Three inspirational speeches that focus on the future of jobs.

Three TED Talks about work that will inspire you

If you are a superfan of TED talks this is the perfect article for you. But also for those who are not so familiar with this format, because TED “is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics – from science to business to global issues – in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.”

TED talks cover a wide range of topics, but today we are going to focus on a specific one: work. We have selected three inspirational speeches that focus on the future of jobs:

  1. Will Automation Take Away Our Jobs?
  2. Why Jobs of the Future Won’t Feel Like Work.
  3. How We’ll Earn Money in a Future without Jobs

Let us begin with the first talk by David Autor, in which he points out some interesting facts about automation and its impact on our jobs. A paradox emerges: machines increasingly do our work for us, but this doesn’t make our labour redundant and our skills obsolete. Why are there still so many jobs? The speaker reminds us that automation creates wealth by allowing us to do more work in less time, and the challenge isn’t that we are running out of jobs but that many of them are not good jobs. What’s more, many citizens cannot qualify for the good jobs that are being created. Watch the full video of his talk to discover more about this topic.

Now we move on to the second talk given by David Lee, regarding a possible jobless future. He cites the example of a self-driving car, then asks what is going to happen to the job of driver and  how  the people who once drove cars will evolve professionally. A recent study from Forrester Research goes as far as to predict that 25 million jobs might disappear over the next 10 years. Even though most jobs left the factory decades ago, we still hold on to this factory mindset of standardization and de-skilling. We still define jobs around procedural tasks and then pay people for the number of hours that they perform these tasks. We’ve created narrow job definitions like cashier, loan processor or taxi driver and then asked people to form entire careers around these singular tasks. David Lee believes that the jobs of the future will come from the minds of people who today we call analysts and specialists, but only if we give them the freedom and protection that they need to grow into becoming explorers and inventors.

The third talk is by Martin Ford, who poses an interesting question: how are we going to earn money in a future without jobs? You can imagine a future where we all have to work less, we have more time for leisure, more time to spend with our families, more time to do things that we find genuinely rewarding and so forth. That’s something that we should absolutely strive to move towards. But at the same time we have to be realistic, and we have to realize that we’re very likely to face a significant income distribution problem. In order to solve that problem, we’re ultimately going to have to find a way to decouple incomes from traditional work. One of the most important challenges that we all face in the coming years and decades is to build a future economy that works for everyone, at every level of our society. Don’t miss the full talk!