There are professional people working in all industries today that were 5 years old when Facebook launched in 2004.
These individuals don’t know a world where technology does not cater to every imaginable need they have in some way. They have no reason not to embrace and support technological advances. To put it bluntly, the world will soon mostly consist of people who view intangible intuitive technological advances in the same way Generation X view cars. They will embrace and shape the creative economy to such an extent that anything else will just be background noise.
The term first appeared in John Howkins’ 2001 book, The Creative Economy: How People Make Money From Ideas, where he defined the creative economy as “the transactions of creative products that have an economic good or service that results from creativity and has economic value”. It’s very important to note, the creative economy should not be confused with the creative industry. The creative economy is about adding value to a service or business offering using creative thinking whilst utilising the new technologies that can do things more effectively.
It can be something basic like using digital banners backed up by a solid strategy and human insights-based content plan, opposed to handing out flyers. On the other end of the spectrum is what’s referred to as ‘disruptive business models’. Companies like Uber or Airbnb connected consumers and technology creatively, adding value never before imagined, and even this is already old news.
Getting back to Johnny. He’s blissfully unaware of advances that could soon render his specialised skills as overpriced and inefficient. Just like the candle makers that came before him, technology is going to start doing what he does, just better.
In 1997 IBM’s computer, Deep Blue, beat world chess champion, Gary Kasparov. While in recent years it has been somewhat overhyped and foul play has been hinted at, it was still the beginning of the end for humanity’s intellectual superiority. A computer that has been taught to think by analysing all the possibilities, assessing risk, and taking the most logical action based on the assessment, can do it so much more efficiently than a human can. Kasparov admitted to intentionally making a risky move, early in the game, that effectively ended his chances for winning. Machines that can correctly interpret variables do not cave under pressure, they do not take risks or chances based on a hunch. They simply take the best course of action based on what has been learned.
If it can be programmed to deduce and learn, it’s only logical that it can be taught to diagnose, teach, plan, or anything else that has somewhat definable rules or challenges. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer science fiction. If learning is a sign of intelligence, the predictive text algorithm in search engines or chatbot apps like Duolingo would already, theoretically be counted as part of daily AI we have learned to accept and love.
Apart from invisible AI that subtly enhances UX experiences, we have all come to accept and integrate AI that openly attempts to mimic human traits into our daily lives like SIRI, Bixby, or even Vihaan – the helpful technician on the other side of the troubleshooting chat box that’s actually a bot helping many users with simple predictable tasks all at once.
While this is all very interesting, the other side of the coin is that pretty soon, if it’s something a human can be taught, a machine will also be able to do it. Thus, ending that particular skill as a viable, sustainable occupation for a human.
Luckily, we have something AI does not. Our weakness when it comes to efficiency, is our greatest asset when it comes to value. We have the ability to imagine, feel, create new ideas and objects or concepts from nothing. We can dream.
So, instead of sulking about the cell phone that will one day be smarter than most humans, let’s rather embrace our strengths and aim to add value with creativity in a way that AI cannot. Even better, let’s use our ability to dream and imagine to position ourselves not only to thrive in the creative economy, but to anticipate what’s coming next.
In the third and final part of this piece, I will share my own personal prediction on future economies and explore ways to make sure you are able to adapt.