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The Future of the Professions is a book authored by Daniel Susskind and Richard Susskind, released in 2015 by the Oxford University Press. The PDF attachment contains more information about the professional background of Richard Susskind.

The book examines the ways in which the internet and other modern technologies have revolutionised human society and the impact of technology on professional employment. Today’s professions, predict Susskind and Susskind, will continue to decline and be replaced by technology and machines. The Future of the Professions explores which systems will replace people and what tasks or areas of expertise should be left in the hands of humans.

Matthew Ledvina has a passion for learning about all things related to artificial intelligence, with a particular interest in the topic of technology replacing workers. Ledvina has keenly read The Future of Professions along with various other academic books on the subject.

Dissolution of the Professions

The book, which is subtitled How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, provides an account of how the professional landscape will and can change as it adapts to new technologies. The authors discuss why we need to stop assuming that professional work will continue into the future largely unchanged if app-enabled, looking at disruptive innovation in sectors as diverse as health, education, management consultancy, architecture, tax advice and even the clergy. Across all sectors, the authors find that the introduction and use of technology will give a wider base of consumers easier access to expertise, rendering human experts largely redundant in the process.

The infographic attachment gives an overview of employment statistics in the UK for the most recent quarter, October to December 2018.

Why We Need Experts

It is undoubtable that, as a species, we need access to individual expertise from time to time. Complex skills such as educating children, arguing a case in court and diagnosing illnesses require specialist knowledge and it would be impossible for each human to amass the required amount of knowledge to navigate through all of life independently. Human professionals can not only amass the knowledge required to navigate their own particular area of expertise – they are then able to tailor that knowledge to meet the needs of the individuals who use their services. Professionals start to become experts through education, research and learning. They then expand on that textbook knowledge through real-life experiences and stay abreast of new developments in their field.

Technology: Cost – Benefit Analysis

In The Future of the Professions, Susskind and Susskind argue for the widespread adoption of technology across our professional services. They apply cost-benefit analysis logic to argue the case, pointing out that the use of technology will drastically lower the cost of accessing professional and expert advice. This in turn will make this advice accessible to a wider demographic of the population. The counterarguments, such as the need for empathy, preference for personal interaction and the loss of craft, are weighed against this benefit and found wanting by the authors.

Book Predictions

The authors make a series of predictions in The Future of the Professions. These include declining demand for conventional professionals and traditional professions. However, the authors also predict a rise in emerging new roles running in tandem with this decline, citing examples such as para-professionals, process analysts, craftspeople and even specialist empathisers. An argument is made by Susskind and Susskind that as a species have a moral obligation to make expert knowledge more widely accessible through transforming institutions with technology.

You can learn more about author Daniel Susskind in the short video attachment.

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