Robots or People Skills?

Recently I was asked to speak at a Chartered Accountants Conference on this:  "Opportunities in New Zealand in the future".  Big topic! 

On the face of it, the obvious answer to the question was to head down the technology path - in one form or another. In reality I wasn't aware of the circumstances of all the people in the audience and I'm certainly no tech expert. On the strength of that I decided that outlining specific opportunities was both fraught with danger and highly unlikely to be uniquely relevant to anyone  But I did figure out that everyone in the audience was a person! 

There is a lot of talk about the advent of artificial intelligence, the advancement of technology and the expected increased use, or presence, of robots in our future lives. Given what is happening that all rings true.  Below is a great example of some robotic technology helping to solve a problem with a coral eating starfish on the Great Barrier Reef. I suspect you will have seen this, or something similar. 

It seems inevitable that driverless vehicles will become commonplace, bots will transform various aspects of business and as yet unknown technologies will play important parts in our lives. 

The more I researched it the more the importance of "people" became seemingly apparent. 

Alongside this technological development, the world's population is growing exponentially. Given current growth rates, life expectancy and fertility rates, most projections put the world's population at somewhere around 9 billion by the year 2050. That is in excess of 200,000 MORE people on the planet every day! 

As our use of technology increases there is also something of a realisation about the importance of socialisation to us as humans. Sitting staring at screens is not something we were designed to do.

The addictive nature of the social media platforms is becoming better understood. The production of fundamental chemicals in our bodies, like dopamine and serotonin,  for either a stress or euphoric response is being influenced by our interaction with these devices - to the detriment of our health. 

We were, and still are, designed to interact with each other in person.  

So with technology coming at us whether we like it or not and the world's population growing flat out what is it that will help us, personally, the most into the future? 

I believe that unless you are directly involved in the tech developments going on then your ability to connect with others into the future is going to be incredibly important. Even if you are one of the "techies" you are still going to need people around you, and to get on with those people, to get some key things done - and done well. 

Speaking at the World Economic Forum earlier this year, Alibaba Founder Jack Ma outlined some thoughts on education into the future and what will be the most important things to be teaching in the education systems. What he had to say might surprise you. Interestingly enough - it's not technology! You can have look at his thoughts below.

Technology is coming. There is no doubt about that.

But so is a wave of people. 

And people like dealing with people they like and that they trust.

Will you be one of them?

I hope so.