How will technology change the work we do?
In a ever-changing world, trying to predict what the future holds is proving harder by the day. The rise of ‘Big Data’, mechanisation and ‘machine-learning’ suggests that whatever the future does become over the next 50 years or so, automation will play a big part in it.
Companies, governments and citizens are increasingly harnessing its powers for innovation and expediency.
So what does this mean for education and the future of work? Can you count on your humanities degree being relevant in 25 years time?
It is hotly debated and no-one can know for sure, but from a purely practical standpoint, here is one reason why any humanities degree will still be needed. Even when it is your car that is driving you to work.
While research and development in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics, will undoubtedly be important in the future work we do, they cannot do all of the jobs that societies need to thrive.
The clue is in the name: the humanities are, broadly speaking, studies into humankind.
From history, politics, and literature, to art, philosophy, anthropology and sociology – each one of these areas of study and research shed light on how we organise our world and how humans are, in turn, shaped by it.
And while there is overlap between the sciences and humanities in terms of what students learn from those degrees, (analysis, examination, problem-solving, methodology, and so on), their real-world applications differ.
Brave new world
So, as well as honing their writing and debating, humanities graduates have skills that can be applied to problems, such as how we govern a world that is constantly changed by technology.
New moral and political questions like this one will need to be answered as that change occurs.
It seems a reasonable assumption to make that as long as there are humans, the humanities will be needed.