Readying our kids to compete with peers – humans and complex algorithms


An interesting (and later a bit scary) thought dawned upon my morning commute to drop my son to his bus stop. I was doing the usual concerned dad thing, inquiring him how he thought he was doing in his class relative to his peers. I was asking him about who his toughest peers were and what unique advantages they had in terms of intellectual (hard skills) and emotional (soft skills). I was after all trying to set some healthy competition in him and see how he evaluated his peers.

The conversation ended quickly with his drop, but it gradually hit me that by the time he joins the workforce, his peer competition will be humans and complex computer algorithms. In advanced college years, students are making significant time and economic investments in choosing courses that they are passionate about and that simultaneously have the best career outcomes.

A decade back the conversation in leading western economies was that simple, repetitive & low value work goes to developing nations—known as east economies. High value, complex, high touch, and high emotion work gets done in western leading economies, therefore student decisions a decade ago, were then driven by what humans in western world, can & cannot do compared to humans in eastern world.

In current state of global work force distribution, much of that skills delta is erased and arguably the playing field is leveled, but again we are comparing what can humans across different geographies can do, and associated demand-supply by geography.

In another decade or so, computer algorithms will be a formidable new addition to global work force choice. It is not a net new idea itself, but we will definitely have a new class of complex computer algorithms which can do highly complex, non-repetitive, predictive and emotionally aware work—something that has been forte of highly skilled, educated & judgment savvy experienced humans.

Channeling & inspiring kids to finish college and getting higher education is not enough. Career decisions of future need to be savvy to figure out what is that these new species of complex computer algorithms can’t do and hence humans will be still relevant (and needed).

Early school career’s counselling needs a massive upgrade—they seem to be focused on extracting what a student’s core passion and excellence lineage is and then based on that they map potential areas to build career in. Nothing wrong with starting with a student’s passion first; after all if you love what you do then work will not seem like work and one will a have fulfilling career, but then what you are passionate about should be still a relevant career choice available for humans and not taken over by complex computer algorithms.

One thought on “Readying our kids to compete with peers – humans and complex algorithms

  1. I agree to some points, however life is not fair even with all the best planning there is strong need to have diverse skills/capabilities rather being boxed into one that will limit the ability to survive in new age.

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