Technology is increasing exponentially. The changes you have seen in the past 20 years will not compare to the changes you will see in the next 20. It’s predicted that we won’t just see 100 years of progress in the 21st century; it will be more like 20,000 years of progress.
With advances in technology, come changes in jobs. The World Economic Forum predicts that improvements in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, nanotechnology and 3D printing will lead to 7.1 million jobs being lost, versus just 2 million gained by 2020.
Will you as a soloist be among the 7.1 million lost?
It’s impossible to predict.We should however, be aware of advancements in our industry. Adapt or die, right?
Let’s take a look at two broad industries: Retail and Writing.
While there are plenty of other industries (think self-driving cars and robots checking you into hotels), I’ve kept this article to the two industries I have experience in.
Do you sell products online or offline? Do you manufacture products? This section is for you.
Like many soloists I’ve tried (and failed in) many ventures. In the previous two years I started two e-commerce stores. I’ve subsequently sold both stores and the advances in technology have me seriously questioning if I’ll ever start a third. While there will be plenty of factors affecting the retail industry in the years ahead, perhaps the most fascinating is 3D printing.
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3D printing is the process of printing, layer-by-layer three-dimensional objects based on a digital template. 3D printers can now print in full colour and in over 250 materials including titanium, plastic, rubber, glass, ceramic, leather and even chocolate. If you have the right materials and the right template, you can print almost anything.
- Working guns
- High heels
- Jet engines
- Camera lenses
- Figurines from your child’s drawings
- Decorative furniture
- Medical devices and prosthetics
- Coffee cups
A Japanese company will even use your ultrasound to print out a 3D model of your fetus. Crazy, right?
Peter Diamandis, CEO of XPrize recently issued this warning:
“If you or your customers are in the business of making anything, 3D printing is on the road to disrupting your industry and your business.”
Imagine you wanted a new shirt. You could drive to the shops and buy one. You could order one online and wait for it to arrive. Or, you could print your own.
“Fashion is going to be disrupted in a big way. Through the combination of scanning, digitising, computing, sensing, active performance monitoring, and mixed materials, we will be able to print fully functional clothing and wearable devices.”
“Shoes will be tailor-made based on your posture, your stance, and your arch. Accessories will be customisable and immediately printable. Everything will be perfectly designed to fit your body.You’ll be able to see a beautiful new dress designed in Paris that morning, buy it, and print it in your closet to wear that evening.”
While the above example pertains to fashion items, it can be applied to many retail sectors.
As 3D printers continue their exponential growth – becoming more affordable, faster and more easy to use – people will be able to create anything they want, at any time they want.
Still not convinced? OLO have just raised over 2 million dollars via Kickstarter to create the first ever Smartphone 3D printer.
When every household has a 3D printer and all they need to do is download a file, will they still buy from your business?
Are you a journalist, editor, copywriter, or blogger? This section is for you.
When you think about robots taking over jobs, I bet writing jobs aren’t at the top of your list. Perhaps you should think again. Why?
- A Japanese Artificial Intelligence Machine has just written a novel that passed the first round for a literary prize.
- Valentin Kassarnig at the University of Massachusetts has created an AI machine that has learned how to write political speeches that come very close to the real thing.
While I like to hold on to the idea that human thought will always be required, the exponential improvements in AI hav definitely left me thinking that my job as a Copywriter may not exist in the years to come.
Industries have always changed and always will. Hopefully this article has given you reason to pause and ask the following:
Will advances in technology have major impacts to my business?