Read any report on the future of work and you will likely hear about the looming automation of large swaths of jobs and growing gaps of AI and computer programming skills. While these issues deserve attention, they mask an important but far more subtle shift in the world of work. Entirely new fields and functions are being created at a breakneck pace, and nearly every job is changing. And even incremental changes are—in aggregate—having profound effects.
From the engineers designing planes, to the mechanics repairing them, to the office workers handling process management or sales, workers are feeling the pressure to adapt and evolve the way they work. According to a recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute, while today’s technology threatens just 5% of occupations with complete automation-driven obsolescence, far more jobs (60%) could have nearly a third (30%) of their work activity automated with the application of already-existing technology, dramatically changing the work experience of most occupations. Against that backdrop, there is a risk that in our race to close the most acute skill gaps, we might overlook the impact of technology on a much broader segment of our workforce.
This paper describes that risk as a “Digital Blindspot” that, in many ways, reflects the way the human brain understands and evaluates risk: we tend to worry more about the unknown than things we know and can control.