Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made some comments about technology jobs that we found very interesting. His Year of Travel challenge, where he’s visiting all the U.S. states that he’s never been to, took him to Oklahoma’s wind farms, from where he posted this (this is a small excerpt from his post):
“A lot of people focus on whether technology creates or destroys jobs. I’ve seen both this year –improving tech has created more jobs in some industries and in others it has eliminated jobs. But perhaps the more common dynamic I’ve seen is that the number of jobs stays about the same, but in order to operate the increasingly advanced technology, people need more training and therefore get more pay.”
Taken out of context, it might not make much sense, but Zuckerberg was referring specifically to the wind energy community where he was visiting, many of whom had “gone to special training programs to get these higher paying jobs.”
That makes more sense now that it’s in the context of technology workers upgrading their skills and deserving more pay. Now you can read the whole thing, and then get back to our train of thought here. Don’t take too long – it leaves in a few minutes!
The truth is, this ability to adapt to changing situations is not controlled by technology at all: it is controlled by technology workers – or any type of worker, for that matter. Anyone can choose to upgrade their skills to get paid more, and that points to a very viable solution to technology eliminating more and more jobs as we progress into the age of artificial intelligence.
In several articles in the past, I’ve been an advocate of the belief that disruption is a natural part of any gainful employment. But rather than see it from a negative viewpoint, I challenge you to look at the possibilities.
And that’s the point Zuckerberg has, perhaps unknowingly, made with that statement. The only way we can prevent job loss from technology, automation, AI and other emerging trends is to be ready with a Plan B all the time, not just when the going gets bad. Most often, we won’t have time to prepare a Plan B after Plan A goes awry.
Again, it’s up to employees to take the initiative and educate or re-educate themselves in anticipation of disruptive forces. It’s not the company’s responsibility, although many do encourage, support and even subsidize it. And it’s certainly not the government’s fault, which is usually the most convenient of scapegoats to take the fall for our troubles.
I say NO. And to quote the legendary Robert Plant of iconic British rock band Led Zeppelin, it’s “nobody’s fault but mine.” If I’m not prepared for a disruption, then I’m too ensconced in my comfort zone. Growth always requires a shedding off of what we’re used to, and we better get used to it because it’s going to happen over and over again.