November 28, 2017 @ 11:02 PM

The Future, Jobs and You

A Presentation by PK Agarwal,

Regional Dean & CEO of Northeastern University - Silicon Valley

Written by Lisa Chai


The Future, Jobs and YouMany people worry that the disruptive technologies that are occurring now will put a tremendous amount of people out of work.

While there is concern for certain industries and their jobs, these new technologies are creating a vast new set of industries and jobs to go along with them.

In fact, the innovative change facing our economy today is not the first time innovation has transformed how people work and relate to one another. Think back to the printing press. This innovation allowed for knowledge to be available to more people than when books were written and illustrated by hand with great detail and slow painstaking progress. Similarly, today's growth of the internet and exchange of ideas and knowledge via the web has resulted in an explosion of sharing knowledge across the globe. Disruptive technologies change economies by creating new jobs in different industries than those that previously existed. With the creation of the printing press, for instance, many jobs were created that were specific to that new industry.

PK Agarwal draws another example from exactly 100 years ago in 1917. What advice could you give a horse cart driver in 1917 with the information we know that has changed in the last 100 years related to the changeover from horse drawn carts for transportation to cars? Looking now at 2017, what advice would you give to a current taxi driver, truck driver or bus driver looking to the future and the rapid rate of progress on driverless vehicles? Those horse cart drivers who chose not to adapt to the new industry of cars and the industries that support cars - gas stations, petroleum exploration, car mechanics, auto body shops, etc. - were the workers that were not able to reap the rewards of the creation of these new industries and jobs!

Often, new industries, have unintended consequences - for instance, much of today's medical care costs are associated with the high number of automobile accidents annually - 32,000 fatalities, 3.9 million non-fatal injuries, 24 million damaged cars all of which are caused 90% of the time by driver error. Industries and businesses that currently cater to meeting these health care and car repair needs would feel the impact of driverless cars that create far fewer accidents!


The Five Big Tech Trends

1.       Internet of Things (IoT) - all things Smart, Digital and Connected.

Thermostats, doorbells, drones, driverless cars, refrigerators, sneakers, toothbrushes, and even baby pacifiers!

Current IoT: 10 Billion Devices (1.5 devices/person)

2020 Estimate: 50 Billion Devices (8 devices/person)


2.       Big Data


360 degree view of the consumer


Predictive Analytics

There are ways to become more current with Big Data needs such as 8-16 week Certificate programs through universities or if on a tighter budget, by completing courses/programs on


3.       Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality

To clarify the difference for those who are not entirely sure (including me), virtual reality is "all make believe" - think: video game or flight simulator. Augmented Reality starts with a base of real information - say a picture of your room and then adds color to your walls to "augment your reality" to see how your furniture and space would look like with walls of a different color or curtains of a new pattern. A useful example is also a VeinFinder app for nurses to easily identify a vein for a blood draw by taking a picture of a wrist or arm with a smartphone and "finding" you veins which gets overlaid on the image.


4.       Security and Privacy in a Connected World

In 2016/2017 - more than half of the US population has been affected by some type of data breach. Most concerning is Ransomware - in which criminals access your computer, take it over, encrypt it and lock it. This can be a concern for important things connected to the internet such as pacemakers, blood monitors, etc. In addition, Alexa, Echo, Google Home - have a different concern, they are always "listening" for their "start phrase" - but, what happens to this data that needs to be listened to until the "start phrase?"


5.       Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Machines are getting smarter to figure out patterns and make predictions. Nest (the home thermometer) "learns" that you turn on the heat each morning at 6:30am and turn it off when everyone leaves for work at 7:30 am each weekday. AI can read mammograms with 99% accuracy whereas radiologists have 85% accuracy. Which is better?


While so many of these areas seems alarming to some degree, these five areas are huge areas of job creation. The main message regarding the jobs of the future is to never underestimate the value of higher education. In today's jobs, a Master's Degree is the new Bachelor's Degree. Change your mindset - is this technological tsunami a problem or a magnificent opportunity? Be a lifelong learner! Be familiar with lots of things, but be good at one thing. As a result you will then be adaptable under an umbrella of jobs.


Also, think about either:

Reskilling - jumping the job curve to the jobs in the new technologies

Upskilling - up skill on your current curve (get a Certificate or Master's to be more skilled in that area)


Three things to help you in this new disruptive economy:

1.       Education

2.       Network - not just when you need it, but always!

3.       Soft Skills - people skills, all employers are always in need of people who collaborate well.


Finally - Dream with Passion. Live with Purpose. Make a Difference.


PK's presentation raises important questions for all of us and applies to all industries. In what way, is your industry being disrupted? How will you ride the wave of change?


Lisa ChaiLisa Chai has been a Financial Analyst for consumer product companies and an economic consulting firm prior to her career break to raise her children during which she is an active volunteer in her local and broader community.