CNN recently published a piece on preparing for a 100-year life. It cited the rising proportion of people attaining age 100, coupled by low birth rates in some countries. There are some practicalities which governments will have to face – including providing care for the elderly and addressing corporate employment practices. Individuals will also need to consider long-term issues such as managing health and finances over these longer lifetimes.

The implications are even more profound when coupled with the notion of advancements in artificial intelligence. Indeed there is also the hypothesis of the technological singularity, which presupposes the invention of artificial super-intelligence (self-improving machines) changing human civilisation beyond recognition.

We are already experiencing shifts as technology reshapes societies as we know them. We don’t need to extrapolate far to acknowledge that many will be out of work as their jobs become automated. What does it mean for skills acquisition for continued relevance in the rapidly changing world of work? What does it mean for wage economies?

I came across a McKinsey report, “Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained”. Their major finding, having analysed various scenarios, was that while there may be enough work to maintain full employment to 2030 under most of these scenarios, we should expect the transitions to be challenging.
They indicate that 60% of occupations have more than 30% of activities that can be automated but that very few occupations (under 5%) have activities that can be fully automated.

Taking an optimistic view, we should not lose sight of the jobs that will be created as technology transforms our worlds. Among them are opportunities to be at the forefront of developing new technologies or indeed filling the rising demand for jobs in healthcare1 as 100-year lives become more commonplace. While artificial intelligence will improve productivity and
efficiency there will still be a need for many of us to change our occupations or to re-skill ourselves. There is certainly a need to keep ourselves informed and to be prepared to adapt to the emerging trends. The challenge is, in many ways, ours to seize.

1 McKinsey estimates that, globally, healthcare and related jobs from aging could grow by 50 million to 85 million by 2030.