Future of work

Why automation is more than just a job killer

Benedict Dellot – RSA

You can find an estimate for the impact of automation on jobs to support more or less any prior opinion you happen to hold. Apparently sensible forecasts from apparently respectable organisations range from the benign to the apocalyptic. One reason why it can be hard to make sense of that is that different factors – some potentially with opposite effects – can get bundled together into an agglomeration of technologies in an agglomeration of sectors and contexts having an agglomeration of effects. Disentangling any of that then becomes next to impossible

This useful short post separates out four different forms of automation, briefly explaining the employment impact of each. That doesn’t magically give us a single number which is somehow better than all the other single numbers. But it does provide a framework for understanding and debating all the other single numbers.

Data and AI

7 Steps to Data Transformation

Edwina Dunn – Starcount

Edwina Dunn is one of the pioneers of data science and this short paper is the distillation of more than twenty years’ experience of using meticulous data analysis to understand and respond to customers – most famously in the form of the Tesco Clubcard. It is worth reading both for some pithy insights – data is art as well as science – and, more unexpectedly, for what feels like a slightly dated approach. “Data is the new oil” may be true in the sense that is a transformational opportunity, with Zuckerberg as the new Rockefeller, but data is not finite, it is not destroyed by use and it is not fungible. More tellingly she makes the point that ‘Owning the customer is not a junior or technical role; it’s one of the most important differentiators of future winners and losers.’ You can see what she means, but shopping at a supermarket is not supposed to be a form of slavery, still less so (if that were possible) is that a good way of thinking about the users of public services.

It doesn’t sound as though the Cluetrain Manifesto has been a major influence on this school of thought. Perhaps it should be.