The world is changing ever day. With technology making its way into every part of our lives, society will continue to move away from being completely humans and start shifting towards becoming pseudo-cyborgs. In order for human to stay ahead of the curve, we must change and adapt to the way things operate or we risk being left behind. Here are the skills I think will be relevant for the next 5 years.
When you hear the world ‘algorithm’ you might think back to primary school when you’re learning basic arithmetic. Yes, 1 +1 is an algorithm but the algorithms I’m referring to relate to how the software and hardware we use operate. The best example of this is social media. We’ve all heard ‘like this video for the YouTube algorithm’ or Netflix’s uncanny ability to recommend us shows that we might like based on our history. These algorithms have already began dominating everything we do. Algorithms are evolving from static and linear to dynamic and exponential, meaning they change based on the circumstance or environment, or more broadly, the context they operate. We are starting to see location based algorithm, i.e. alerts from restaurants around you that are highly rated, or time based algorithms that change settings on your phone depending on what time it is, i.e. do not disturb during your sleep time. As algorithms develop, our responsibility as humans is to be aware they exist and and then do our best to understand what drives it.
Takeaway: Algorithms are evolving and are becoming more sophisticated, we must be aware that the breadth in which algorithms are operating is greater than ever. We must stay vigilant and spend time to understand the algorithms around us or risk being consumed by them.
Self awareness and understanding your ‘style’
Society goes through cycles of consolidating and unravelling. We are currently in the phase of unravelling; where people are becoming more individualistic about their wants. As change rapidly increases, our ability to change will be tested. One way to prepare for this is to spend time understanding who you are and where you potentially fit in or not fit in. Understand areas that you are good are and bad at. As people become more self-aware, the aggregate production of society will start to increase exponentially because people will be in positions where they can focus on their strengths and understand where others accomodate for their weaknesses.
In the business context, 40 year careers in 1 company or industry not longer exist. People are moving jobs every couple of years to gain a wider breadth of experience and people are starting to work for themselves more frequently. Skills and personal branding is becoming more important than the company they work for and by understanding what drives you, both intrinsically and extrinsically, will give you an edge as change continues to accelerate.
Innovation and developments in technology aren’t always good. They might be net-positive when considering both sides of the equation but we need to be aware of both sides. Let’s look at machine learning and AI. Buzz words that are gaining popularity very quickly. With advancements in these areas, more and more content users see are heavily edited, and some times completely different from what is captured. The amazing sunset in front of a mountain you saw on Instagram? A layered photo of a mountain someone saw with another layer with the sunset and perfect cloud formations. Adding to this trend is ‘Deep fakes’. Deep fakes are replicating someones face onto another persons body. Higher quality of ‘deep fakes’ are impossible to tell its not them. Obviously there are implications of fraud, etc. And lastly, fake news. Algorithms and AI are developing to the point where they are able to scan the web, and write misinformation articles on whatever topic they like.
Now, where does critical thinking come into play? Critical thinking is considering both sides of the argument and making a decision on which side of the fence you sit on. If you have seen ‘The Social Dilemma’, you are probably aware that more and more people are only considering one side of the argument; their side. Because platform businesses use users as their product, they are incentivised to keep them on for as long as possible. One tactic in achieving that is to promote content that the user agrees or supports based on algorithms and previous interactions. This is dangerous. It is creating a reinforcing mechanism that what they believe is right because all they see is other people saying what they already agree. This leads to inflated egos, false information and misconstrued version of the truth and reality.
Conclusion and takeaways
If we tie being algorithmically aware with self-awareness and critical thinking, as technology evolves and the pace of change increases, what is true will be easier to find. If these skills aren’t applied, we risk having society fragment to the point where they only talk to others they agree with and businesses dictating the behaviour of everything we do via their platforms and algorithms.
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