5. October 2016
Kelli Wells is Executive Director for Education and Skills at the GE Foundation.
OCT 5, 2016 Project Syndicate
NEW YORK – Understanding the future of work is difficult, if not impossible. According to the MacArthur Foundation, 65% of today’s schoolchildren will eventually be employed in jobs that don’t exist yet.
As technology, globalization, and many other factors continue to redefine work, one constant will be the need for soft skills, or “skills for life.” Peer-to-peer deliberation, brainstorming, and collaboration are familiar to working professionals today, but we can’t assume that they come naturally, especially to the millions of students without access to proper training and college- and career-planning resources. In fact, a growing global skills gap suggests that many young workers are already falling behind.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US economy has 5.9 million job openings, while 7.8 million people remain unemployed. In Europe, 5.6 million young people are unemployed, while another two million are neither working nor in school. Read the rest of this entry »
30. June 2016
Bruno Michel is a scientist at IBM Research – Zurich.
JUN 30, 2016, Project Syndicate
ZURICH – Ever since the American computer scientist John McCarthy coined the term “Artificial Intelligence” in 1955, the public has imagined a future of sentient computers and robots that think and act like humans. But while such a future may indeed arrive, it remains, for the moment, a distant prospect.
And yet the foreseeable frontier of computing is no less exciting. We have entered what we at IBM call the Cognitive Era. Breakthroughs in computing are enhancing our ability to make sense of large bodies of data, providing guidance in some of the world’s most important decisions, and potentially revolutionizing entire industries.
The term “cognitive computing” refers to systems that, rather than being explicitly programmed, are built to learn from their experiences. By extracting useful information from unstructured data, these systems accelerate the information age, helping their users with a broad range of tasks, from identifying unique market opportunities to discovering new treatments for diseases to crafting creative solutions for cities, companies, and communities. Read the rest of this entry »
1. July 2015
Source: Project Syndicate
Jean Pisani-Ferry is a professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and currently serves as Commissioner-General for Policy Planning for the French government. He is a former director of Bruegel, the Brussels-based economic think tank.
PARIS – In 1983, the American economist and Nobel laureate Wassily Leontief made what was then a startling prediction. Machines, he said, are likely to replace human labor much in the same way that the tractor replaced the horse. Today, with some 200 million people worldwide out of work – 30 million more than in 2008 – Leontief’s words no longer seem as outlandish as they once did. Indeed, there can be little doubt that technology is in the process of completely transforming the global labor market.
To be sure, predictions like Leontief’s leave many economists skeptical, and for good reason. Historically, increases in productivity have rarely destroyed jobs. Each time that machines yielded gains in efficiency (including when tractors took over from horses), old jobs disappeared, but new jobs were created. Furthermore, economists are number crunchers, and recent data show a slowdown – rather than an acceleration – in productivity gains. When it comes to the actual number of jobs available, there are reasons to question the doomsayers’ dire predictions. Yet there are also reasons to think that the nature of work is changing. Read the rest of this entry »
19. January 2015
Source: Project Syndicate
Eric Schmidt is Executive Chairman of Google.
BERLIN – The best inventions are never finished. When the German engineer Karl Benz invented the first petroleum-powered automobile, he did not just create an engine with wheels; he set in motion an industry that revolutionized the way society was structured. Similarly, the English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee did not only build the world’s first Web site. He laid the groundwork for the World Wide Web. Neither could have anticipated the impact of what he was doing.
If there is one lesson that economic policymakers should heed in 2015 and beyond, it is this: Just as invention is dynamic, so are the industries it creates. As we learned in 2014, it is a lesson that has yet to sink in entirely.
When Google was launched, people were amazed that they were able to find out about almost anything by typing just a few words into a computer. The engineering behind it was technically complicated, but what you got was pretty rough: a page of text, broken up by ten blue links. It was better than anything else, but not great by today’s standards. Read the rest of this entry »
11. October 2014
Source: Project Syndicate
Nathan Eagle is the CEO of Jana, a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.
BOSTON – Nearly everyone has a digital footprint – the trail of so-called “passive data” that is produced when you engage in any online interaction, such as with branded content on social media, or perform any digital transaction, like purchasing something with a credit card. A few seconds ago, you may have generated passive data by clicking on a link to read this article.
Passive data, as the name suggests, are not generated consciously; they are by-products of our everyday technological existence. As a result, this information – and its intrinsic monetary value – often goes unnoticed by Internet users.
But the potential of passive data is not lost on companies. They recognize that such information, like a raw material, can be mined and used in many different ways. For example, by analyzing users’ browser history, firms can predict what kinds of advertisements they might respond to or what kinds of products they are likely to purchase. Even health-care organizations are getting in on the action, using a community’s purchasing patterns to predict, say, an influenza outbreak.
Indeed, an entire industry of businesses – which operate rather euphemistically as “data-management platforms” – now captures individual users’ passive data and extracts hundreds of billions of dollars from it. According to the Data-Driven Marketing Institute, the data-mining industry generated $156 billion in revenue in 2012 – roughly $60 for each of the world’s 2.5 billion Internet users. Read the rest of this entry »
9. April 2014
Source: Project Syndicate
Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne, is the author of Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, One World, The Ethics of What We Eat (with Jim Mason), The Life You Can Save, and the forthcoming The Point of View of the Universe (with Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek). In 2013, he was named the world’s third “most influential contemporary thinker” by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute.
MELBOURNE – Last year, a report from Harvard University set off alarm bells, because it showed that the proportion of students in the United States completing bachelor’s degrees in the humanities fell from 14% to 7%. Even elite universities like Harvard itself have experienced a similar decrease. Moreover, the decline seems to have become steeper in recent years. There is talk of a crisis in the humanities.
I don’t know enough about the humanities as a whole to comment on what is causing enrollments to fall. Perhaps many humanities disciplines are not seen as likely to lead to fulfilling careers, or to any careers at all. Maybe that is because some disciplines are failing to communicate to outsiders what they do and why it matters. Or, difficult as it may be to accept, maybe it is not just a matter of communication: Perhaps some humanities disciplines really have become less relevant to the exciting and fast-changing world in which we live.
I state these possibilities without reaching a judgment about any of them. What I do know something about, however, is my own discipline, philosophy, which, through its practical side, ethics, makes a vital contribution to the most urgent debates that we can have.
Read the rest of this entry »
21. November 2013
Mona Mourshed leads McKinsey & Company’s global education practice.
WASHINGTON, DC – In an age of skyrocketing unemployment, it may seem reasonable to assume that companies do not have to worry about finding workers. But a recent McKinsey survey of more than 2,800 employers worldwide has underscored just how flawed that perception is. Four out of ten employers said that they cannot find workers to fill entry-level positions in their firms, with more than one-third of respondents saying that their businesses are suffering from a lack of appropriate skills in the labor market.
Meanwhile, young people worldwide are struggling to find jobs. While the eurozone crisis helps to explain why more than half of young people in Greece and Spain are unemployed, rapidly growing economies like South Africa and Nigeria are experiencing similar rates of youth joblessness. In the Middle East and North Africa, one in three young people are unemployed. And, in the United States, roughly half of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 were jobless or underemployed upon graduation last year.
All of this points to the costly skills mismatch at play in today’s economy. In the US alone, the opportunity cost of failing to improve education would amount to $1.7 trillion by 2030. Similarly, by bridging its growing skills gap, China could augment its GDP by $250 billion by 2020. So why isn’t more being done to ensure that young people acquire the skills they need?
The problem is rooted in divergent perceptions among the various players in the labor market. More than 70% of the educational institutions surveyed by McKinsey believe that their graduates are ready for the job market; more than half of employers and young people disagree. Closing this gap requires that educators and employers work together more closely. Employers should communicate their requirements to educators; educators need to give their graduates the tools that will enable them to meet these requirements. The problem is missed connections, so the solution is to make more of them. Read the rest of this entry »