Two things that happened over the last week have prompted this week's blog. The first was a statement in the UK budget that addressed investment in driverless cars and the second was my preparation for a lecture I am delivering in a week's time where I am addressing preparation for the future.
As far as driverless cars were concerned, I thought that government were being quite progressive until I started looking into the subject of driverless transport. I know that we have had limited driverless transport in places like airports and in towns where there are dedicated rails, but it had not occurred to me that we would look at driverless lorries and vans.
As if this wasn't scary enough, while I had marvelled at airforce pilots flying drones from 3000 miles away, it never occurred to me that the same technology could be applied to standard aircraft. But then I read that Fedex hope to have all of their US cargo planes flown by four pilots sitting in a control centre!
As more of my research I looked at the use of robots. Apparently robots have been used successfully to carry out medical tasks such as hair transplants with one doctor controlling several simultaneous robots. It is also reckoned that the same use of several robots under the control of one doctor could be used for certain non-invasive surgeries.
Then there is the emergence of 'chatbots'. We are quite used to Siri, and yet most people don't appreciate what Siri does. In practice they take voice commands, transfer them into search algorithms, carry out internet searches and deliver the answers with a voice and pictorial response. People are now recognising the benefits of using 'chatbots' to replace call centre staff as they see that the 'chatbot' is more accurate, faster and not prone to mood swings or prejudice. They also know when to pass a problem down the line rather than holding on to something they cannot fix.
It is reckoned that by 2020, 85 % of customer interactions will be non-human and shops and banks already exist that have no humans in customer facing roles.
There are many more examples, but already this blog has reduced the need for everything from drivers and pilots to call centre staff and shop personnel. Moreover, these changes are predicted to happen in the next three years rather than in the distant future.
So how do parents, teachers and lecturers prepare today's young people for such a world. If changes like this can happen this fast then we have to find a different way to prepare them other than the conventional education and careers advice services. We need to find ways to ensure that our young people are willing to embrace change rather than be frightened of it; we need to ensure that our children maintain their natural creativity; we need to stop wrapping them in cotton wool and encourage them to take risks and we need to stop them being afraid of failure but to learn from failure.
Hard as it may be to accept, the world of the present adult is not the world that the young people of today will live in. We cannot tell them what to do but we can encourage the skills that will enable them to find out what to do.