A Lovely Notion … But Would You Bet the Farm On It?

[Please be aware: this week’s post is not intended to reflect a partisan stance and/or endorsement of any political candidate.  Rather, this post is intended to reference & reinforce content covered in the Remain Relevant course and slipstream off of earlier blog content.]

As was noted in an earlier post, participants in the Remain Relevant course learn about PEST (Political, Economic, Social & Technological), a big-picture, wide-horizon competitive intelligence methodology that examines (you guessed it), politics, economics, social factors & technology.

On the political front, Bernie Sanders announced his presidential candidacy, stating that AI/automation is a concern (although I must say, the headline, “Bernie Sanders, AI Candidate” sends a confusing message).

(FromAxios) Quote of Note: “I’m running for president because we need to understand that artificial intelligence and robotics must benefit the needs of workers, not just corporate America and those who own that technology.”

Certainly seems like a solid sentiment, but again we must remember that AI/automation is global in scope and very complex; it’s not just an American issue.  Further, as we saw in last week’s post, governments are also in play – this particular Octagon is not just for corporations.  Lots of gears-within-gears. 

Taking a slightly different, more expansive tack, there’s Andrew Yang, who is making fighting automation a cornerstone of his presidential campaign.  Kinda like “John Connor in 2020”.

(From MIT Technology Review) Quote of Note: “For me, there was no choice in the matter. It wasn’t like, “I’m going to run for president and I’m going to decide which issue to focus on.” I’m running for president because I know that we’re in the third inning of the greatest economic transformation of industry in the world and that our politicians don’t understand it all.”

And, “I think artificial intelligence should be a very important issue in the election. The folks in Silicon Valley tell me it’s going to be difficult to keep up with China because of the scale of resources China is putting behind it. This is again an area where American leadership is in true jeopardy. Now we’re relying on private companies who, despite their ingenuity, don’t have the resources to keep up with what the Chinese government can do. The Chinese government is essentially writing a blank check to various AI companies. That’s a concern to technology companies here. And that’s something that I’ve told them I will help with as president.  The goal is to avoid an AI arms race, but it’s much easier to avoid an arms race when you are one of the leaders at the table than when another country is far ahead of you.”

Yes, yes … colossal issues.  Myriad, complex issues.  Leaves one fumbling for a Costco-sized bottle of Advil.

So, do these articles relate to PEST?  You betcha. Obviously, “Political” & “Technological”.  Clearly, “Economic” & “Social” are also well represented, here … any time we start batting around the old “job piñata”, we’re deep in economic & social country.  Add to that Yang’s discussion of his position on Universal Basic Income … as I noted in the keynote presentation during IHS Markit’s Colorado Development Days, UBI is a lovely idea – but I certainly wouldn’t bet the farm on it.  (To be fair, I saw his recent appearanceon Joe Rogan’s podcast and I must admit that his argument is compelling.  There are flaws, sure, but he makes an interesting case and he makes it well.)

The 2020 presidential race is ramping up … politicians are going to discuss issues with which voters are especially concerned – and right now the flavor-of-the-month is losing jobs to automation.  That means we will hear a lot of political-speak about the Age of Automation in the coming couple of years (or at least until next November).  We will definitely get the “sizzle” … the “steak” will remain to be seen.

Back to betting the farm. In the Remain Relevant course, we learn to leverage PEST to keep an eye on the big picture to inform our evolutionary arc so that we can adjust it as necessary.  The sentiments expressed by politicians on both sides of the aisle toward protecting our jobs from automation may be pure & noble, but as I’ve noted, it’s a complex and messy world, and the road to heck is paved with good intentions.  Do you want to count on politicians to mitigate the potential risk of job loss? Do you want to depend upon UBI coming to pass to save you in the event you lose employment?

Go “all in” … on yourself. Bet on developing substrate skills upon which you can firmly plant yourself to pivot, adapt, evolve and then pivot yet again.  If the politicians can actually deliver, then, hey … gravy.  But if they can’t, you’ve always got yourself and your plan & path toward ongoing evolution.


Do you want to Remain Relevant in the Age of Automation?  If so, please have a look at the FastFulcrum courses that provide the substrate skills needed to do so:


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