At one time, everyone farmed. Few could imagine a world where a great majority of people didn’t spend their energy planting and harvesting food. The Industrial Revolution changed everything dramatically.
Eventually, almost no one farmed. Machines did. Most people then worked with machines, building them in factories, maintaining them, keeping the production process going with manual, mechanical labor. Increasing automation arrived, and once again, everything changed.
Now most people work in service industries. Machines need far less maintenance. The production process needs far fewer humans directly involved. Most of us now engage in planning, number crunching, logistics, customer service, sales, and other mental rather than physical processes. Machines do the working, we do the thinking.
But here’s the thing: machines are not only better at the physical part. Software is better at the mental processing too. Increasingly, software is handling service jobs. Remember travel agents who shopped for hotels for you? Few remain. Software can handle more and more complex processes and analysis that has been the domain of human workers. With the development of artificial intelligence, even nuanced, multifaceted analysis and decision making can be done by machines. Programs can decide whether to code your business trip to Atlanta as “marketing” or “recruitment” by analyzing your other behaviors.
Some see this new world as a scary place, with nothing left for humans. It’s ridiculously nearsighted to be frightened rather than excited by advances in technology and changes to the world of work that they bring. If the point of work was merely doing it, humans never should have invented tools of any kind. We don’t work just to do it. We want to improve our lives and achieve our goals. The more tools we have to make this easier, the better off we are.
The beauty of machines+software taking on the physical, mental, and complex analytical tasks is that it frees humans up to do that most human of all activities: creating.
Don’t learn farming when machines are handling it. Don’t learn industry when it’s becoming automated. Don’t be an expert at basic service processes when software is taking it over. Instead, cultivate the most valuable, enduring thing humans have; the capacity to create, to innovate, to imagine and build.
Entrepreneurship isn’t only a fun challenge or popular buzzword. It’s the thing that more and more humans are freed up to do as tech does the rest. Are you ready to jump in?