Automation, artificial intelligence and robotics keep cropping up in discussions, conferences and speaking engagements the Oilholic least expects them to these days – from trading seminars to oil and gas congresses, economics forums to academic debates.
The energy industry talks of connected plants, exploration and production firms talk of advanced robotics, refineries and downstream companies send drones out to monitor facilities and traders fret over algorithms replacing them.
So is this ‘Robocalypse’ or ‘Robotopia’? This blogger’s close industry colleague, friend and renowned economist Jason Schenker says mankind is somewhere in between, and has attempted to address the information gap via his book Jobs for robots: Between Robocalypse and Robotopia; a most impressive narrative summing up the tremendous opportunities as well as significant threats the future holds with a healthy infusion of pragmatism, analysis, wit and humour.
The tone of this book, of just under 200 pages split by nine engaging chapters, is neither alarmist nor utopian about the fourth industrial revolution that's underpinned by technology or 'Industry 4.0' as some prefer to call it.
What the author is attempting to do is review the way forward – that is unquestionably fraught with challenges – and see how we can prepare ourselves, bridge the gap, especially the skills gap, between the rapidly evolving present and the imminent future.
In parts, the narrative is blunt because it needs to be. Some jobs that exist today, will most likely disappear tomorrow. This isn’t something new, as the author points out. Past industrial revolutions led to millions of jobs disappearing, but also led to the creation of newer ones. Industry 4.0, Schenker stresses, will be no different with downsides and upsides.
It’s how we embrace the upside and mitigate the downside via education, reforms and re-skilling so that individuals and society can reap the benefits from the upcoming age is what it’s all about. My overriding impression upon reading the book is that its for everyone. Afterall, it is discussing the future and how we should gear up for it – and that’s something that concerns everyone.
What is so brilliant about Schenker’s work is that its part analysis, part historical perspective, part futuristic, part career advice and part financial planner. And the sum of all parts makes it among the most informative and engaging works on future planning out there in the market, written in free-flowing simple language that would appeal to as diverse a readership base the Oilholic can possibly imagine.
This blogger immensely enjoyed Schenker’s book and is happy to recommend it to fellow beings eyeing what the future holds for us, and how we need to embrace and prepare for it.
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© Gaurav Sharma 2017. Photo: Front Cover - Jobs for robots: Between Robocalypse and Robotopia by Jason Schenker © Prestige Professional Pulishing