Why Machines Won’t Displace Human Workers in the Knowledge Economy is a short thought experiment, in the spirit of all Noodles, which was in response to a post in Wired. In Here’s How to Keep the Robots From Stealing Our Jobs, John Hagel posited that a major rationale for the Knowledge Economy firm would be its role as a “knowledge platform” that enabled people to accelerate their learning and productivity. I highly recommend the post, which sparked many intelligent comments.
It’s obvious that many people are having difficulties imagining the world toward which we are hurtling, a world in which machines are getting “smarter” and able to “compete” for work roles that humans now do. In writing The Social Channel App, I thought long and hard about the Knowledge Economy and people’s roles in it, and its main thesis is that everything, from states and enterprises to people and products, will be differentiated in the Social Channel and that “humanness” will assume a much more visible importance in the economy.
Upgrading the Expert Role for the Knowledge Economy shows how knowledge workers can no longer seek refuge in their core expertise, and how to branch out.
“Experts” are regarded as the foremost authorities in their fields, the glib guru versions notwithstanding. An oft quoted maxim shows why: according to Malcolm Gladwell, for one, it takes 10,000 hours [of study, work] for most people to become expert in something.* On a related front, Naveen Jain posits that experts will be less likely to solve today’s toughest problems because their expertise has become a box around them. All those degrees or promotions within the organization have focused their minds but also closed out creativity. While commenting on his post, I realized that redefining the expert would be necessary in the Knowledge Economy, so here I’ll offer some strategies and tactics for how to practice being an “expert” in the 21st century.
Notably, we can take lessons from experts and apply them to specialists, which are arguably less far along on the same vector—and more common.