Productivity is Out, Creativity will be the Key to 2020

Productivity is Out, Creativity will be the Key to 2020

The progress of emerging technologies in 2020, such as AI, big data, and machine learning, could mean that for many humans the most mundane parts of their jobs are automated. As a result, humans will have more time to be creative.

Productivity is now very much in the domain of machines,” argues Scott Belsky, chief product officer for Adobe Creative Cloud. He adds:

“Humans will prosper not by becoming more productive, but by becoming more creative.”

Scott Belsky

Belsky says there will be a shift to how we work with the applications we use daily changing from utility ones to more creative ones. These applications will help us “express an idea more persuasively, craft a social post more engagingly, personalise our fashion or build a more elegant interface.” Belsky says rewards “will accrue not for working fast, but for making something uniquely effective.”

Moving forward through 2020 and beyond, technology will take care of productivity and humans will do “what only we can do: thinking and acting creatively,” says the Adobe senior executive.

Whilst this may be the case for managers, professionals, engineers, white-collar, and digitally oriented workers those in predominantly manual or low-skill roles remain concerned. These workers worry that instead of making jobs easier, automation and AI will replace them entirely.

This could be true for certain roles. Factory workers may be replaced by factory robots. Some customer service staff could be replaced by chatbots and AI-powered digital agents. Society will need to continue to investigate future training and retraining opportunities. But it is also true that in other roles automation and AI will take over repetitive tasks and leave humans to more skilled and more complex, and often creative, tasks. Also creating opportunities to become more skilled in certain roles.

Carl Frey and Michael Osborne are credited with warning that “47% of jobs will be lost to technology,” as per Gigaom CEO Byron Reese writing for SingularityHub. What the authors actually tried to convey was that “some functions,” of 47% of jobs would be automated. Reese argues:

“The relevant question is whether most people can do a job that’s just a little more complicated than the one they currently have.”

Byron Reese

As per the World Economic Forum (WEF), McKinsey & Company estimate that around 50% of current work activities are “technically automatable.” But, that only between 3% and, at worst, 14% of workers will need to change their occupation due to technology adoption.

Christopher Pissarides, a professor at the London School of Economics says that through the industrial revolution and beyond there have been concerns about machinery and technology replacing workers and causing unemployment. Pissarides argues, “historical evidence shows that labor-replacing technological innovation does not lead to long-term changes in employment and unemployment rates in industrial countries.” He adds there is “abundant evidence of human ingenuity in creating new jobs.” Again, he says that some workers will move to higher skilled complimentary jobs or even to new sectors. The key is a supporting educational system. Pissarides explains:

“Sectoral employment transition is easier where the educational system teaches a broad range of skills, rather than encouraging specialization from an early age, and where flexible labor markets have good retraining facilities.”

Christopher Pissarides- professor at the London School of Economics

There is no doubt that in some sectors a drive for creativity will replace one for productivity and systems and machines will be responsible for delivering much of the latter. In other sectors and job roles automation and AI may replace some jobs entirely. Or parts of jobs, though this may lead to a lower total number of workers being required within a company, or an industry. The key for society in managing this transition is ensuring supporting mechanisms, like training opportunities, are available for those concerned or directly affected by automation.

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