One of today’s headlines of Singapore’s highest selling English newspaper, The Straits Times, read: “Layoffs, jobless rates rise amid sluggish economy”. Another sobering article on page A8 stated that there were “More jobless, and fewer openings are firms”.
As mentioned on page 27 of our second book, Winning with Honour: in Relationships, Family, Organisations, Leadership, and Life, according to futurist Gerd Leonhard, unemployment is real and increasing exponentially—about 40 to 60 percent of jobs will be lost to automation and digitalisation, as robotics and artificial intelligence are increasingly used to perform repetitive tasks.There is thus an urgent need to honour our futures by looking into it and preparing for it.
Confucius said: “Success depends upon previous preparation; without such preparation there is sure to be failure.”
While this saying of Confucius rings true, it is also important to note that no matter how much each generation of leaders makes things secure and comfortable for subsequent generations, it will never be adequate or even satisfactory. Each generation is different in terms of expectations, aspirations, and circumstances. Each generation has its own issues, its own challenges, and its own opportunities. Each generation wishes to determine its own destiny.
Hence, it is important that each individual in every society takes responsibility for his/her own future, and not expect his/her parents or the government to prepare for their future and provide for all of their needs.
However, before we can prepare for the future, we need to know:
- What is the future going to be like
- Why Honour is critical for a good future
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION OF BUSINESS AND SOCIETY
At a KPMG Robotic Innovations event, futurist Gerd Leonhard delivered a keynote titled “The Digital Transformation of Business and Society: Challenges and Opportunities by 2020”.
Leonhard opined that we are at a point in history where humanity will change more in the next twenty years than in the previous 300 years. There is thus an urgent need to look into the future and prepare for it.
With regard to future thinking, Leonhard mentioned that we not only need to think exponentially, but also in combinations. Automation will also become more widespread.
As reflected in the future scenario diagram by consultant Frank Diana below, anything that can be automated will be automated. However, the acceleration of automation has ethical implications… but technology does not have ethics!
HELLVEN – HEAVEN OR HELL?
In most of the futuristic industries, technology can take two paths that Leonard terms as “Hellven”, as meaning a situation where the technology can be “heaven” (where technology is used to increase the well-being of people) or “hell” (where technology brings about bad unintended consequences).
But while technology has progressed explosively, humanity has only progressed linearly.
Collectively, automation, robotics, intelligent assistants, and artificial intelligence will reframe business, commerce, culture, and society. We need a new social contract for the big data world.
Whether this new world is heaven or hell depends on whether humanity is honoured and whether humanity has honour.
ABUNDANCE ON THE OUTSIDE, SCARCITY ON THE INSIDE
We also mentioned on page 25 of Winning with Honour: in Relationships, Family, Organisations, Leadership, and Life, Leonhard opined that the exponential and intersecting growth of “Digitisation, De-Materialisation, Automation, Virtualisation, Optimisation, Augmentation, and Robotisation” will result in inter-dependency, job displacement, and abundance that comes about due to dramatic cost reduction.
In a world of abundance, there is too much to use. But while there is a physical manifestation of abundance outside, there is a spiritual, emotional, and mental scarcity inside, which sparks individuals to search for what they feel they lack, namely:
Leonhard believes that in accordance with the economic laws of demand and supply, as digitalisation increases, anything that is not digitalisable will become more valuable. This means that people will seek more intuition, love, trust, understanding, creativity, etc.
There will thus be a growing need to focus on the right side of our brain, which cannot be replicated by an algorithm. Examples of right brain characteristics that will grow in importance are:
HONOUR IN THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY
In the world of automation and abundance, experience will become extremely valuable, and an industrial and services economy will be transformed into an “experience economy”.
In an experience economy, people will be more willing to pay for bespoke and innovative services. What would thus be demanded are superior customer service and adept skills in innovation. Hence, creativity, innovation, social intelligence, and customer focus will be very important for businesses, and people will need to develop skills in creative problem-solving and constructive interaction if they still want to be employed.
In the world of big data, efficiency and productivity are part of the process, but are not the goal. After total efficiency is achieved through automation, the value of the business will be contingent on the human and non-digitalisable aspects of a purpose-driven company, namely:
What this means is that organisations must not only excel at technology, but also at humanity.
In a nutshell, in order for us to be future-ready:
- We must honour our humanity.
- We must dare to think differently and innovate to create new value that cannot be easily automated.
- We need stronger values, ethics, standards, principles, and social contracts in an automated world.
- We need Honour to honour these stronger values, ethics, standards, principles, and social contracts to avoid hellish outcomes.
Interested to learn more about how you can prepare yourself for the future economy?
Read “Part III: Honour For The Future: Honouring Our Chances For Success” in “Winning with Honour: in Relationships, Family, Organisations, Leadership, and Life”. Hardcover, softcover, and e-versions of “Winning with Honour” can be found in all major bookstores in Singapore, on Amazon, Kindle, Ebooks.com, Kobo, and World Scientific.
More information can also be found at. www.WinningWithHonour.sg