Donald J. Trump has been President for a little over one month. He’s there because so many Americans are bitter about their lot in life. This is especially true in rural parts of the country where robots are automating the jobs people once held. I don’t blame them, but I DO challenge them to think differently about their OPPORTUNITY.
If you think about it, discontent amongst the working class is not surprising. Hardworking Americans like Chris Wade are pissed off that the American company he spent 13+ years working for laid him off and shifted operations to Mexico where they could pay someone $1/hr to do what they paid Chris $30/hr to do in America. He now spends his days shoveling snow and figuring out how to get by day-by-day. I’d be pretty pissed off if I were him too.
Chris’ story, however, is not unique to him…
Obama’s White House published a report in early January that painted a pretty dire picture for people like Chris:
- 83% of the jobs where people make less than $20 per hour will be subject to automation or replacement.
- Between 9% and 47% of jobs are in danger of being made irrelevant due to technological change, with the worst threats falling among the less educated.
- Between 2.2 and 3.1 million car, bus, and truck driving jobs in the US will be eliminated by the advent of self-driving vehicles.
Those are some crazy high numbers and they can be downright scary, depending on the lens through which you view them, which is the key point…
There will be some who look at numbers like these and blame the government for “letting technology advance to a point where it replaces human skill.” There will be others who look at these numbers optimistically, believing that “advances in technology will relieve humans of boring, brainless, menial work, thereby enabling them to focus on honing skills that computers cannot, such as creativity and emotional intelligence.”
Personally, I don’t understand why anyone would you want to waste their time doing something a computer can do, when they can instead focus on profiting from creativity, emotion, and personality.
According to the World Economic Forum, “robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans (yet)” and “emotional intelligence, which doesn’t feature in the top 10 [skills] today, will become one of the top skills needed by all [in 2020].”
You listening to that Trump voter who wants to go back into the coal mines? Your personality is your opportunity. Your creativity is your opportunity. Your emotion is your opportunity. Social media is your opportunity. Why limit yourself to hammering coal? You’re better than that…
Let’s take a look at the top 10 skills that could serve you well over the next 10 years…
Would ya look at that… There are, in fact, things we humans can do that robots cannot! REJOICE! EMBRACE! ADAPT!
And yet, so many of us are eager to see our President “Make America Great Again” by promising a return to the glory days of yore when the coal industry was booming and thousands of Americans were dying as a result.
Are you sure you’re not confusing “Make America Great Again” with “We’re scared of learning new things, so let’s just regress 20 years?”
Can I instead ask why you wouldn’t want to prepare for 20 years into the future? We are one of the most developed nations on earth. Why go backwards? Why not embrace the fact that you can Google things you don’t know and become an expert? Why not embrace the fact that you can easily and relatively cheaply sign up for a software programming class? Why not stop resisting technology, and start embracing it? You don’t need Donald Trump to “bring back coal jobs,” you need to realize that YOU can leverage the internet to REINVENT yourself.
Good at making shit? Create an Etsy store.
Love to drive? Uber/Lyft.
Passionate about something? Write about it and spread through social media.
Have some other passion that lights you up? Figure out a way to turn that into a business that brings you revenue. It’s really not as hard as you think. Here are some suggestions:
- LEARN TO CODE: The Valley employs only 8 percent of the nation’s coders. All the other millions? They’re not going to get fabulously rich, but their jobs are stable and rewarding: It’s 40 hours a week, well paid, and intellectually challenging.
- MOBILIZE IN YOUR COMMUNITY: In Kentucky, mining veteran Rusty Justice decided that code could replace coal. He cofounded Bit Source, a code shop that builds its workforce by retraining coal miners as programmers. Enthusiasm is sky high: Justice got 950 applications for his first 11 positions. Miners, it turns out, are accustomed to deep focus, team play, and working with complex engineering tech. “Coal miners are really technology workers who get dirty,” Justice says.
- SET HIGH EXPECTATIONS & USE YOUR BRAIN: “[Through technological advances] We can have more productivity, and more leisure time, and a higher quality of life, so we should look forward to automation. This is not some dire disaster. This is exciting and promising — machines that can do things that humans used to do. We can have more productivity, and more leisure time, and a higher quality of life, so we should look forward to automation. This is not some dire disaster. This is exciting and promising — machines that can do things that humans used to do. We’ve been at that for two centuries and we’ve had a big improvement of quality of life, of life expectancy, of leisure time, of retirement possibilities throughout that period, and this is another phase of that.”
- EMBRACE THE ROBOTS: We can have more productivity, and more leisure time, and a higher quality of life, so we should look forward to automation. This is not some dire disaster. This is exciting and promising — machines that can do things that humans used to do. We’ve been at that for two centuries and we’ve had a big improvement of quality of life, of life expectancy, of leisure time, of retirement possibilities throughout that period, and this is another phase of that.”
- IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ’EM, JOIN ’EM: As described by IBM data scientists, humans and machines will “need to collaborate to produce better results, each bringing their own superior skills to the partnership.” On the human side, people need to be trained for tasks computers cannot perform. This means prioritizing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
- FOCUS ON WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM THE MACHINES: no matter how advanced artificial intelligence becomes, some jobs are always likely to be better done by humans, notably those involving empathy or social interaction.
I wrote this post because I’m tired of hearing about how defeated Americans are. Americans don’t need government to “Make America Great Again.” We are not great because of the President. We are not great because of the 500+ Senators & Congressmen on Capitol Hill. We don’t need them. We are great because we have one, or many, of the following traits:
- WE ARE PERSEVERENT.
- WE ARE INTELLIGENT.
- WE ARE CREATIVE.
- WE POSSESS EMOTION
- WE LOOK FORWARD, NOT BACKWARDS.
- WE ARE HARDWORKING
- WE ARE ENTREPRENEURIAL
- WE ARE AMERICAN
We are also entering a new phase of evolution. It’s foreign to us, but it’s happening, whether we like it or not, and I would strongly encourage EVERY American to try and get used to it. We’re no longer meant to hammer, chisel, screw. We’re now meant to create, build, evolve. It’s time for us to get busy living or get busy dying.
Bottom line: please stop begging elected officials to provide you with things you can provide yourself better than they can. We live in a world where the sky is the limit and you just need to seize it. To hell with government and all the rest. You do you. Work hard. Be genuine. Win.