforce won’t be 100%, but I predict that people will only go to the office once or twice a week. We’ll see more migrations from high-cost centers to low-cost centers in cities like New York and San Francisco, where most of the real estate has dropped 30%.
2. Interest Rates Will Remain Low for the Next Decade
Technically speaking, inflation doesn’t exist in regards to some measurements. Due to the introduction of Amazon, many people are purchasing goods and services online, rather than in person. This allows inflation to go down on top of the global economy where many goods are produced outside of America. On top of that, millennials aren’t having children at the same rate as the Boomer generation. The overall impact will be similar to Japan in the time period from 1991–2001—the lost decade, where Japan had perpetual negative interest rates, which was partially because of population levels. We’re basically printing trillions of dollars right now, which is making the stock market go up, even though unemployment is so high. One can obtain a 2.5% loan for 30 years. It’s like getting money for free. The difficulty is getting approved. 3. In the Next Five Years, 50% of All Vehicles Will Be Electric or Hybrid
Elon Musk has opened up his patents to make the technology innovative. He wants to be acquired by larger companies, and they’re going to catch up to him pretty quickly. Oil and gas have had their heyday. They are on the way out, and electric is on the way up. One will still need oil to create electricity, but big oil and gas are moving sideways to downwards.
4. Machine Learning and Automation Will Increase Exponentially The future of the world is going to revolve around machine learning. Today’s user interface designers are going to become graphic designers. There’s a plugin called GPT-3 for Figma that’s going to be a game-changer. When I started Investment Science, my goal was to make money by just pushing a button. Individuals will be able to leverage existing toolsets like Weebly, and additionally some automation with tools like Zapier that don’t require one to know much in regards to coding. These automation tools are relatively inexpensive and will allow many non-technically oriented individuals to develop interesting products. Every crisis pushes the economy towards a trend rapidly. 5. Covid-19 Will Continue Into 2021
Based on the 1918 flu data, this pandemic is going to last two years from the inception of the disease (i.e., 2019), even though the current technology today is better, and the vaccine is here. Unfortunately, many individuals are still going to be nervous about taking the vaccine. Based on corporate budgets and individual migration patterns, it’s going to have a long lasting impact. The overall economic impact will last longer than two years, just like the financial crisis did in 2008. Interestingly enough, many individuals are stating that New York City may not come back, but how can it not? New York is a major economic hub. If one has the money or can obtain the financing, then New York City and San Francisco may have some nice opportunities in regards to real estate from a long-term investment perspective.
There are plugins coming out for tools such as GPT-3 for Figma, a prototyping wire-frame, where anybody can type in what type of screen he or she wants, and that screen will automatically create a user interface. The future of the world will largely revolve around machine learning, and this may change most UX designers to become graphic designers. It looks like GPT-3 for Figma will be coming out sometime next year, and as of now, it looks like the tool will be a commercial subscription. We posted a video, but this video is credit to Jordan Singer, and this tool is not yet available to the public, but it's interesting to imagine what the future holds of the economy, due to automation. Lastly, we do believe that this is the very definition of disruptive innovation.
Michael Kelly has been working within banking technology for over a decade, and his experience spans across algorithmic trading, project management, product management, alternative finance, hedge funds, private equity, and machine learning. This page is intended to educate others across interesting topics, inclusive of finance.