Technology is changing our lives all the time, including our jobs. New tech means new careers. But how do you prepare for jobs that don’t exist yet?
Christopher Bishop is a man who sees opportunity everywhere…and he definitely isn’t afraid of change.
Christopher describes himself as a “nonlinear multimodal careerist”, and he’s had eight careers so far. His current title suits him perfectly: Chief Reinvention Officer.
After studying German literature at college, he began touring as a musician. Then he worked as a web producer before starting a 15-year career as a strategic consultant at IBM. Moving from music to tech might sound like a strange transition, but Christopher said “music is data” anyway- and in the 80s he began seeing the link between the two.
“Technology keeps moving forward rapidly. And the pandemic has prompted even faster innovation than usual,” he said.
“An example I cite is Zoom. Their profit went up 400% last quarter year over year. As crazy as the pandemic is, it represents opportunity.”
As music and technology began to cross over for Christopher, naturally he saw an opportunity to expand his skills.
“I was in the jingle biz, writing music for television, and I saw this wacky thing come along called the Internet. And I said, ‘That looks like it’s going to be interesting and probably have global socio-cultural business impact, and they may need music.’”
After working in agencies as a web producer in the 90s (since very few people could create websites then) Chris then began his 15-year career at IBM.
Are robots stealing our jobs?
Christopher said the large shipping company DHL is replacing a lot of floor managers with robot implementation managers. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s real.
“They’re figuring out how to train robots, how to write software, put together business requirements that can then be translated to software that can be then uploaded into these robots to help with pack, and getting stuck in the right boxes in the right trucks,” he said.
“These kinds of transformations have actually been going on for hundreds of years.”
Christopher now runs workshops at universities called How to Succeed at Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet. The content is just as handy as the title suggests. It might stun you to learn that people started being nervous about technology back in the 1500s.
“I often preface it with a quote from Queen Elizabeth I in 1589, who refused to issue a patent for fear it would put her poor subjects out of work,” Christopher said.
“She was talking about mechanized knitting machines. Even 430-odd years ago people were railing against technology taking people’s jobs or transforming how people work.”
One of the careers Christopher cites as an example is nano pharmacy.
“There are companies developing machines that operate at the nano level to deliver pharmacology or drugs at the molecular or even atomic level to wounds or tumors.
“The three chemists who won the Nobel Prize a couple of years ago won it for developing nanomachines, machines that are around the 25th diameter of a human hair.
“MIT opened a brand new $400 million building which is basically nine floors of clean rooms focused on nanos.”
…or are robots creating new jobs for us?
Christopher said roles like “robot ethicist” would appear as robots are developed to perform manual roles.
“They’re making robots now that are being deployed in lots of different situations, not just manufacturing sites,” he said.
“There could be personal robots that help in care homes or work in hospitals that do mundane tasks to free up nurses from having to change bed linen or bring supplies to a doctor.”
But what if these helpful robots injure someone?
“What’s the legal commitment? It’s hard to sue a robot. Is it the caregiver? Is it the person who leased the robot? Where does that proverbial buck stop?
“With these new technologies, that’s an intersection that didn’t exist. Ten years ago nobody needed to get a lawyer for a robot.”
So how do we prepare for these future jobs?
“I think it’s the individual’s responsibility. The good news is there are myriad sources of information now, but the bad news is there are myriad sources of information now.
“We’re at a seminal point where technology and global culture are intersecting in ways that they never did before. And what that represents is lots of really interesting opportunities to do cool stuff,” Christopher said.
“My advice to younger workers and Gen Z learners is to chase the maelstrom. Find the chaos.”
See Christopher’s course on LinkedIn Learning, Future Proofing Your Data Science Career.
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