During my weekend readings I came across two essays that present an interesting take on the future of work.
First Kevin Kelly on why ‘productivity’ will be a worthless metric to be optimizing for:
There is more to be gained by producing more opportunities than by optimizing existing ones.
Productivity, however, is exactly the wrong thing to care about in the new economy.
The problem with trying to measure productivity is that it measures only how well people can do the wrong jobs. Any job that can be measured for productivity probably should be eliminated from the list of jobs that people do.
In the coming era, doing the exactly right next thing is far more fruitful than doing the same thing twice.
Second, Ben Casnocha via Arnold Kling on why ‘hard-to-define’ jobs will be a sign of job security:
Generally, the harder it is to explain to someone you’ve just met at a cocktail party what it is you do on a day to day basis, the more interesting the work you’re engaged in.
Arnold Kling applies a related rule of thumb to job security:
A job seeker is looking for… a well-defined job. But the trend seems to be that if a job can be defined, it can be automated or outsourced.
The marginal product of people who need well-defined jobs is declining. The marginal product of people who can thrive in less structured environments is increasing.