Bulletin 19 October 2018. On technology, the nature of work and long haul flights

Augmenting all kinds of intelligence

By the time this lands in your inbox, I will have been on and off an aeroplane, having been to a conference (GitHub Universe) in San Francisco. I’m glad I went, but I’m also reminded of what put me off long-distance travel a few years back— you can pretty much write off a week.

But wait. How can I be glad I went, if at the same time I’m writing off a week? I didn’t deliver any reports, for sure. At the same time, I learned, I engaged, I advised a bit, all reasons why I do this job. I was not alone: 1,500 people came from multiple countries to do the same. 

There’s an easy point to make here, which is that we still need physical presence to get certain things done, at a certain level. Frustrating it may be for video conferencing providers, but you can’t beat a face to face meeting. We know this; more important is what it means for the future nature of work. 

Cutting to the chase, we’re told many jobs will disappear due to AI/automation/disintermediation/cloud/<insert buzzword here>. We shouldn’t be surprised about this — whole businesses are disappearing, taking their jobs with them. 

At the same time, whole new businesses are appearing and with them, new types of work. Data scientists, knowledge workers, programmers and engineers are exponentially in demand, even as transactional tasks are superseded or automated away. 

But more than this. A fear could be that only ‘smart’ people have a place in this brave new world: achieve post-degree-level status or find yourself consigned to the railway arches. A future for the educated few, and not for the broader populace. 

But then, we have the fact that I, and millions of others, are travelling huge distances in order to get the job done. Human interaction cannot be automated away, even if it can be made more efficient. Which means people will have to be, and stay good at, well, being people. 

It has been written that nine different kinds of intelligence exist. Each of these can be augmented in some way through technology, but a mix of personalities will continue to be what makes the world go round. I have a plane ticket to prove it. 

With the above in mind, here’s a couple of articles for the week. 


The best practice game changer that is GitHub Actions

First, a view from the conference. I’m always wary of seeing any new release of a product as a ‘game changer’ but a couple of factors play in the favour of this one: first that 31,000,000 developers have been the ability to build development workflows; and second, there’s no particular limit on what these workflows can look like. I have a feeling demand may go right up to the level of supply. 


The third journey: the travel industry may not be transforming, but it is certainly transitioning

And second, topical, topical, on the nature of travel. I am loving speaking to travel providers across the board about how their organisations, and the industry as a whole, are changing. “The real innovation is coming from those thinking about what people want to do, as opposed to where they want to stay or how they want to travel.” 


More Smart Shift next week. As ever, thanks for reading.

Best, Jon

Also published on Medium.

Bulletin 19 October 2018. On technology, the nature of work and long haul flights

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