5 Challenges for the Next Economy

5 challenges for the next economy

A world of ubiquitous technology is here, we have to accept it. How? Understand that there’s no stopping the push of technology into our lives. There are many emerging technologies that will drive the Next Economy, creating the industries and jobs of the future.

The utopian view is all of this technology will result in better outcomes for society, but every transition has challenges that have to be overcome before we experience those better outcomes.

Here are a few I’m thinking about:

Automation. What’s our role when robots can do our jobs better?

It’s a fact that technology makes jobs obsolete, but it also creates new ones. Many people are nervous about how A.I. will play out, rightfully so. Unless you’re steeped in technology, A.I. only exist in movies, comics and video games. But, A.I.’s potential for automation is real; the White House predicts that 83% of workers who make less than $20 an hour are likely to be replaced by robots.

Basically if you can describe your job, it can be automated. If a routine task can be performed cheaper, faster and better by a robot, there is a chance it will be. A.I. will push us to specialize in our competitive advantages: more “human” work, creative and social intelligence, interpersonal and non-routine tasks are what makes us resilient and adaptive to change.

With that said, A.I. is nowhere near its promised capability of being smarter than humans, yet, it’s a transition that will happen in phases; nonetheless we have to discuss and prepare for a future without work.

Inequality. What about the people who don’t benefit from technology?

Om Malik penned a thought provoking article on the New Yorker on how Silicon Valley is alienating the undeveloped parts of society, the people who are not benefiting from technology; starting in the U.S.A.. He calls it an empathy vacuum:

Silicon Valley’s biggest failing is not poor marketing of its products, or follow-through on promises, but, rather, the distinct lack of empathy for those whose lives are disturbed by its technological wizardry.

Technology changes and affects lives, we feel it in places like Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, New York, and other cities where we live in a bubble of convenience. But as we race to create the future we don’t stop to think about the rest of the world: only the well off people experience the better outcomes that come from technology, but not the rest.

Education. How might education need to change to create better humans?

I don’t have children, but lightning can strike at any time. Education is something I’m deeply worried about for the next generation, who want to avoid being called the “useless class”.

Universities have never been able to keep up with the demands of change because corporations hire for comfort and predictability; not for change. Conformity is the norm. We can’t go on like this, its a joke how education works today.

Though the internet has existed for over two decades, industries are just catching up. Digital transformation is a real thing, it’s not a nice sounding visionary strategy that was thought of inside a popular business school by a leading academic; corporations and education institutions are just waking up to this reality.

The leaders of tomorrow Education is no longer about getting a diploma to get a job, it’s about lifelong learning.

Privacy and Security. How do we balance transparency with privacy?

Just over a month ago one of the biggest cyberattacks ever happened, and the method was unlike any other used before: mass use of internet connected cameras.

When every person and object is connected to the internet, opportunities for mischief abound. It’s no coincidence there’s high demand for cybersecurity related jobs but there’s a huge shortage of talent to fill those jobs; we’ve never lived in a world like this before.

Dependence. Are we too dependent on technology?

All of the above has to do with technology. It’s a great enabler, but it also makes us slaves to it; some may even become more dumb. Humans like comfort, routine and predictability; an A.I. dominated economy is one of efficiency.

What guarantees do we have that by being more efficient we’ll make use of our non-A.I. automated abilities like creativity? Also, should we trust technology?


There you go, these are the challenges I’m thinking about. Climate change is another challenge I’m thinking about, but I’ll leave that for another post. How about you, what challenges do you see for the Next Economy?