April 24, 2024
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April 24, 2024
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What’s in Store for ’24: 10 Expectations

(Credit: Freepik.com)

The coming year, 2024, will be the most dynamic, most transitional and most impactful year in history – at least for the American job market, most likely for the entire economy and very likely for the world overall.

Hyperbole? Not if you’ve been paying attention—close attention—to what’s going on and to what the implications are, both near and long term. In this post, we’ll have a look at history to set the backdrop for my claim, as well as a plain assessment of things obvious and things obscure.

But first, a disclaimer. I will not be making projections or predictions. Economists make projections and fools make predictions. I know I’m not the former and hope I’m not the latter. But, as an independent career coach and job market observer for the past 26 years, I’m comfortable with offering my expectations for whatever they’re worth.

 

Dynamic, Transformational And Impactful

Without one qualifier, my statement could be very easily open to debate, as two years in my lifetime—1968 and 2020—stand alone as years that changed the world in a thunderous fashion. But the changes they generated, societally in 1968 in the US and functionally around the globe in 2020, weren’t as complete and as multidimensional as what I expect for 2024.

 

Why? A.I.: The Biggest Single Change in History

In his landmark book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), Thomas Kuhn stated: “Intellectual progress is not steady and gradual. It is marked by sudden paradigm shifts.” (Interesting side note: It is from Kuhn in that book that we derived the expression “paradigm shift.”) Now, if we speed through 3.5 million years of history and look at technological advances that were civilization changers, we start with the very first: stone tools. It took another 1.7 million years to come up with the second: the controlled use of fire, and another million and a half for clothing to change things. Then things started to speed up: agriculture, alphabets, the wheel, agriculture, printing, the telephone, the light bulb, flight, antibiotics, TV, the transistor, computers, space, the internet, social media and now A.I. Apologies to the many I had to overlook to comply with space restrictions, but you get the idea.

Unequivocally, A.I. surpasses them all in long- and short-term potential.

 

What’s Different About A.I.?

The point here is (with some of those changers it’s evident and with others it’s opaque) that with every one of those sudden developments, we humans have figured out how to use them both constructively and destructively. Every single one. Without fail. Which, of course, presents unprecedented ethical challenges over and above the technical issues. I don’t have the space to list them, but you should have the imagination for it.

Now we have A.I., which isn’t exactly new. Alan Turing pioneered it in the 1940s and algorithms are much older than that, but for all intents and purposes, it’s new. And it’s clearly the biggest thing we’ve ever done.

 

Regulation or Acceleration?

In two visible could-we-versus-should-we conundrums, the EU has been working on regulatory issues for three years, and just this year President Joe Biden met with key players in this struggle, issuing an executive order that falls far short but is, at least, a good start.

Make no mistake, this is existential.

 

10 Expectations

So, with this awesome backdrop, here are 10 expectations that will affect our job market, your careers and the world in general:

  1. A.I., especially the ethics issue. Said it already: the biggest in history.
  2. Quantum Computing. We’re in the early stages – innovators and early adopters – but this will make supercomputers look like hand-held calculators.
  3. Fusion Energy. We’re 30 years away from commercialization, but everything starts somewhere. This started on December 5, 2022.
  4. Near-Shoring. Off-shoring is too fragile (we’ve learned that the hard way) and re-shoring is too costly. Near-shoring will develop our Central American neighbors as partners.
  5. Transportation. Driverless cars? Not so much yet. Driverless trucks? For sure.
  6. More Tech Layoffs, but a shift, too. A reported 300,000 tech layoffs this year (60% up from 2022), but many of these jobs were shifted, not lost. To continue.
  7. Continuing Hybridization of hybrid work. More than just on-site or remote. Imagine the permutations, Also to continue.
  8. The Four-Day Week. Already happening around the world. How does 52 three-day weekends a year sound to you?
  9. Degrees vs. Certificates. A delineator in the works. Who are we? Who do we want to be?
  10. Politics. Always an agitating force. This year? Watch out!

More to come, Promise.

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