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(Global HR Forum 2014)-Futurist Thomas Frey Predicts Over 2 bil. jobs will disappear by 2030

September 02, 2014 10:49|09 02, 2014 11:55
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In commemoration of Global HR Forum 2014, to be held in Seoul between November 4-6, 2014, The Korea Economic Daily had e-mail interviews with several distinguished guests on various subjects. The followings are e-mail Interview with Thomas Frey, Executive Director and Senior Futurist at the DaVinci Institute...Ed.


Reporter: Ha, Hun Hyoung

(Global HR Forum 2014)-Futurist Thomas Frey Predicts Over 2 bil. jobs will disappear by 2030

1.     The theme of Global HR Forum 2014 is ‘Human Resources for Trust and Integration. What would you suggest the ways to restore collapsed social cohesion and confidence and foster talents leading those actions?

As a futurist, I spend far less time focused on today’s problems and far more looking at the issues we’ll be facing in the years ahead, and there will indeed be many in the years ahead.


The biggest issue will be “technological unemployment” and the loss of over 2 billion jobs by 2030. This is not a doom and gloom prediction, but rather a wakeup call for the world.


Will we run out of work for the world? Of course not! Nothing is more preposterous than to somehow proclaim the human race no longer has any work left to do. But having paid jobs to coincide with the work that needs to be done, and developing the skills necessary for future work is another matter.


Our goal needs to be focused on the catalytic innovations that create entirely new industries, and these new industries will serve as the engines of future job creation, unlike anything before in history.


2.     What else will you discuss during your keynote speech at the Forum?

We are entering into a world where driverless vehicles will eliminate millions of driving positions; robotic systems will work relentlessly day and night eliminating millions of manufacturing, welding, painting, and assembly positions; and things that seemed impossible to automate in the past will have computers and machines replacing people’s jobs. 


With these types of automation and AI (artificial intelligence) replacing human involvement, the discussion has focused on solutions like shared jobs, micro employment, and guaranteed income.


While those may be options, there’s also great danger in preparing for “slacker lifestyles” where people feel less significant, less certain about their future, and less connected to the value they have to offer. As a society we risk becoming soft and lazy.


There is great value in the human struggle, and when we fail to be challenged, our best-laid plans tend to fall apart at the seams.


Today, the amount of time it takes to build ships and skyscrapers, create massive data storage centers for all our growing volumes of information, or produce global wireless networks for all our devices has dropped significantly. But along with each of these drops is a parallel increase in our capabilities and our expectations.


For these reasons, I’d like to reframe the discussion by proposing the following “Laws of Exponential Capabilities”:


LAW #1: With automation, every exponential decrease in effort creates an equal and opposite exponential increase in capabilities.

LAW #2: As today’s significant accomplishments become more common, mega-accomplishments will take their place.

LAW #3: As we raise the bar for our achievements, we also reset the norm for our expectations. 



3.     What is your opinion on Korea’s present situation for business start-ups? Could you point out the strength and weakness compared to those of the U.S. and the other countries?

Being an outsider, I can only give my observations, but it would appear that Korea has a less dynamic startup culture than that in the U.S., but there is significant room for improvement in both countries.


Startups do best when they are surrounded by other like-minded people, learning from each other, inspiring each other, and helping people get back up when they run into yet another brick wall that has to be dealt with.


4.     What does should the government do to support young business start-ups?

A new model for urban development is emerging; giving rise to what the Brookings Institute is calling “innovation districts.” These districts are geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators.


Innovation districts have the unique potential to spur productive, inclusive and sustainable economic development. At a time of sluggish growth, they provide a strong foundation for the creation and expansion of firms and jobs by helping companies, entrepreneurs, universities, researchers and investors—across sectors and disciplines—co-invent and co-produce new discoveries for the market.


Governments should look seriously at launching new innovation districts, adding support, incentives, and mentorship where necessary.


5.     What advice would you give to Korean young people considering going into business start-up?

As a first step, you will need to surround yourself with people who look like what you want to become. By this I mean they should create a very dynamic, resilient “friends network” with a “can do” attitude and enough resources to overcome any challenge.


Naturally though, that’s easier said than done.


6.     Could you talk about a few successful/unsuccessful cases of business start-ups?

While there have been countless examples in the past, motivated people today are making changes everywhere. Here are a few examples:


·         Grace Choi – This Harvard Business School graduate recently invented Mink, a sub-$300 3D printer that prints custom makeup pigments on demand, a product that will radically transform the high-end cosmetic industry.

·         FatouDoumbia – When it comes to creating sustainable farming and food supplies, the people of Mali, West Africa still have a long ways to go. Fatou’s plan is to empower women, teach them the best farming techniques, and overcome the challenges of a male-oriented society. 

·         Ben Kaufman – This 27 year old founder of the NY-based invention company, Quirky, has raised over $90 million to turn social invention into a faster way to bring great ideas to market.

·         David Allerby – 33 year old founder of HomeCare, a company that provides temporary in-home assistants for seniors and children with developmental disabilities.

·         Sean Kelly – This 29 year old two-time freestyle snowboarding national champion now runs HUMAN Healthy Vending, a chain of franchised vending machines filled with healthy foods, like fresh fruit and sports supplements. 

Each of these young people has figured out a well-defined niche to develop into a successful business.


7.     Youth unemployment is a severe problem globally. What advice would you give to Korean leaders as an approach to solving this problem?

In March, when Facebook announced the $2 billion acquisition of Oculus Rift, they not only put a giant stamp of approval on the technology, but they also triggered an instant demand for virtual reality designers, developers, and engineers.


Virtual reality professionals were nowhere to be found on the list of hot skills needed for 2014, but they certainly will be for 2015.


In these types of industries, it’s no longer possible to project the talent needs of business and industry 5-6 years in advance, which is the time it takes most universities to develop a new degree program and graduate their first class. Instead, these new skill-shifts come wrapped in a very short lead-time, often as little as 3-4 months.


Rapid re-skilling programs designed to build individual competencies, one micro-capability at a time, coupled with hands-on apprenticeships and on-demand tutorial support, are all pieces of the learning environments that will be needed to elevate the caliber of workers to meet the vital workforce needs of tomorrow. 


8.     Please share with us something you learned from employment and labor policies in other developing countries.

We live in a very fluid society. If conditions are not right, the world’s most talented and resourceful people will simply follow their dreams and do what it takes to be successful elsewhere.


Migrant populations around the world continue to grow. In 2013, 232 million people, or 3.2% of the world’s population, were international migrants, compared with 175 million in 2000 and 154 million in 1990.


Europe and Asia combined are the home for nearly two-thirds of all international migrants worldwide. Europe is the most popular destination hosting roughly 72 million international migrants in 2013, followed closely by 71 million in Asia.


The Internet is dramatically increasing our awareness of the events and actions of those in charge, as well what’s happening in other countries around the world.


As awareness grows, counties will soon find it necessary to compete for their citizens, something they’ve always taken for granted in the past. 


9.     In your opinion, what are some of the most promising jobs in the future?

In a recent article I described some of the hot new skills that will be needed in the future. While I’ve used some rather creative descriptions for these skills, they will all play an important role in future jobs.

·         Transitionists – Those who can help make a transition.

·         Expansionists – A talent for adapting along with a growing environment.

·         Maximizers – An ability to maximize processes, situations, and opportunities.

·         Optimizers – The skill and persistence to tweak variables until it produces better results.

·         Inflectionists – Finding critical inflection points in a system will become a much-prized skill.

·         Dismantlers – Every industry will eventually end, and this requires talented people who know how to scale things back in an orderly fashion.

·         Feedback Loopers – Those who can devise the best possible feedback loops.

·         Backlashers – Ever- new technology will have its detractors, and each backlash will require a response.

·         Last Milers – Technologies commonly reach a point of diminishing returns as they attempt to extend their full capacity to the end user. People with the ability to mastermind these solutions will be in hot demand.

·         Contexualists – In between the application and the big picture lays the operational context for every new technology.

·         Ethicists – There will be an ever-growing demand for people who can ask the tough question and standards to apply moral decency to some increasingly complex situations.

·         Philosophers – With companies in a constant battle over “my-brain-is-bigger-that-your-brain,” it becomes the overarching philosophy that wins the day.

·         Theorists – Every new product, service, and industry begins with a theory.

·         Legacists – Those who are passionate and skilled with leaving a legacy.


10.  South Korea's economic growth has been slowing down and the economy seems to be stuck in the middle of the U.S. and China. What could be done to infuse vitality and vigor in the Korean economy?

Much of the world around us has been formed around key pieces of infrastructure, and Korea could become the world’s leading innovator in devising new infrastructure. Most see this as a testament to who we are as a society, and part of the cultural moorings we need to guide us into the future. But infrastructure needs to constantly be upgraded and improved, and someone needs to take the lead. Here are a few examples:


·         Driverless cars will create a need for driverless highways.

·         Tube Transportation Networks will create what some are calling the 5th form of transportation, creating ultra high-speed transportation networks around the world.

·         Atmospheric Water Harvesters that continually draw water from our atmosphere.

·         Micro Colleges that create a responsive education system for emerging new technologies.

·         Flying Drone Delivery Networks.

·         Mass Energy Storage systems that will efficiently store power from one day to the next.

·         Global Language Archive – Think of this as the “Louvre of Languages” where culture and language collide in a way that all can experience. 

·         Whole Earth Genealogy Project – There is a big opportunity waiting for someone to automate the creation and interconnection of all our genealogies. 

By 2050, we will see more changes to core infrastructure than in the combined total in all of human history. The fundamental shifts we will see to the way society functions will be nothing short of breathtaking. And these projects will create hundreds of millions of great jobs along the way.


11.  South Korea has suffered a major loss as a result of the Sewol ferry disaster in last April. This called for South Korea to face challenges—making fundamental changes in its education, social and economy systems, so that the same kinds of incident will nothappenagain and eventually go forward into being a developed country. What should be changed and improved related to human resource educations?

I will first caution that not all accidents, disasters, and black swans are predictable. That said, I have spent considerable time trying to understand something I call Anomaly Zero.


Anomaly Zero is the theoretical earliest possible point where danger can be confirmed as a real threat. In virtually all cases, it remains theoretical because we are a long ways from both understanding it and figuring out ways to track it.


The primary point of this thinking is simply to move the earliest red flags of detection far closer to the point of origin so most disasters can be averted.


As an example, when a forest fire starts, it’s relatively easy to put out the flames when it only covers a few square meters. Once it grows to an entire hectare, it becomes far more difficult to contain.


In Oct 2013, Janusz Bryzek, an executive at Fairchild Semiconductor, organized an event called the Trillion Sensor Summit. The purpose of the event was to project out how long it would be before we reached 1 trillion sensors in the world. They concluded that we will reach that landmark by 2024 and 100 trillion sensors in the mid 2036.


Once we are able to incorporate millions, even trillions of sensors in the world around us, we will be able to track far more problems back to Anomaly Zero and prevent major disaster from ever happening.


12.  Is there anyone you respect among Korean figures? If there is one key person, please explain why?

There are many Korean people that I have a huge amount of respect for. People like Lee Kun-Hee, ChungMong-Koo, and Shin Dong-Bin are some of the most impressive business people in the world.


But the person who I will have the most respect for is the one who will cause the reunification of North and South Korea. That is the person the entire world will hold in high esteem. 


13.  What would you most like to share with Korea’s young people?

People of tomorrow will need to be prepared for a higher calling. This higher calling will be to pre-empt crises before they occur, anticipate disasters before they happen, and solve some of mankind’s greatest problems, starting with the problem of our own ignorance.


Much like a walking through a dark forest with a flashlight that illuminates but a short distance ahead, each step forward gives us a new perspective, adding light to what was previously dark. The people of tomorrow will simply need a better flashlight.


With over 2 billion jobs disappearing by 2030, we will need systems capable of creating new business and industry faster than ever before.

“2030년까지 전 세계에서 20억개의 일자리가 사라질 겁니다. 현재 세계 일자리의 절반에 해당하는 규모예요.”

세계적인 미래학자 토마스 프레이 다빈치연구소 소장은 31일 한국경제신문과의 이메일 인터뷰에서 “사람이 돈을 받고 일하는 직업은 시대가 요구하는 니즈나 트렌드에 따라 생겨나고 사라지기 때문에 미래의 일자리를 획기적으로 늘릴 수 있는 새로운 산업을 만드는 데 노력을 기울일 필요가 있다”며 이같이 말했다.

그는 인터뷰 내내 ‘촉매 기술’의 중요성을 강조했다. 완전히 새로운 산업 분야를 만들어내는 촉매 기술이 수많은 주변 산업과 직업을 창출할 것이라는 설명이다. 3차원(3D) 프린터가 대표적이다. 과거의 기술을 무용지물로 만들고 산업과 일자리를 소멸시키는 ‘파괴 기술’과 대조되는 개념이다.

프레이 소장은 오는 11월4~6일 서울 광장동 쉐라톤그랜드워커힐호텔에서 열리는 ‘글로벌 인재포럼 2014’에 참석해 4일 기조세션Ⅲ(청년 창업과 일자리 정책)에서 강연할 예정이다. 다음은 일문일답.

▷20억개의 일자리가 소멸할 것으로 보는 이유는.

“스마트폰에서 애플리케이션(앱·응용프로그램) 하나를 다운로드할 때마다 수많은 일자리가 사라진다. 지금까지 사람이 해오던 일을 스마트폰 앱이 대신하기 때문이다. ‘레벨(level·면의 기울기를 측량하는 기구)’은 배의 수평 상태를 측정하기 위해 작은 타원형 모양의 유리관에 금속으로 만든 광학기기다. 하지만 지금은 스마트폰 앱으로 간단히 배의 수평 상태를 측정할 수 있게 됐다. 더 이상 레벨에 들어가는 유리와 금속 부품을 생산·조립할 필요가 없어졌다. 사람이 해야 할 일이 없어진 셈이다. 그동안 공장에서 하던 대부분의 작업이 자동화되고 로봇이 대신하게 되면서 고용주는 사람을 고용하기를 점점 더 꺼리게 될 것이다. 임금도 문제지만 인력을 관리하는 게 고용주로서는 부담스러운 일이기 때문이다. 그렇게 ‘무고용(people-less)’ 기업이 늘어나면서 수많은 일자리가 소멸할 것이다.”

▷새로운 직업도 생기지 않겠나.

“물론이다. 일자리가 없어져도 일거리는 사라지지 않는다. 오히려 인간은 일거리에서 해방될 수 없다. 하지만 좀 더 지속적이고 장기적인 ‘고용 성장’을 위해서는 혁신이 필요하다. 기술이 일자리를 없애고 있지만 해답도 기술에서 찾아야 한다. 지금껏 본 적 없는 새로운 세상을 여는 ‘촉매 기술’이 고용을 획기적으로 늘릴 수 있을 것이다. 그것이 ‘슈퍼 고용의 시대’다.”

▷촉매 기술의 예를 든다면.

“페이스북이 지난 3월 가상현실 기기업체인 ‘오큘러스 VR’을 20억달러에 인수했다. 가상현실 기기 개발자와 엔지니어에 대한 수요가 폭발적으로 증가할 것이다. 가상현실 전문가는 아직까진 각광받고 있지 않다. 하지만 당장 내년부터는 떠오르는 인기 직업이 될 것이다. 3D 프린터도 촉매 기술의 대표적인 예다.”

▷이번 인재포럼에서 ‘청년 창업’에 대해 강연하기로 돼 있다. 창업을 준비 중인 한국 청년들에게 해줄 조언은.

“우선 자신이 닮고 싶은 사람들과 가깝게 지내는 것이 좋다. 그런 사람들과 네트워크를 쌓는 한편, ‘할 수 있다’는 자신감과 어떤 역경도 이겨낼 수 있다는 자세를 갖는 것이 중요하다. 다들 아는 얘기일 수 있지만 말처럼 쉬운 것은 아니다. 창업은 서로 다른 생각을 가진 사람과 함께할 때 성공할 확률이 높다. 서로 배우고 영감을 얻으면서 성장할 수 있기 때문이다.”

▷창업의 성공 사례를 든다면.

“최근 하버드 비즈니스스쿨을 졸업한 그레이스 최는 색조 화장품을 만들 수 있는 가정용 3D 프린터 ‘밍크(Mink)’를 개발했다. 이 제품은 고급 화장품 시장을 변화시킬 것으로 기대된다. 데이비드 에럴비는 발달장애를 가진 어린이와 노인을 위한 가사 도우미 업체 ‘홈케어(HomeCare)’를 세워 성공 가도를 달리고 있다. 미국 프리스타일 스노보드 챔피언이었던 션 켈리는 건강에 좋은 음식을 파는 자판기 업체를 세웠다. 이들의 공통점은 남이 하지 않는 틈새 시장을 정확히 파악하고 실행에 옮겼다는 것이다.”

▷청년 창업을 활성화하기 위해 정부가 할 수 있는 역할은.

“브루킹스연구소가 ‘혁신 지구’라고 부르는 창업 지원 공간을 조성할 필요가 있다. 혁신 지구는 최첨단 기술 연구소와 기업들이 모여 있는 곳이다. 이들은 ‘공동 발명’이나 ‘공동 생산’을 통해 스타트업이 성장할 수 있도록 돕는다. 창업 보조금이나 인센티브도 좋지만 이런 공간을 마련해주는 것이 중요하다.”

▷한국은 경제성장 둔화를 고민하고 있다. 한국 경제가 활력을 되찾으려면.

“기존에 없는 새로운 인프라 기술을 개발해 다른 나라를 선도해야 한다. 무인 자동차 시대가 열리면 무인 자동차 전용 고속도로 건설·운영을 위한 인프라가 필요할 것이다. 대기에서 지속적으로 물을 추출할 수 있는 날도 얼마 남지 않았다. 이런 인프라 기술을 선도적으로 개발하는 나라가 향후 세계 경제를 이끌어갈 것이다.”

▷한국인 중 존경하는 사람이 있나.

“많다. 이건희 삼성그룹 회장, 정몽구 현대차그룹 회장, 신동빈 롯데그룹 회장 등은 세계적으로 유능한 사업가들이다. 하지만 앞으로 남북 통일의 물꼬를 트는 사람을 가장 존경하게 될 것이다.”

■ 미래 일자리 바꿀 5가지는

토마스 프레이 다빈치연구소 소장은 구글이 선정한 세계 최고의 미래학자다. 세계적인 미래학 저널 ‘더 퓨처리스트’의 편집인으로도 활동하고 있다. 다빈치연구소를 세우기 전 15년간 IBM에서 엔지니어로 일하면서 270여개의 상을 받기도 했다. 미국 내 상위 0.1%의 지능지수(IQ)를 가진 사람들의 모임인 ‘트리플나인소사이어티’의 회원이며, 저서로는 ‘미래와의 대화’ 등이 있다. 그는 가까운 미래에 △무인 자동차 △온라인 강의 △3차원(3D) 프린터 △에너지 발전 △로봇 등 다섯 가지 산업 부문의 판도가 크게 바뀔 것으로 전망한다.

(1) 무인 자동차

프레이 소장은 앞으로 10년 내 무인 자동차 시대가 도래할 것으로 내다보고 있다. 이로 인해 무인 택배, 무인 식료품 배달 등의 서비스가 급부상하게 된다. 택시·버스 운전사, 교통 경찰 등 다양한 일자리가 사라지게 된다. 교통사고가 급감하면서 외과병원의 의사와 간호사도 줄어들 것이라는 게 그의 전망이다.

(2) 온라인 강의

프레이 소장은 “학생들이 정해진 시간에 맞춰 수업을 들을 필요가 없어진다”고 말한다. 언제 어디서나 인터넷을 통해 교육 콘텐츠를 접할 수 있기 때문이다. 2002년 미국 매사추세츠 공대(MIT)가 대학 강의를 온라인에 무료로 공개하는 오픈코스웨어(온라인 강의 공유 프로그램) 사이트를 개설한 게 대표적 사례다. 학습을 위해 교사가 아닌 코치, 멘토, 가이드가 필요하게 되며 2020년 이후에는 교사 없는 교육 시스템이 정착할 것으로 그는 예상하고 있다.

(3) 3D 프린터

현재 3D 프린터 기술은 의약품과 식품을 제작하는 수준까지 발전했다. 3D 프린터를 이용한 의류산업은 2016년 31억달러, 2020년 52억달러로 성장할 것으로 프레이 소장은 예상한다. 최근에는 3D 프린터로 건물을 짓는 기술이 개발되고 있다.

(4) 에너지 발전

2030년까지 기존 전력회사는 모두 사라질 것으로 프레이 소장은 전망한다. 이산화탄소 배출량을 줄이고 대체에너지 등 더 좋은 에너지를 찾기 위한 노력이 수년간 지속되면서 종전의 전력회사는 할 일이 없어진다는 것이다. 화석연료시대가 끝나고 재생에너지, 청정에너지에 대한 수요가 급증하게 된다.

(5) 로봇

로봇 산업은 각국의 국방 산업에 큰 영향을 미칠 것으로 예상된다. 이미 미국 보스턴 다이나믹스사의 4족 보행 군사용 로봇이 개발된 상태다. 위험한 분쟁 지역에 군인들이 아닌 로봇이 대신 군수물자를 운반하게 된다. 로봇 산업의 부상으로 로봇 수리공, 로봇 시설 관리사 등의 새로운 일자리가 생겨난다.

■ 프레이 다빈치연구소장은

△1954년 5월 출생 △사우스 다코타 주립대, 로레타 하이츠 칼리지 졸업 △IBM 엔지니어·디자이너로 15년 근무 (혁신 관련 270여회 수상) △IQ천재 모임 ‘트리플나인소사이어티’ (전 세계 1225명) 회원 △세계미래협회 격월간지 ‘더 퓨처리스트’ 편집인 △‘미래와의 대화’ 저자 △구글 선정 세계 최고의 미래학자

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