Entrepreneurship Seen as Solution at NC’s Emerging Issues Forum

Jim attended the Emerging Issues Forum and wanted to share his comments and insights with Startup Southerner.

The people of North Carolina are the luckiest in the world. Every year we know the future before the rest of you.

See, for the past 31 years, we have hosted an event in Raleigh called the Emerging Issues Forum, which explores issues six months to five years into the future at the Emerging Issues Institute, a think (and do) tank at North Carolina State University. 

The topic for this year’s event, which is wrapping up today, was all about robots stealing jobs, or the more modern term, automation and how the economy and people of North Carolina need to adjust their skills and talents to thrive. Yes, even white-collar jobs are being changed with automation in fields such as financial bookkeeping, recruiting (see Raleigh-based EmployUs), legal work and even writing (another Raleigh-based startup, Automated Insights). We heard from state officials, as well as entrepreneurs and at least three speakers (Dambisa Moyo, Phillip Auerswald and Jaylen Bledsoe) whom I wouldn’t be surprised to see on a Time magazine cover soon.

Consistent message here at #IEIFutureWork . Inclusion and diversity are key to NC future! Thank you for your insight @wadhwa

— Nancy Crouch (@nancy_crouch) February 8, 2016


The CEO of Automated Insights Robbie Allen was one of the speakers, and one of his slides really resonated with me: “Humans + Software > Software.”

In other words, robots aren’t really replacing our jobs; they’re enhancing what we can do. To illustrate this point, the speaker and author Martin Ford explained that General Motors in 1979 had 840,000 workers and $11 billion in earnings, while today Google has 38,000 employees and $14 billion in earnings. So, Google is 20 percent more productive in earning power with fewer employees by magintudes.

Potential areas for renewed employment….artisanship. Good news for all you makers out there! #IEIFutureWork

— Ted Boyd (@Greenmarketguy) February 8, 2016

Another speaker, Devin Fidler, made some interesting points that software and algorithms have taken the place of middle managers. That software can activate, deactivate and reconfigure resources when they are needed. What are the peak times drivers are needed for Uber? The software can now make those decisions instead of a middle manager who looks like Dilbert.

So what should you do if you’re concerned about robots stealing jobs?

Allen had another great slide: “Future Proof Job? … Entrepreneur.”

“1 job that is future-proof is entrepreneur…you have more control over your destiny than just about any other occupation.” #IEIFutureWork

— ExitEvent (@exitevent) February 8, 2016