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The future of predictions

How many times have we heard in the recent past that precisely 44% of jobs will be disrupted by technology. Or that exactly 47% of white collar roles will be augmented? (To be honest, you may have heard some of these numbers from me).


How we do love the spurious accuracy of statistics, especially when they are produced by an algorithm created by artificial intelligence.


Of course, we really don’t know with any precision what will happen even in the near future, let alone 5 or 10 years hence.


A couple of examples.

Do you remember when text messages first became available on mobile phones? Telco firms priced them at typically 25c or 10p per text. The inherent assumption being, “how many of these things could people possibly send a day? 8? 10, tops?”. Despite years of experience and industry knowledge the big players had no idea how people would actually behave once offered the opportunity to communicate with their nearest and dearest using only a tiny keyboard and their thumbs.


Over a slightly later time frame intensive focus group and customer research directed most of the major consumer tech companies to invest heavily in 3-d television. After tens or hundreds of millions of dollars investment in technology and marketing the big firms have quietly walked away from this Idea. Despite years of experience and industry knowledge the big players had no idea how people would actually behave once asked to watch television through a pair of plastic glasses.


So, sure, lots of jobs will likely be disrupted and many white collar jobs may well be augmented but how many and over what time frame is clouded in uncertainty and depends on how people respond to the technology once it is available.


In the meantime our advice remains the same, do the planning, understand your options, be clear on your purpose and make sure you are prepared for whatever future actually transpires.

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