What does the future hold?

Yesterday, more than 300 people packed into Melbourne Convention Centre to hear about the latest trends in technology, and how the future of work will be affected

I was lucky enough to attend the conference, hanging out with the masses for the first half of the day and speaking on a panel in the second half. Future Work Summit had some incredibly amazing presenters.


Sally-Ann’s opening keynote blew everyone away! She called us all not to think about STEM or STEAM careers as “those things still put us in silos”. Instead, she likes to talk about:

“CS + X careers, where X is your passion, whatever you want to solve in life. It’s about combining computer science with that passion to take you where you want to go”

I totally agree! Sally-Ann says it applies to pretty much anything, where the CS stands for Computer Science. For example, Pixar = CS + Art, or Tesla = CS + transport. There’s definitely art and creativity in the future so we need to combine our passions with software and computer science as it underpins everything we do.

A big theme throughout the day was looking at the ‘soft skills’ key to the survival of humans when the robots come in to take a lot of the jobs. These soft skills are things like communication, creativity, problem solving, teamwork, curiosity, and critical thinking. It’s about making sure the “corporates focus on the human skills” as Yohan from the ACS says.

As humans we can be resilient, but we can also be disruptive. Our future is disruptive, and our present is being disrupted. How do we make sure we are being stable and resilient whilst still being disruptive and creative? David from Resilient Futures says we can’t have innovation without disruption, and we all need to be “changing before change happens”. He spoke again about the skills need to do that.

One of my favourite talks was Monica from HATCH. She went back to the soft skills needed for human resilience and puts it down to four simple skills. She even says coding isn’t essential if we have these four skills:

  • Presence – it’s all about being emphatic to others. If we show true empathy, true ‘connectedness’ we are present with others, and understand others.
  • Unlearning – “unlearn what you have learned” as Yoda would say. Unless we want to change our way of thinking, we have to forget the ways in which we think now
  • Aha – it’s about being curious. “Curiosity actually changes the structure of your brain”, and opens up your mind to learning new things.
  • Meraki – find your purpose, your passion, and your grit. Have those things. Hire for those things.
Four key areas we all need to be human in the future

Monica finished by saying AI has the potential to amplify things, even human things. She hopes AI will amplify empathy too! What an awesome thought. To think robots could help us be more emphatic to others. There was then a lot of discussion around who’s job is it to upskill for the future. Ultimately it is the job of the individual, enabled by what’s around us. Companies, education systems, and government need to provide opportunities for learning, and individuals need to seek them out.

After Monica, we were all taken back by the young talent on the stage. Kids as young as 9 spoke about how they want to change the world and our futures. Solving diabetes, writing instruction manuals for Trello, improving access for the disabled, and providing education to the underprivileged and underrepresented. These kids showed us the future is in good hands.

Then it was our turn. Jeanette from the Hacker Exchange, Georgia from Wade Institute, Sam from AGL, Johanna from Blue Chilli, and myself, spoke on the topic “will only the entrepreneurs survive?”

Such an awesome panel with these peeps (Photo Credit: 61 Bit)

We spoke about a lot of things; accelerator programs, education, startups, corporates, and as usual the skills needed to survive. In the end we all agreed, that it won’t just be the entrepreneurs that survive, but it will be those people that think like entrepreneurs, the ones with the ‘entrepreneurial’ mindset.

Our awesome panel! We can’t wait for the next one.

Finally, to end the day, Future Crunch gave us an overview of the Energy Revolution, and what science really allows us to do. The future is certainly looking awesome and I can’t wait to be a part of it.

Oh and I also enjoyed all the stats for the day, including:

  • 58% of all new STEM jobs are in CS, but only 8% of STEM graduates have CS
  • Automation threatens 800 million jobs
  • 47% of participants at the Summit are disruption ready… compared with only 35% of Australia
  • 70% of young people will enter the labour market in jobs lost to automation in only 10 years (yes – robots are gonna take jobs!)
  • A child today will have 17 jobs in 5 industries

There’s more where these came from as well as tonnes of quotes and images for the day on Twitter with #futureworksummit. Jump on to see all the excitement. The Future Work Summit will be running again in Sydney, so follow along to hear more about what the future holds.

The amazing Carina closing the day and announcing the next exciting Future Work Summit.

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