Wednesday, October 05, 2011

How Did the Robot End Up With My Job?

Tom Friedman captures the sobering, yet exciting, challenge we face as educators and parents preparing our young children to compete in a hyperconnected world:

In the last decade, we have gone from a connected world (thanks to the end of the cold war, globalization and the Internet) to a hyperconnected world (thanks to those same forces expanding even faster). And it matters. The connected world was a challenge to blue-collar workers in the industrialized West. They had to compete with a bigger pool of cheap labor. The hyperconnected world is now a challenge to white-collar workers. They have to compete with a bigger pool of cheap geniuses — some of whom are people and some are now robots, microchips and software-guided machines.

I wrote about the connected world in 2004, arguing that the world had gotten "flat." When I made that argument, though, Facebook barely existed — and Twitter, cloud computing, iPhones, LinkedIn, iPads, the "applications" industry and Skype had either not been invented or were in their infancy. Now they are exploding, taking us from connected to hyperconnected. It is a huge inflection point masked by the Great Recession.

It is also both a huge challenge and opportunity. It has never been harder to find a job and never been easier — for those prepared for this world — to invent a job or find a customer. Anyone with the spark of an idea can start a company overnight, using a credit card, while accessing brains, brawn and customers anywhere.

…Matt Barrie, is the founder of, which today lists 2.8 million freelancers offering every service you can imagine. "The whole world is connecting up now at an incredibly rapid pace," says Barrie, and many of these people are coming to to offer their talents. Barrie says he describes this rising global army of freelancers the way he describes his own team: "They all have Ph.D.'s. They are poor, hungry and driven: P.H.D."

…Indeed, there is no "in" or "out" anymore. In the hyperconnected world, there is only "good" "better" and "best," and managers and entrepreneurs everywhere now have greater access than ever to the better and best people, robots and software everywhere. Obviously, this makes it more vital than ever that we have schools elevating and inspiring more of our young people into that better and best category, because even good might not cut it anymore and average is definitely over.


October 1, 2011

How Did the Robot End Up With My Job?


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