Our creative future

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Image source: Oracle

Happy new year. Or, to phrase it differently, welcome to the future.

I’ve just read a couple of fascinating takes on the technologies and the jobs that await us in the not-too-distant future.

Innovations in artificial intelligence

In Big Tech’s AI Predictions for 2017, experts from leading technology companies provide a peek into technology that will arrive in the next couple of years. We’re treated to new advances in voice-recognition technology, new uses for AI, and more. A couple of examples:

“In 2017 there will be a chatbot that passes the Turing test, exhibiting responses so human-like that an average person wouldn’t be able to tell if it’s human or machine.” – Jim McHugh, Vice President and General Manager, NVIDIA

“2017 will see product developers rapidly adopting the latest AI-powered voice recognition technology, [using] speech APIs and tools that are now free to use.” – Adam Coates, Director, Baidu Silicon Valley AI Lab

Reading the article reminds me of my childhood trips to the World’s Fair, where futurists paraded their visions and inspired me to dream of seeing in my lifetime a wonderful, exciting world enabled by technology and human ingenuity.

Tomorrow’s design jobs

The Most Important Design Jobs of the Future lists new jobs that, according to a panel of design experts, will need to be filled within 3 to 5 years.

Some job titles are self-explanatory (though still fantastical), like Augmented Reality Designer and Human Organ Designer.

Others, like Cybernetic Director (responsible for the creative vision and execution of highly personalized media services) and Fusionist (envisioning and creating cross-disciplinary links between art, engineering, research, and science), reflect new directions for technology and for the way people will use it.

Technical communication blogger Danielle Villegas (TechCommGeekMom) laments that she feels unprepared for the jobs of the future. “How does one train or learn [for] these kinds of positions,” she asks, when it’s hard enough keeping up with the technologies and opportunities that exist today?

That’s a great question, Danielle.

How do we prepare?

Who will work with these incredible new technologies? Who will hold these cool new design jobs? Someone will, and while I don’t know their names I guarantee that they’ll be people who, right now, possess no experience with those technologies or in those roles. Because no one, anywhere, possesses that experience yet.

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Image source: Qualcomm

It’s not like there’s a secret academy where people are taking courses in Cybernetic Direction. Where nascent Human Organ Designers are learning the best practices for making livers and hearts.

But there are user experience (UX) designers who are understand the principles of human-computer interaction. There are technical communicators who know how to create customized content for a target audience. Most important, there are people in all walks of life who are adept at critical thinking.

These are the people who’ll work with the new technologies, who’ll hold the new jobs. And I hope you’re thinking Why not me? If you’ve mastered the basic skills, and if you’re willing to expand your horizons and apply those skills to new technological challenges, you’re just as likely as anyone to play a major role in our creative future.

What say you? What skills (“soft” and “hard”) will come to bear in the technological world of tomorrow? How are you preparing yourself to be a part of that world?

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