Humans Need Not Apply. That was the title of a 2015 best-seller by Jerry Kaplan. Unfortunately, it wasn’t fiction. The future is going to require all of us to learn how to adapt and learn a different set of skills. Professor Kaplan is a world-renowned artificial intelligence expert and futurist. In addition to his many academic credentials, he’s one of the original Silicon Valley bros and a leader in tech innovation. As co-founder of Teknowledge, Inc. in the mid-1980s, Kaplan was one of the first to commercialize AI and make it available to enterprise. He’s also one of the seers predicting a mass extinction of jobs over the next 10 – 20 years.


The basis for this forecast is partially a numbers game. Automated systems simply do many jobs faster and with more precision than a team of people. If they wear out, we can just replace the parts. Advances in AI may even make robots self-sustaining. No sick days or loss of productivity there. Just cold, hard technology in action.


According to occupational research, the top five industries that have more than a 50 percent likelihood of being phased out by technology are:

∙ Hospitality and food services (73 percent) 
∙ Manufacturing (60 percent) 
∙ Transportation logistics and warehousing (60 percent) 
∙ Agriculture (60 percent) 
∙ Retail trade (57 percent) 


Notice that none of these occupations are forecast to reach 100 percent redundancy. Without fail, most innovations in technology create new jobs or enhance the quality of existing occupations. There will be fewer human workers necessary to achieve outcomes, and the nature of their jobs will change.

Technology will do the heavy lifting, freeing those individuals who adapt to excel in areas related to innovation and customer satisfaction. Tech advancements will also create new industries as demand increases among certain sectors. 

We’ve seen several examples of this ripple effect throughout history. Mass production may have put farmers and buggy makers out of business, but offered a better quality of life in the form of higher pay and shorter working hours. Higher incomes and more leisure time enabled by industrial progress created jobs related to travel and lifestyle enhancement.

Weaving technology put a lot of women out of work by increasing output, making cloth faster, and producing a more consistent quality. That reduced the price and increased the availability of fabrics, fostering the growth of industries that fed the demand.

“Will the robots be lining up to replace us?


Most jobs weren’t eliminated by technology, they were transformed. Sure, fewer workers were needed to fill demand in some areas, but the majority of workers experienced a change in how their jobs were performed rather than a loss of the job itself. Those able to evolve also saw an increase in income due to retraining and upgrading their skill levels.

Among the 270 occupations tracked since the 1950 U.S. census, 250 are still around, 32 saw decreased demand, and five were made obsolete by technology. There is only one job that ceased to exist except as a footnote to history: the elevator operator.


For the elevator operator, the job itself that was replaced by automation. There was no need for someone to manually line up the floor of the elevator car with the floor of the building. No longer did you need an experienced professional with the finesse to start or stop it smoothly and with precision.

Technology took care of that, and the last thing most of us needed was another person standing in the elevator.



Those of us who survived the Y2K Apocalypse remember the panic caused by two little digits, 00. Back in the primitive days of computer programming, memory was a precious commodity. There were no chips the size of a match head that could hold terabytes of information; we were dealing in mere megabytes.

In order to conserve memory, programmers truncated the year portion of dates to the last two digits.

As the 1990s drew to a close, someone realized that the majority of computer systems built before that time might not recognize the year “00” as a new century. Compliance wonks speculated that this confusion would lead to global systems failure and total chaos.

It would be the end of the world as we knew it. Everything from banking to national security would collapse into anarchy. Then-president Bill Clinton even introduced the Year 2000 Information and Readiness Disclosure Act to encourage companies to share readiness and tech information.

Billions were spent in an effort to ward off the impending annihilation. COBOL programmers were dragged out of mothballs by the scruff of their sweater vests to fix glitches that the new kids couldn’t fathom.


We all held hands and our collective breath as midnight approached and 1999 rolled into the new millennium. In the end, nothing happened. The systems were fine, and we were fine. Life becomes altered, but it goes on. There was one good thing that came out of the Y2K bug and ensuing compliance scramble. Like most viruses, it led to a mutation that ensured the survival of the species. The massive compliance overhaul and upgrades streamlined systems and created protocols that still benefit us to this day.


The current century is experiencing unprecedented technological advancement, which increases the danger of jobs obsolescence. As we near the mid-point toward 2050, there’s fear that more occupations will go the way of the elevator operator. However, history has shown us that for every job lost to progress, there are usually several more are created.

Automation optimists see opportunity where doomsayers see mass unemployment. Most agree that there will be an upheaval, but it will be a temporary one and can be overcome if individuals embrace a passion to change. 

The Cognizant Center for Future Work put out a guide to staying employed in the 21st century based on six elements that they believe remain universal about society.

1. The nature of work has always changed and shifted with the times, as demonstrated at key points in history. A few are winnowed out, but most adapt and evolve.

2. Most manual labor is awful, tedious, and dangerous. It’s best to leave such things to machines and spend our free time on more creative pursuits.

3. Machines needs us as much as we need them. They may be able to utilize machine learning, but who will create the software, build the hardware, and repair them? Who will handle the creative aspects of marketing or delivery?

4. Humans are curious by nature. Without the drudgery of repetitive, dead-end jobs, many of us will be free to explore and capitalize on our innate ingenuity.

5. Technology will improve our quality of life by improving services from banking to transportation. What will we do without all the time wasted commuting or standing in lines? Innovation in healthcare alone will allow us to live longer and stay healthier for as long as we live.

6. Technology will create almost as many problems as it solves initially. Remember the lessons in unintended consequences? Human intervention will still be needed to figure out what to do when adding A to B accidentally creates D instead of C.


The Center also constructed an interesting list of occupations that are likely to develop in the world of tomorrow, possibly within the next five years.

This list of 21 new occupations was compiled using current trends and forecasts in areas of macroeconomics, demographic shifts, politics, culture, business, and other factors. Considering a career change?

Look at training as a Data Detective, Financial Fitness Manager, Personal Memory Curator, or AI Business Developer.

Ten years ago, the job title “Social Media Coordinator” wasn’t a thing. No one was of the mind that they needed a social media platform specialist to help their company come to grips with MySpace relevance.

Now, Tom is irrelevant, Zuck is a billionaire, and a strong social media presence is essential for the future viability of most businesses.

Ten years ago, the job title “Social Media Coordinator” wasn’t a thing. No one was of the mind that they needed a social media platform specialist to help their company come to grips with MySpace relevance.

Even the nature of social media marketing and influence has shifted over the past few years with the emergence of formerly fluff-filled platforms like InstaGram as high-profile marketing vehicles.

“Become a super learner”


Advanced tech skills and media savvy will be essential in the world of tomorrow, but they won’t be enough. 

Remaining viable in whatever future we face has more to do with developing certain personality traits rather than technological prowess. With the advent of the gig economy and uncertainty about the stability of jobs, we are in a constant state of adaptation as it is. We’re constantly learning, unlearning, and relearning as our priorities and work environments shift.

Stay curious
Inquisitive people are interested in job innovation. They’re constantly looking for the next industry trend and take the time to learn it on their own. It’s the coal miner who learned about solar technology or the old-school programmer who stayed curious enough about coding to learn HTML. Those were the ones who were able to adapt and stay relevant.

Be courageous 
One thing that holds many of us back is fear. This is especially true of older people who have been on the job a long time. Their biggest fear is of becoming irrelevant and losing their job to the new hotshot. They may be intimidated by emerging technologies rather than filled with curiosity and a desire to adapt. When faced with the unfamiliar, have the courage to learn, to retrain, and ask questions. Rather than making you look inept or unqualified, it will demonstrate a willingness to evolve.

Pick and choose what’s important
It’s tempting to go overboard trying to pick up new skills, but that can become overwhelming. Instead, choose those elements that are most immediately critical, incorporate them, and then move on the next. It’s about understanding the short and long term implications of the automation revolution. 

Be agile and relentless
Knowledge isn’t going to come to you. It may take some training, but learn to spot opportunities and avoid pitfalls. When the landscape is shifting, agile minds are able to adapt and pivot.


Charles Darwin is commonly quoted as saying “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” 

The fact that Darwin never said this, makes it no less true.

What would happen if it all fell apart tomorrow? What if a giant solar flare wiped out all of this technology and we had to start from zero again? It happened once, in the 1800s, when we had a lot less to lose. While the Carrington Flare of 1859 shut down the Victorian internet, AKA telegraph systems, it didn’t end life as we knew it. It disrupted it and became an impetus for change. Would that be the case if the same thing happened within the next 20 years? Science puts the probability of such an event at 12 percent.

Those who will thrive in this new environment won’t be the ones sitting around lamenting the demise of robots anymore than survival now revolves around crying about their coming influence. Survivors will be the ones who are able to adapt to a new, more primitive landscape and devise solutions for moving forward. The most valuable commodity in any type of future environment will be knowledge. Those who come out on top will be the ones who know how to rebuild the infrastructure, rewire the systems, and get the machine up and running again.

Whether artificial intelligence reaches the levels predicted by researchers, business and tech experts, and optimistic sci-fi writers or it’s all wiped out in the flash of an electromagnetic pulse, one thing will never change: the key to survival is our adaptability.

We’ll always need thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers. The most creative and versatile among us will be the most relevant in the future of work.

What does the future for your job hold? Find out here…



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1 Comment

  1. passivity

    Ꮩery nice artiсle, totally what I needed.


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