Couple thoughts on Future of work

This is a theme I am extremely interested in. Besides my interest in past, in history, I am also curious about the future, especially the kind of future which will be important to me personally and to people I care about. Future of work is one of such topics where volumes have been written about. OK perhaps not volumes but certainly quite a few books have been written about it. It is interesting how the past intersect with the future through the present of course.

How fast is the world changing? Let me see. My grandmother was born in a mountainous village, never finished school learnt to read on her own. My father was born in ww2 in a refuge among a bloodbath of Yugoslavia in ww2. I lived through the death of Yugoslavia at the end of the 20th century. Now I am in New Zealand, working as a beekeeper and educating my self online through an e learning campus, Open Polytechnic. So much has changed, incredibly much. We went from a village, through industrialization to modern knowledge economy in three generations.

When my grandmother was born there was no electricity. When she passed on, the internet was just starting to grow. When my kids were born the internet was already big. Now it is massive, with all its good and all its bad parts included (conspiracies, anti waxers, extremism, echo chambers). Also we are supposedly on the edge of a new revolution. The AI revolution which according to some will surpass all our inventions taken together.

Well see I guess. One thing I worry is that change is painful. Big change is even more painful. Extreme change might be extremely painful. This conclusion comes from my personal experience of living through the fall of the Berlin wall, eg the end of socialism/communism in former Yugoslavia. It was unbelievably horrible and painful.

Anyways that is a long way from the future of work which I wanted to write a bit about. Actually I will be very short. Short as in a couple of sentences. Actually as the images are better than words here are a couple of images which might or might not better illustrate my view.

First image: the garbage collection. One person in a truck, it takes him/her about 5-10 seconds to pick up the garbage from the bin. In my hometown in Serbia this job is being done by three people and it takes them way longer.

Second image a petrol pump without people. It a self service and there are zero employees at the site. A bit confusing and a kind of scarry. At least a couple of jobs gone, permanently.

Third image a cute but pointless robot on Christchurch airport. He/she/it can match your hand gestures. Sweet but useless.

My conclusion: not worried about robots or software taking my job. I want it/them to take it so that I can do something easier and hopefully more profitable. I just don’t want to be kicked out of mu job and left with nothing to do. In fact I would love to have a robot which does my job while I get my pay. That is the solution.

Exocortex or the second brain

Or why not say it in real terms? My note taking system.

I would say that this concept might be one of most profound ideas I have stumbled up in a last couple of years. The concept is quite simple: there is an enormous amount of information flowing out there. Books, podcasts, articles, news, videos, how-to’s, ideas you name it. I tend to spend large amount of my time connected to this information flow in one form or the other. But what do you do with all this information? Does it go one way in then the other way out? If so, you are not alone. I do not doubt that some of sticks in your brain and in your life, but how much and of what quality? Your brain is not an information retention machine. It is good at creating new ideas but not so good at idea retention. WIkipedia has it covered if you would like to learn more. There are plenty of ways your for your memories to not form well and plenty of ways for memories to fade out.

Anyways, it is simple to some degree to retain some of that, whit some kind of note taking system. The thing is, don’t just dump your information into a notebook. If you are just a knowledge collector, it wont work that well. You will just have a info storage which you will rarely use and benefit only slightly from if at all. This is exactly how I used Evernote.

There is another way and I believe a better way. Something Tiago Forte talks about as a second brain or in fancy language Exocortex, exo as in external and cortex as in part of the brain. The External brain.

The idea, like most good ideas is really a simple one. Write down all interesting ideas, thoughts, inspirational quotes anything that captures your attention and you think is valuable and write it down. Note: do not copy and past a whole article. The system works on the premise that you capture just one small idea. One idea/concept is one note. It is the essence which you want to keep, organize and revise. This saves time and attention and collects your important insights. From there on, this notes will hold your insights indefinitely. By revising them, connecting them and traveling up and down through them, you will remember, create new ideas, form new and unexpected connections and hopefully become a better thinker.

My current setup is Drafts for capturing ideas and The Archive for storing and organizing them. This is a book often recommended which goes in depth on this system. Note: I did not read the book yet, but it does look like a useful read.

Corona virus

Strange times ahead. Global pandemic first time in our lives, first time in history. We had global pandemics in the past like the Spanish flu of 1918 which killed more people than the first world war. There was even more important at least for the Europe, the black death of the 15 century. Which some scholars claim to have triegered deep social transformations which later sprouted into the industrial revolution.

Now it is different as we are globally aware because of these wast computer networks also known as the web. We now know what is happening in every corner of the world. The spread, the casualty numbers, the fears, the panic. Dismissal, conspiracy theories every crazy meme, rumours and collective fear. It influences policies, migrations, economy. And what about politics? How will we perceive societies which conforonted the virus in a better way? So far looks like strong governemtn societies like China or Singapore did way nbetter than traditional democracies like US or Italy.

This changes the world in a big big way. Perhaps for the better. As we become more aware of the fact that we are together in this boat, in this as Bucky Fuller said, Spaceship Earth.

Someone online said that this is just the begining and I tend to agree. What else is in the que? Which dangerous viruses, bacterias are waiting to wreak havock on us? Who knows. It is easy to imagine something much more deadly than this virus. Although I do not want to say that this is not dangerous enough. Covid19 is quite capable of killing massive numbers of people, shatter economies and change global politics for better or worse.

i just hope we will able to surface better out of this. Learn a lesson, rethink our ways, improve, become better individuals and more resilient societies. We’ll see.

Interesting times ahead.

Interesting bit

Word I’m enjoying —
Sonder (from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows). “Sonder n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” (Hat tip to Jawad Mian, who introduced me to this. Thanks, Jawad!)

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