The nature of work is changing. Technology is making once-stable careers obsolete, and raising questions about how educators and lawmakers should react.
Here’s a look at five big ideas on how to rethink careers, change policy, improve our health and prepare for the future of the work:
It’s time to raise the retirement age.
For the economy to improve, the national retirement age must increase steadily with life expectancy, said economist Robert J. Gordon, in a talk on Tuesday.
Americans are already working longer. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College reports that the average retirement age for men has increased from 62 to 64 over the past 20 years. For women, it’s risen to 62. Gordon’s approach would create a sliding scale, bumping up the retirement age as Americans live longer.
Want to change the world? Go into finance.
You don’t have to work at a nonprofit to do good. In fact, you may have a better shot at making a difference by taking a high-paying job. Singer, in his talk Friday, referred to the work of philosophy graduate student Will Crouch, who encourages people to take jobs in finance and banking because they pay well.
The thinking is simple: If you make a high salary, you can give away more money. Instead of becoming an aid worker, for example, someone in finance or banking could help pay the salaries of five aid workers, Singer said.
Your desk chair should be your nemesis.
Corporate strategist Nilofer Merchant stepped onto the TED stage Tuesday and warned the audience: “What you’re doing this very moment is killing you.”
Yes, she was talking about sitting.
People sit for roughly 9.3 hours a day, she said, which is more time than they spend sleeping. Merchant, who also writes on LinkedIn, called sitting “the smoking of our generation” and noted that inactivity can lead to numerous health problems, from weight gain to cancer. She implored office workers everywhere to stand up, take walking meetings and do anything possible to be more active in the hours spent at the office.
When the robots rule, we need a guaranteed paycheck.
As androids replace humans in jobs, lawmakers must make dramatic changes to economic policies, says Andrew McAfee, the principal research scientist at MIT’s Center for Digital Business.
His idea: a guaranteed minimum income. That may sound like socialism, but McAfee quickly pointed out in his talk Wednesday that the concept has been endorsed by right-wing figures like Richard Nixon, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.
Still, that doesn’t make the proposal any less controversial. When Nixon pushed for a minimum income for the poor in 1969, it failed because of opposition from Democrats. His plan called for giving $1,600 annually to a family of four, along with food stamps. That amounts to about $10,000 today after adjusting for inflation. Jimmy Carter also proposed a guaranteed income, but it never came to a vote in Congress.
Some wonder whether it’s time to reconsider a guaranteed paycheck. In his 2007 book, The Failed Welfare Revolution: America’s Struggle Over Guaranteed Income Policy, sociologist Brian Steensland questioned why such policies were not being discussed in Washington today.
“Many of the same problems that brought them to the public agenda in the 1960s and 1970sólow wages, economic restructuring, and inadequate welfare coverageócontinue to be pressing concerns in contemporary America,” he wrote.
Want to Innovate? Work Constantly (And Study Physics)
When TED curator Chris Anderson asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk how he manages to be creative, he had a short answer: “I work a lot.”
Anderson pushed for more detail. He noted that Musk had become like Steve Jobs, a CEO able to juggle technology, business and design at the same time.
Musk paused and then gave his advice for anyone who wants to stand out in business: Study physics.
“When you want to do something new, you have to apply the physics approach,” Musk said. “Physics is really sort of figuring out how to discover new things that are counterintuitive, like quantum mechanics.”
His final tip: Be willing to listen to negative feedback, because it can be valuable and “hardly anyone” does it.
Source: Chip Cutter, Editor at LinkedIn