Issue #19: 13 books on work & innovation
My handpicked "collection of wisdom"
Headlines you shouldn’t miss
IEEE SPECTRUM An Inconvenient Truth About AI > AI won't surpass human intelligence anytime soon: Rodney Brooks, Professor of Robotics, argues that artificial intelligence has “tricked” humans into doing certain tasks, and the development doesn’t show signs of becoming independent soon. So far, all significant deployments have required human interaction as they pose a risk of making wrong decisions.
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW AI Adoption Skyrocketed Over the Last 18 Months: Several business studies indicate that during Covid, artificial intelligence has been becoming a mainstream technology. It tackles labor shortages, boosts productivity, and can solve supply chain challenges caused by global lockdowns.
ZDNET Honda prepping AI robots, inter-city electric air travel and lunar technology for 2030: Car manufacturer Honda unveiled its vision for the future on Thursday. It’s expanding its scope and gradually seeks to move beyond car technology to become a tech and mobility corporation. The plans include developing avatar robots and dipping into space travel.
FORBES Beware Professional Services Workers: Robots Are Coming For Your Job Too! According to a study by McKinsey, 45 million workers could be displaced by 2030. Machine learning provides many opportunities to automate repetitive and mundane tasks in white-collar jobs. Sectors like accounting and law could be disrupted by technological progress, and business leaders must understand the risks and implications of artificial technology.
THE DRUM There’s a 50% chance your job will be automated. Why acting more human will protect you: Jeff Tan, Innovation Solutions Officer at Dentsu International, suggests that workers focus on their human skills to become automation-proof. While automation poses a real threat to displace many workers, the labor force must shift to those traits and abilities that create more value to other humans.
WALL STREET JOURNAL Robots Take Over Italy’s Vineyards as Wineries Struggle With Covid-19 Worker Shortages: Italian winemakers have increasingly relied on migrant workers for the autumn harvest, but travel restrictions and soaring wage costs are pushing many to turn to machines.
3 Things to Be Concerned About
Deepfakes: A couple of months ago, news about a new startup called Synthesia showed that deepfakes could be used in business. The startup promised to ease the pitching process by deploying deepfake avatars to presentations that could speak in any language and create a better impression on remote presentations. However, one of the oldest concerns related to deepfakes seems to become a reality: Evidence suggests that deepfake porn is increasingly growing, with roughly an estimate of 90 percent to happen without consent.
Labor shortage and wages: Warehouse workers in the UK can expect growing wages due to the lack of labor force, with thousands of workers missing in the wake of Brexit. In theory, consumers should notice higher prices to balance out the higher wages. It remains to be seen how the market responds.
AI and war: Modern warfare is becoming increasingly digital. AI and autonomous systems could lead future wars. Experts debate on the implications.
My 13 book recommendations on work and innovation
Hand, Head and Heart by David Goodhart: Why is knowledge work considered more valuable than manual and care work in many Western societies? Goodheart argues for a shift of perspective and more respect for blue and pink-collar workers.
Deep Work by Cal Newport: You can’t seem to get things done at work? Maybe it’s because you’re constantly distracted by Slack, Teams, e-mails, and phone calls. Newport argues that we should embark on “deep work” instead of wasting more time.
The Job by Ellen Ruppel Shell: What happened after the Great Recession? People lost their jobs and were forced to search for better opportunities. Atlantic writer Ellen Ruppel Shell describes how people coped with finding a job and a better, humane work-life.
Nine Lies About Work by Ashley Goodall & Marcus Buckingham: A good guide for team leaders on motivation, feedback, and myths about modern knowledge work.
Range by David Epstein: You don’t need to be a specialist to succeed, argues David Epstein. He illustrates how success comes later in life for many people with a wide range of interests when they combine the insights they gained from the array of professional experience.
Bullsh*t Jobs by David Graeber: Late anthropologist David Graeber wrote a wake-up call. There are too many jobs that are meaningless, draining, and don’t create value. A sharp look at the labor market and how it’s crushing workers.
Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan: Why are so many companies organized in an old-fashioned way? Rigid hierarchies, long meetings without engagement. Business expert Dignan proposes a new way to organize work, which is more efficient and dynamic.
Not Working — Where Have All the Good Jobs Gone? By David G. Blanchflower: This book analyzes why it seems that the traditional middle-class jobs are disappearing — and more and more people end up underemployed in low-skilled jobs.
Tech & Innovation
Artificial Intelligence — A Guide for Thinking Humans by Melanie Mitchell: Computer science professor Melanie Mitchell explains all the basics you need to know about AI — how it started, what we mean by it, where the limitations lie. It helped me a lot to differentiate between the hype and actual progress.
AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee: Thought-provoking and easy to read: Lee illustrates how China has been emerging as a global AI leader and how this may change the geopolitical power dynamics between the West and Asia. Additionally, he portrays how AI could make our lives better.
The Future is Faster Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis & Steven Kotler: Machine learning, quantum computing, 3D printing, VR & AR have made massive leaps in recent years. This book takes you on a visionary ride through all the new possibilities of the future.
If-Then by Jill Lepore: Do you remember Cambridge Analytica and the fear that it helped manipulate the 2016 US elections? It’s not the first time. Jill Lepore wrote a detailed book about the Simulmatics Corporation in the 1960s and their attempts to shift elections with the help of the “people machine.”
AI 2041 by Kai-Fu Lee & Chen Qiufan: How will AI change the world in the next 20 years? A collection of visions and ideas for our near future.
Lecture of the week: David Autor on the future of work
Where do jobs emerge? Why are there still so many jobs despite decades of technology? And how does technology change the labor market? MIT scholar David Autor spoke at the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis on these questions. Check his lecture for free: CPB Lecture 2021 "De toekomst van werk" | CPB.nl