The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts

The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts

Daniel Susskind

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0198713398

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book predicts the decline of today's professions and describes the people and systems that will replace them. In an Internet society, according to Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind, we will neither need nor want doctors, teachers, accountants, architects, the clergy, consultants, lawyers, and many others, to work as they did in the 20th century.

The Future of the Professions explains how 'increasingly capable systems' -- from telepresence to artificial intelligence -- will bring fundamental change in the way that the 'practical expertise' of specialists is made available in society.

The authors challenge the 'grand bargain' -- the arrangement that grants various monopolies to today's professionals. They argue that our current professions are antiquated, opaque and no longer affordable, and that the expertise of their best is enjoyed only by a few. In their place, they propose six new models for producing and distributing expertise in society.

The book raises important practical and moral questions. In an era when machines can out-perform human beings at most tasks, what are the prospects for employment, who should own and control online expertise, and what tasks should be reserved exclusively for people?

Based on the authors' in-depth research of more than ten professions, and illustrated by numerous examples from each, this is the first book to assess and question the relevance of the professions in the 21st century.

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below.1 2.1. Health In The Patient Will See You Now, Eric Topol, cardiologist and professor of genomics, anticipates that ‘[w]e are embarking on a time when each individual will have all their own medical data and the computing power to process it … from womb to tomb … even to prevent an illness before it happens’.2 There are many other commentators who are making predictions in this spirit. And the contrast with the current and long-established practice of medicine by doctors could not be

current pressure on this traditional approach is cost. Dickens himself may have overstated the problem when he referred to legal papers as ‘mountains of costly nonsense’,133 but most legal and court services have indeed become unaffordable to their users, from consumers to global businesses. In some countries, such as England and Australia, the legal market has been liberalized, so lawyers no longer have a monopoly over legal work. Non-lawyers can own and run legal businesses, while law firms

involves progressing forwards through the rules driven by the facts and the law, while planning entails reasoning backwards through the rules in search of legal and factual premises that can justify a target tax liability.268 This underlying similarity is echoed by thought leaders in the world of tax who say that much tax planning work will also soon be conducted by machines. As for those who advise on tax deals, accounting firms at the leading edge are looking (as are progressive corporate

partnership model, and consolidation. No account of the future of the professions would be complete without consideration of each of these. Liberalization Liberalization has some pedigree. For a long time, consumer activists have lined up with sociologists and social reformers in claiming that the professions are monopolies—unjustifiably restrictive and patently anti-competitive. These closed communities of specialists, the argument goes, do not offer sufficient choice for their users.

deference that was characteristic of mystified professional work in the past. 1 David H. Maister, Managing the Professional Service Firm (1993), p. xv. 2 As noted in Chapter 1, we take the term ‘post-professional society’ from Illich. See Ivan Illich, ‘Disabling Professions’ in Disabling Professions, ed. Irving K. Zola et al. (2000). 3 W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy (2005). 4 Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997). 5 Paul Geroski and Constantinos Markides,

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