Jobs of the future: sports referees out, emotional designers in


This morning I was interviewed on the national breakfast program Sunrise on the future of jobs, discussing a report that suggested 40% of jobs could be replaced by automation in the next 10-15 years.

Click on the image to see a video of the segment:

In the segment I pointed to some of the broader trends shaping the future of work, as well as particular jobs that would be disappearing or growing.

REFEREES are an excellent example of the kind of work that is on the verge of being automated. Judgment and decision-making is required, however those decisions needs to be based on as full data as possible. Human referees can only have one view of events. While many sports are starting to allow computer data to be used, such as whether the ball has crossed the line in soccer, these are only in limited instances.

Of course judging whether there has been a foul is far less cut-and-dried. However multiple cameras on all action, combined with machine learning algorithms fed by thousands of examples of what does and does not constitute a foul, could probably already perform better than most human referees on the field. Sportspeople’s and fans’ willingness to embrace the new technology is another issue, however there are few who would dearly hang on to the flaws of human referees.

DESIGN is in a way the defining domain of the future, in shaping technology, products, and indeed everything in our world so it best suits humans. Design requires creativity, and even more it requires a deep understanding of what it is to be human, and how we want to experience the world. In the segment I used the example of emotional robot designers, those who design machines to interact with us on an emotional level.

While it sounds like a specialist role, in the broadest sense it will be a massive job sector. We need to design effective emotional engagement into the technologies we create. Design will be at the heart of the 21st century, and design work will grow massively, because it requires uniquely human capabilities to forge a human-centric world.

As a society we need to be thinking deeply about how automation will impact today’s and tomorrow’s jobs. Many jobs will disappear, yet there will massive demand for many domains of human talent.

Considering this we can shape our companies, educational institutions, and personal journeys to where prosperity lies.