The world as we know it is a complex and constantly-evolving place, and it seems that the 2020s will be a decade of considerable social and technological change. Developments in machine learning and digital innovation have the potential to make substantial changes to our lives (and are perhaps already doing so). But how can we equip ourselves for an increasingly digital future?
There are some subject areas that have obvious direct applications in a digital world, such as the so-called ‘STEM subjects’ ('Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’). Having a background in any one of these areas is likely to open many doors for the data scientists, machine learning engineers, and algorithm developers of the future. Having a scientific mindset is also important when it comes to tasks such as analyzing information, spotting connections and drawing conclusions.
But what if your interests lie in other areas? Well, there are many other less obviously science-focused skills which are also essential in today’s and tomorrow’s world, and many of these are qualities which linguists, by their very nature, possess, such as natural curiosity, critical thinking skills, and an ability to pay close attention to detail without losing sight of the overall picture. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, a data-driven world will also require people to show creativity and emotional intelligence as a complement to the more ‘analytical’ side of digital innovation. This is something which is particularly important when it comes to solving problems and finding solutions to human challenges - and our humanity is an essential quality which cannot, and should not, be diminished by the onward march of technology..
Perhaps the most important attribute to have at a time of digital disruption is an open mind and a willingness to embrace change. Given the pace at which technology is developing, we could potentially find ourselves working in positions that don’t even exist yet. In this context, resilience and a high degree of mental flexibility could be our most important tools when looking to a digital future.
What do you imagine to be the most important skills for the future? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!