The Most Im­por­tant Question of Our Time

Bulletin - - Editorial -

Pro­grams that rely on ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence can use in­tri­cate al­go­rithms to de­vise com­pli­cated in­vest­ment strate­gies, steer au­to­mo­biles or make chess grand­mas­ters look like novices. This is an im­pres­sive achieve­ment. At the same time, a Ja­panese study has re­vealed how in­cred­i­bly dumb com­put­ers still are: Change a sin­gle pixel in a pic­ture and the com­puter thinks the horse dis­played in it is a frog.

This ex­am­ple il­lus­trates that ma­chines (still) can­not do ev­ery­thing that peo­ple can do – and vice versa, of course. For­tu­nately, ro­bots are mostly good in ar­eas that we usu­ally find bor­ing: repet­i­tive, mo­not­o­nous pro­cesses. The photo es­say “Jobs of the Fu­ture” (p. 9) shows how peo­ple and ma­chines might work to­gether in the fu­ture – and cre­ate an in­ter­est­ing work­ing world.

The in­ter­ac­tion is not only har­mo­nious – ma­chines can also fully re­place jobs. So the most im­por­tant question of our time is: “Will we be put out of work?” Ob­vi­ously, there are no de­fin­i­tive state­ments about the fu­ture. But in his es­say (p. 6), eco­nomic his­to­rian To­bias Strau­mann ar­gues that anx­i­ety about the “end of work” has al­ways been un­founded.

Peter Go­erke, a mem­ber of the Ex­ec­u­tive Board and Chief Hu­man Re­sources Of­fi­cer at Credit Suisse, is even con­vinced that the fight for tal­ented work­ers will in­ten­sify as a re­sult of dig­i­tal­iza­tion: “The hu­man fac­tor will be­come more im­por­tant” (p. 30). And with re­spect to choos­ing a ca­reer, he ad­vises young peo­ple to “have the courage to do what you en­joy do­ing.” Are you per­haps a vet­eri­nar­ian, a chef or a po­lice of­fi­cer? The im­pact of dig­i­tal­iza­tion on your pro­fes­sion (and 85 others) is re­vealed in a study con­ducted by Credit Suisse’s re­search depart­ment (p. 34).

Mil­len­ni­als are bear­ing the brunt of work­place dis­rup­tion. The eighth Credit Suisse Youth Barom­e­ter (start­ing on p. 57) is ded­i­cated to them. Al­though most young peo­ple in Switzer­land feel quite se­cure, many re­spon­dents in the United States, Brazil and Sin­ga­pore doubt that their jobs will even ex­ist in the fu­ture. The mem­bers of this gen­er­a­tion are se­ri­ous – but also en­gaged. And thanks to the shar­ing econ­omy, they are de­vel­op­ing an en­tirely new con­cept of own­er­ship.

Your ed­i­to­rial team

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