There is a systemic problem with our society losing living-wage unskilled labor opportunities. Some shout that corporations send these jobs over-seas. Wrong. Hardliners demonize illegal immigrants because, they take away these opportunities. Nope. So, why are the candidates not sharing the real reason we're losing jobs in America? It's complicated. Read along to find out.

There have been numerous studies on the "Singularity" of computing power, and this year the discussion will likely grow louder as we begin to see early examples of it taking off. This post explores how exponential technologies coupled with slipping education standards are creating a labor-income gap, and what we can do to address it.

This post is also Part 2 of my A.I. Stepping into Life Series, where I'll share thoughts on how the progress of computing is likely to impact human labor, the economy, and possibly life as we know it.

Part 1: We Are Masters
Part 2: Becoming Shepherds To Save Our Careers
Part 3: How Teachers Become Students
Part 4: A New Peer to Peer Network
Part 5: Partners In Time
Part 6: The Divergence

These are merely thoughts I've gathered along with those of many experts, to help spark your own ideas on the impact A.I. may have on your career. Sound fair? OK, let's watch this TED Talk to discover the labor challenges we are currently facing...

So what is Mr. McAfee getting at? To put it simply, Bill & Ted are no longer having an "excellent adventure". While Ted maintains a middle-class life, Bill's life is falling apart! Furthermore, his opportunities for unskilled labor will only continue to decrease.

Why is this happening to Bill? Off-shoring? Illegals? Nope. It's due in-part to Bill's education and in-part to technological advancement. Remember dial-up internet in 1996? What about cell phones so bulky they didn't fit in your pocket? Technology has progressed at incredible pace over the last 20 years.  In fact that pace will only speed up. For Bill, keeping up, let alone hanging on may be more difficult than you think!

"In an automated, global economy, kids needed to be driven. They needed to know how to adapt, since they would be doing it all their lives."  - Amanda Ripley, from her book: The Smartest Kids in the World

While Bill's parents yelled at teachers because he was failing tests, his teachers yelled at the school board because they didn't have resources to teach. The school board in turn yelled at politicians to ease standards, and Bill slid through the cracks.

Cracks that technology is opening so fast, unless Bill rigorously educates himself, he'll continue down this slippery slope of unemployability. Surprisingly, this pattern may start to climb the income ladder...

2016 is a big year.

This year marks the end of an era where humans need to be "masters" over every aspect of computational learning.  2016 is also the inaugural year of a climb to what will likely be an economic tipping point. Due in-part, to a convergence of exponential technologies (autonomous vehicles, robotics, etc).

The chart above showcases the trajectory of super computing power over the next 14 years. Disruptive technologies will create a bounty in terms of efficiency and low-cost labor. They will also continue a spread in the earning power of laborers across various industries. You wan't examples? I give you examples:

  1. Kensho, is already replacing the work of hundreds of financial analysts
  2. Farming robots are being developed to replace low-wage labor
  3. Daimler is planning on rolling out autonomous freight liners to replace truck drivers

Addressing the coming challenges.

Here is where my radical ideas and experience in recruiting & talent development kick in. Becoming "shepherds" of these converging exponential technologies will allow our citizenry to keep up and race with machines, rather than against them. What do I mean by shepherd? Here's an example with Bill:

  • It may be cheaper to replace Bill with an autonomous truck
  • Unforeseen challenges may arise though, and by itself the autonomous truck may not be as effective as Bill
  • If you train Bill to manage a small fleet of autonomous trucks, you will now have a savvy human who can effectively manage unforeseen challenges, and cheap autonomous trucks carrying goods at a fraction of the cost of human drivers
  • Game-set-match! Bill is a truck-shepherd 

Read how doctors are using IBM's Watson to become medical-shepherds of technology:

IBM's Watson Supercomputer to Help Doctors Making More Accurate Treatment Plans

IBM's Watson Supercomputer to Help Doctors Making More Accurate Treatment Plans

Professor Robert L. Routhieaux once shared this advice with me; a good manager thinks in one/two year increments, and a good CEO thinks in five/ten year increments. So here's my challenge to you: as recruiters, managers, and executives, how might you address this issue? What would you do with a larger labor market? In what way is your business ripe for disruption? In what ways could your workforce become "shepherds" of new technologies?

We're just getting started folks. In my upcoming post, I'll discuss this breaking point further along with the next stage of the new machine age. We'll also dive deeper into the value of becoming a student now, so you can teach others to race with machines later.

At this point if this is still review for you, then you my friend are ahead of the curve. Everyone else, it's time to catch up! (If you didn't notice yet, you can click the highlighted words above for interesting articles and background on this topic.) 

Lastly, I understand these are grand claims and I may be off-base. However, for those of you who still doubt the voracity of these circumstances; one need only look back to look forward(Click here to read part 3)

Want to learn about how machine learning is evolving to impact the future of your career? Find more at

Learn more about future-proofing your career in my next series:

Future-proofing Your Career

Follow me on Twitter: @zacengler

Original content © Zac Engler, 3/8/2016