By Raymond Alvarez
On Special Assignment – DaVinci Institute (Oct. 13, 2016)

His quote has been following him around the globe. “A staggering 2 billion jobs will be lost to technological advancement by 2030.”

The author is a tall Colorado author whom looks the part of seer – and maybe trumpet player for a jazz band. It’s the beard he’s worn for years. He has been known to pose for photos dressed in a renaissance period costume. People are unlikely to forget Futurist Thomas Frey and the stir he has caused, though he is not the only one who says many jobs will be lost.

Futurist Thomas Frey
Futurist Thomas Frey

Among the examples he gives is a seemingly innocuous app that has a 56 percent success rate in challenging traffic tickets. Even tiny innovation can rob pockets. And, it gets worse. Frey also points to the jobs that were lost when that carpenter’s tool, the level, was replaced by a phone app. As the app grew in popularity all the people who once worked shaping the aluminum, packaging the product and managing others quickly found themselves among the jobless.

Worse yet are the innovators with large-scale impact. Fast growing Uber found a way to eliminate middle management from the taxi business. A devastating 6 million jobs have been touted to end when driverless cars hit the road, and Frey thinks that’s low.

“No job is safe from the steady advancement of artificial intelligence,” Frey says.

From this week’s headlines, Harvard Business Review: Doctors, lawyers, accountants, and so on — believe they will emerge largely unscathed. They say, “routine work can be taken on by machines, but they maintain that human experts will always be needed for the tricky stuff that calls for judgment, creativity, and empathy. Harvard’s research and analysis challenges the idea that these professionals will be spared.”

Frey, author of Epiphany Z, poses the question: “How do we prepare ourselves when past assumptions prove to be wrong?” His answer: “By learning how to think differently about the future.”

Tuesday he revealed his jaw-dropping thinking on how the world’s humans can remain in the game, and draw on machine intelligence: “Artificial Intelligence will wear two hats: destroyer of jobs and trainer and mentor for new jobs.”

Frey expects AI to hasten learning in ways yet unseen. The common perception is tutoring helps those struggling with their studies. But a few students lift themselves from mediocrity into the rarified air of academic excellence by relying on tutors to get them there. AI will supply that guidance for students, and if tech companies are successful, there will be machines that assess individual skills and weaknesses. Frey has been a long proponent, too, of using virtual reality to help. Learning by doing is the way coders are accelerating their training.

Frey assures us that AI and other tools can educate faster, more effectively and less expensively.

“Everyone wants that, right?” he asks with a wry smile after his presentation.

It turns out the general public and particularly parents and educators are not keen on the idea of eliminating teachers. In the panel discussion that followed, it was noted that teachers encourage and promote an array of important qualities in their children, everything from happiness, values, and social skills that will lead to becoming better human beings.

Frey expects teachers will remain a fixture at schools, but their status will evolve. The next stop for them is education coaching.

Frey is optimistic. “People will figure it out,” he often says at his talks. “They will do what they always do. They will adapt to their new circumstances.”

The marketplace can be reliably expected to come up with solutions. Infusing AI into education will spread virally throughout the education system, he predicts. The DaVinci Institute is a leader in this regard. DaVinci Coders was initiated over four years ago. Today, certificates can be earned in as little as 12 weeks of night training. DaVinci currently offers Python, game app writing and Javascript.

Frey’s talk Tuesday night is timely. Free higher education has been a popular topic in this year’s primary and Hillary Clinton has promised to reduce the cost of higher education.

Of course, you would expect Frey to argue that private enterprise can do everything the government can and do it better. He expects to see competition grow for micro colleges like the DaVinci Coders. Frey has been talking to a number of higher-ed thought leaders about the concept.

While many for-profit schools are disappearing, non-profit DaVinci moved into larger digs in the past year. Part of that space is rented as shared worker space, but by all appearances, the coding school is succeeding.

“The role of education is changing. It is no longer possible to predict the educational needs of business four to five years in advance,” Frey notes. “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t exist using technology that hasn’t been invented to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems yet.”

In other words, “future generations will need to rapidly reskill.”

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Article via: DaVinci Institute