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‘Robot-proof' Your Work Future

By Afrika Brown

The bald futurist speaking about artificial intelligence

Whether you are worried about artificial intelligence or eagerly awaiting the day when you can zip across town in your hovercraft like George Jetson, now is the time to see how your skills stack up against the rising robot class.

Steve Brown, aka the Bald Futurist, will share his insights about the relationship between humans and technology. His lecture, titled "The Future of Work," will take place at Olin Hall on Thursday Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the Walla Walla community.

"Most people remain afraid of AI. They don't need to be," Brown said. "It's natural to be afraid of something that you don't fully understand, especially when science fiction writers and Hollywood producers have done such a fabulous job entertaining us with dystopian stories like ‘The Terminator' or ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.' But we shouldn't let these movies make us afraid of technological advancement."

According to Brown, there are plenty of jobs that are "robot-proof." While technology will automate some tasks in the coming decades, jobs that require a human-to-human connection, such as those that involve high-level thinking, imagination, empathy, interpersonal communication, leadership and entrepreneurial skills, won't be easily automated.

"Robot-proof jobs will require skill sets that remain the unique province of humans, namely the soft skills. To become and remain robot-proof, double down on your own humanity," Brown said.

What does that mean for the student of the future? Brown believes the days of getting a degree and being done with education for the duration of your life are over. Workers of the future will most likely return back to college several times throughout their career to retrain or develop new skills, which will help them keep a competitive edge.

"Educators will need to embrace technology as a way to reimagine pedagogy, and also to dramatically reduce the cost of delivering a high-quality education," Brown said.

Brown, a former chief evangelist at Intel, is a speaker and author with over 30 years of experience in high tech. He has been featured on CNN, BBC, Bloomberg TV, CBS, ABC News and many other media outlets. His visit to Whitman was sponsored by the Hubbard Family Endowment, the President's Office, the Student Engagement Center and the Sherwood Trust.

"I try to help people understand the exciting positive possibilities of the future whenever I speak. AI will help us find cures for chronic diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's, it will help us to develop new wonder materials, and it may help us better understand the secrets of the universe," Brown said. "Ultimately, it will elevate human work, enabling us to focus on higher-level tasks that create more meaning in our lives."

Published on Oct 31, 2018
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