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Students being prepared for jobs that no longer exist – how that could change (nbcnews.com)
74 points by pmcpinto 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 54 comments

Funny, I was talking to my parents recently about how they were told basically the same thing when I was in high school (let's just say over 20 years ago). "Your kids will have jobs that haven't even been invented yet!"

That turned out to be somewhat true, especially if you get really specific. I have worked on drone and SSD hardware, two things that didn't exist when I was in high school. In general though, that stuff is not that crazy and new, core math, electrical engineering, and software skills are still the same.

I suppose jobs like "self driving car backup driver" and "Bitcoin miner" are a little more out there :-)

Coming from a long line of miner families from my father's side (my hundreds of times great great parents used to be dwarven miners some time before the defeat of the Sauron) I must say the concept of Bitcoin and gold mining are not that different. It is just the tools which have changed.

> Critics say high schools aren’t doing enough to prepare young people for life after graduation, in-demand jobs and a pathway to the middle class.

Maybe there is no "pathway to the middle class". Because the middle class is disappearing.

Yet the lower class (for however nebluous a definition "classes" are) is shrinking or staying the same.

So...seems like a great trend to me. Right?

Yes, I've read that. But the lower-middle distinction has always been a fuzzy one. And definitions have been changing. What it means to be "middle class" now is far from what it was some decades ago. And more importantly, such measures as CPI have been tweaked to exclude items that have become more expensive. So the middle class, in any quality-of-life sense, is arguably smaller than claimed.

The clearest trend is the growth of the upper middle class and the "1%". And increasing concentration of wealth at the top. Also increasing unemployment, which is excluded from the nominal definition, because people have given up looking for work.

Curious, by which metrics?

Much of the world still does not have basic physical world needs being met (air, sustenance, clothing/shelter, sleep). Heck, a lot of America still doesn't have those needs met. Many of the jobs, and much of the money can still be made by tackling them. And its relativistic, so you can always make "better" versions too. Sure, automation is reducing them, but clever people can tackle how to build a better house, grow food more economically, ect... and employ people while they're doing it.

Safety / security needs (personal, financial, health). Tons of money and jobs here too. Much of America is floating in this zone and needs these services or better versions. Much of the world barely has them. The current health care system (in America) is atrocious and vastly overpriced, smart folks like Buffet are rightly pushing into that space.

Social needs (family, friendship, intimacy, esteem). Vast amounts of money / jobs, and tons of room for innovation. People need real versions of these, not virtual software things. Ways to actually meet new friends - in the physical world. To find intimacy in natural ways. To feel like they actually have a family instead of being increasingly isolated. (I say this as I type alone on a computer at a coffeeshop...)

I won't even cover actualization and transcendence. I suspect such a small percent of the world could even describe what that it means to fully realize themselves that if you can make a job out of it, you're set.

Short version - hand wringing is silly. What do people actually need? There are future jobs and money.

Needs don't create jobs, economic demand creates them - and the big difference between a need, necessity or desire versus economic demand is the ability to afford that good or service.

If people can't afford basic physical needs, then that's going to create jobs only if these people somehow get extra resources for that. The current job trends won't do that, they're likely going to make it worse for those people that can't afford basic needs - either it's going to be solved by some major politic-economic intervention redistributing resources (UBI being one of multiple possibilities) or it's not going to happen and those needs will stay unmet.

It’s economic cause and effect. The economy is optimised as a wealth capture machine for the proverbial 1%, not as a goods, services, and opportunity machine for the 99% - all while being sold to the 99% as the exact thing it isn’t.

A truly entrepreneurial economy optimised to allow those with limited social and economic capital the opportunity to start and run successful businesses would look very different. It might even make articles like this one unnecessary.

From the article: She hates school. “Elementary school: hated it,” Amber says. “Middle school: h-a-t-e-d it. School just isn’t for me. I hate coming to school. I hate waking up early. I hate homework.”

Amber envisions a comfortable future that includes a family, a modern-yet-rustic house and a good job, maybe as a business owner

Hmmmm. Not sure that much can be done, or should be done, to help lazy unmotivated people with unrealistic expectations.

A Jack Handy deep thought applies here:

  It's easy to sit there and say you'd like to have more money.
  And I guess that's what I like about it.
  It's easy.
  Just sitting there, rocking back and forth, wanting that money. 
[0] - http://snltranscripts.jt.org/93/93ddeep1.phtml

I'm not sure how you got that impression from this article. We don't learn very much about Amber, but nothing in there seems to suggest that she's unable or unwilling to work as hard as anybody else to achieve her dreams, merely that school doesn't offer any options which are appealing to her. I think it's very disingenuous to suggest that any paths which are not supported in current schools are "lazy and unmotivated".

It's a story so common as to be a trope in media for the school dropout to end up going on to great things once they find an avenue for their enthusiasm, and the article hints that Amber may be finding something like that in her culinary work.

How, then, is this meaningfully different from typically well-recieved stories about teenagers who don't get on with school but are enthusiastic engineers or programmers? The specific path is different, but the story is the same. Why should one be interpreted as "potentially the next Bill Gates" and the other as "lazy unmotivated"?

Look, your own personal experiences with not liking waking up early aren't unique to you. I hate waking up early too, and also hated homework. But I did them.

I hate merge conflicts and code reviews but I do them.

The ability to delay gratification is a core element of success. Period.

> I hate waking up early.

I've never seen a school start earlier than 8:15am.

8:15am is pretty darn early for an every day start. I know that personally I find starting work even at 9am less than ideal, and so shift those hours forward. You can't do that with school for obvious reasons, but that doesn't mean people who aren't morning people are lazy and unmotivated.

> 8:15am is pretty darn early for an every day start.


That's less than 4 hours before noon....

Most americans[1] are awake by 6:30am. If you sleep past 7:30am you are in the last 1 out of 6.

[1] http://www.edisonresearch.com/wake-me-up-series-2/

Okay? 8:15am is the start of _a school day_, not the point at which a student wakes up. That's significantly earlier than the average work day, and nobody suggested the average worker woke at 9am.

Are we just assuming students don't have commute times here? That isn't true for a _lot_ of people.

My 11th grader's high school starts at 7:10AM

Maybe school shouldn't suck?

Maybe jobs shouldn't suck too?

> Hmmmm. Not sure that much can be done, or should be done, to help lazy unmotivated people with unrealistic expectations.

Of course high school students have incomplete and partly unrealistic wishes and expectations. There's so much to learn still -- it really requires some time to fully grasp how society functions.

Furthermore, it's deeply unfair to label someone as lazy if they don't fit the normal school mold. People learn differently, and thrive in different jobs and skills. If you read the article in full, you'll notice she now has an after-school job which she loves. That sounds like a great start to me.

Waking up early is harder for kids, and there's no particularly good evidence in favor of homework. These are perfectly valid complaints.

These aren't technology problems, they are social and political problems.

> To feel like they actually have a family instead of being increasingly isolated.

There is no app for that, and I don't know if there should be.

Sorry, I think I read your message completely wrong - I take this back.

It sounds like you're arguing that in fixing these social problems more jobs will be created - I originally thought you wanted to "disrupt" these fields using tech.

The truism these days is that you are either taking care of people, making software, or being replaced by software.

Is there really such a thing as a “future proof” job?

Engineering - There is always room for improvement and invention

Medicine - People always need care

Education - People always need to learn

Government - There's always government

Law Enforcement - Crime isn't likely to disappear in the foreseeable future

While the amount of jobs may vary, there are lots of areas of society that are not going to just disappear.

>While the amount of jobs may vary

This is the important snippet. One engineer today can do the work of many engineers of yesteryear. One doctor today can be more productive than several were twenty years prior, and with MI techniques improving continuously that isn't looking to slow down at all. Educators have more tools available to them today than they ever have, and while I don't know if they've become more productive because of it it certainly seems to be helping squeeze budgets ever-tighter.

For government workers, there's many sub-groups who feel the same squeeze. Administrative work can be made vastly more efficient through software. Legal work can be sped up tremensouly by automating much of the grunt work.

Police armed with better tools, better information gathering, and better technology can serve more people with fewer officers, though again in this case it mostly seems to be serving to let budgets drop continuously.

It'll be a while until any of these areas are _automated_, but that doesn't mean that we need as many people working in them today as we would have ten years ago to achieve the same goals.

Teaching jobs have decreased where I live, and are paid lower than they were, despite an increasing population of children.

One reason is technology - not all education tasks can be replaced, but some have been already. Combine that with increased competition for jobs generally, and I don’t see education careers being future-proof.

"Medicine - People always need care"

The demographics of baby boomers vs subsequent generations seem to confirm this one as an employment growth area for the US.

I found it laughable they think lawyers are robot proof.

I don't. They'll just pass a law to make robot lawyers illegal. Rent seeking can be a powerful force against automation.

It will play out like H&R Block in accounting. One firm will aggressively automate most procedural, standard advisory and contract law, undercutting the rest. They will be joined by others for the race to the bottom. The beginnings already exist. https://medium.com/legal-tech/legal-tech-startups-9755b18f93...

PS. Any legal firm without a strategy here can hire me (at lawyer rates) to tell them how to get with the program. ;)

And yet TurboTax exists.

Why did no one pass a law against "robot accountants"?

> They'll just pass a law to make robot lawyers illegal.

You make that sound like a bad thing.

God knows humans fuck a lot of things up. And a lot of legal professions are mostly busywork, which I assume AI can help with. But allowing machines to literally rule us is a long, long way from a good idea, and that's essentially what will happen if you let AI take over e.g. trial lawyering.

Indeed. I know a couple of people who have transitioned from programmers to lawyers and they say, a contract is just a program you run on a courtroom, the judge is the CPU.

Sounds straightforward for the Bar association and lawmakers to not allow software to practice law. What profession are lawmakers typically? Lawyers.

Some careers will be automated away, except for the ones that can’t be or those that aren’t allowed to by cabals.

Lawyers can't be literally replaced by robots.

No, what will instead happen is that a lawyer will be given tools that will allow them to be 100% more efficient on their own, thereby reducing the available jobs by 50%.

Even something as simple as improved search tools makes researching much quicker, which is an important part of their job.

That’s one way it could play out. Another way is that these tools that make lawyers more efficient increase the amount of legal work that takes place unnecessarily, extracting more dollars from the economy that the profession otherwise would.

Loved the essay! Thank you for sharing!

Maybe the courts won't be so backlogged, and public defenders so overworked, and we could give more people fair trials instead of pushing so hard for a guilty plea.

They can always just cut public funding more and restore the status quo. It's not like their current lack of funds is because we are literally out of money, it's because they're not a priority.

I think the biggest issue with lawyers getting automated is torts and court litigations or other pieces of legal work not to do with generating or reviewing contracts that can be automated quite easily which would mean no need for a human judge or adjudicator and thus a robot adjudicator who blindly follows a law written by "robots" too?

Note: I believe there won't be a need for human judges because robots tend to follow deterministic patterns much easily than non-deterministic, and thus you would probably not need humans to do much judging, displacing humans and turning to robots.

Law is a buggy, occasionally self-contradictory program intended to be executed by humans. If robot judges become a thing, we can be pretty sure all of the human programmers have been replaced already.

I'm reminded of the one Trek episode where Kirk is on trial, because the computer is never wrong. It was of course, because it had garbage input. But really, you gotta love UX where the VENT ATMO button is right next to the SKIP TRACK button.


The history of humanity will be documented by the superior beings that succeed us.

Shame no one wants to pay for that skill set.

People prefer to think their ideas are new and haven't failed 100% of the time before.

"Hey! I just had a great idea! Rent control!"

>Eighty-four percent of students are graduating on time.... Nationally, just 25 percent of high school seniors are able to do grade-level math and just 37 percent score proficient in reading.

The factory model of education is similar to Tesla's automated Model 3 assembly line. A pat on the head, push 'em out the door, and Prozac for the unhappy.

I personally do not think any jobs will be except from being replaced by human-level AI. And there are many signs that this may happen within 10 years or even less.

Care to share any? I haven't yet seen indications of a general AI being achievable in any kind of short term, and I'm somewhat sceptical of it happening this century at all.

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