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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!

8件のコメント

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    gunnarbu

    Hello Katrina,

     

    A very relevant discussion, indeed. I think one of the most important skills will be to continuously be open for new skills. Not only new traditional skills, but we must also learn to be better at using our creative sides in search of the best solutions.  Solutions are often, of course not always, somehow connected to IT and increasingly to AI etc. We do not all have to be IT specialists, but we must all embrace and understand how IT/AI can help us.

    In the ever faster changing world we need to be keep ourselves up to date. This will not only mean to acquire new skills as and when needed, but also to be open for taking on new roles and areas of responsibility in your current job, whatever serves the company best. Herein lies the potential conflict/dilemma – we as people are inherently wary of too much change … Perhaps the older we are, the more wary? I am 65 years old, and I have the last 20 years been fortunate to work in organisations that were driving change, and I have seen and adopted the importance of this, but I have certainly also seen many peers struggling and even opposing the necessary changes, mostly from a personal point of view, not understanding or wanting to understand the importance of the changes for the company.

    It seems to me that the younger generations are more open and adaptable to change, which is promising for the future, however it remains to be seen if they also will tend to become more end more wary of change as they grow older. What do you think?

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    Mohamed Nagah Hassanin

    Hello gunnarbu,

    Thank you for opening the discussion here. We want to learn from you. You have 25 years of experience more than me. You mentioned that you have been fortunate to work in companies that drive change. I find it interesting for me and for people who will join the discussion soon. Could you give us specific examples from your experience where change was impraced and where it was rejected? I appreciate your response here.

    Mohamed, Egypt
    EN>AR translator and proofreader

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    gunnarbu

    Mohamed. Obviously, I cannot go into specifics regarding companies and peers, but I can give some generalized examples. Mostly we are talking about automating business processes, both administrative and operational. Often requiring new skills for users and operators. Not only user skills per se, but equally important the ability to understand and exploit even further the potential of the IT and automation systems in question. Resistance could be in the form of fear of having to learn new ways to work, or even fear of becoming redundant.

    We can also talk about mindset and daring to trust new technologies. For decades companies have talked about condition-based maintenance, as opposed to periodic/planned maintenance. Systems are in place for condition monitoring (E.g. vibration monitoring of a turbine or an engine). Shall we dare to trust the condition monitoring system and only do maintenance when prompted, or shall we stick to the prescribed planned maintenance schedules in the manual?

    Maybe we are drifting a bit away from what Katrina is really asking about – I think perhaps I would say IT-literacy is one of the most important skills for the future.

  • 0
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    Katrina Paterson

    Hello, Gunnar and Mohamed! Thanks to both of you for contributing to our discussion.

    Gunnar, I think that what you say about being open to change is very interesting. I would say that for the most part I agree that younger people are generally more adaptable and willing to embrace change. However, at the same time, I sometimes feel that younger people are very idealistic compared to older people, and so in a sense, perhaps older people have the benefit of pragmatism and accepting things the way they are? (I'm 30, so I'm not sure whether that makes me 'young' or 'old'). I sometimes feel that technology brings changes, but not always necessarily for the better, and the question of redundancy that you mention is very striking in this sense, I think. Sometimes the fear of becoming irrelevant can feel very real, and I would imagine more so to people who are, say, of university age now and still have all of this change ahead of them. When there's so much hype about 'machines stealing our jobs' then I understand why individual people do as you say and resist change for their own personal reasons. 

    As an aside, and I understand that this, too, is maybe drifting away a bit, but do you feel that jobs that are replaced by technology will be compensated for by the creation of new jobs, and if yes, do you think the new jobs will be of equal or lower quality to the old jobs? Or greater?

    I agree that it's important to be continuously equipping ourselves with new skills, and I guess open to learning in general, and I'm interested that you say that IT-literacy is an important skill for the future. I do think that focusing on continuing professional development is a good thing both in the sense of helping us to develop specific skills and in the sense of generally keeping our minds open and active.

    I'm really interested to hear what you, and Mohamed, and anyone else has to say about this topic.

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    Mohamed Nagah Hassanin

    Hello Katrina and Gunnar,

    I think that technology is a great tool that should be embraced and harnessed to the benefits of humanity. For example, I have been using memoQ in most of my translations for 5 years. My productivity has increased and it offered me great relief. I get suggestions from different sources as I translate. When I have all these resources I take the right decision to choose the right terms according to the context. So, it's me who is driving technology. I have been investing in my time during the lockdown by learning new things and this should pay off when this situation ends. Technology is changing the face of the world this year. The world is going to be a different place after the pandemic. Whether we like it or not, we must be ready for this.

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    rocypa

    Hello everyone!
    I'm a researcher, so I'm loving the new technological era. We all have to be specialized in at least one subject area. But what has changed most recently is that we all also have to know a little bit about everything. People who are not from the technological subject area should know, for example, to use the current technological resources. People who are from technological subject area must know a little about management, administration, psychology, linguistics, among other areas, to be able to follow their path. New times, new needs!

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    gunnarbu

    Katarina asks: Do you feel that jobs that are replaced by technology will be compensated for by the creation of new jobs, and if yes, do you think the new jobs will be of equal or lower quality to the old jobs? Or greater?

    No simple answer here. I would say yes and no. Unfortunately, some very routine type jobs will simply disappear and the emplyees will become redundant as part of automation and rationalisation programs. Banking, accounting and manufacturing are examples of this. When people stop using traditional mail, postal sevices are affected etc. Typically routine and mundane tasks are automated first, but today, with AI, ever mor complicated tasks can also be automated. Some, but far from all employees will have the opportunity to get new jobs in the same company, often more interesting and challenging jobs. Take accounting and finance as an example, instead of punching invoices and other tedious bookeping tasks which can readily be automated, the staff can focus more on economic and financial analysis, statistics and controlling to support better business decisions. Mohameds example of memoQ is an example of an automation that does not make him redundant, but instead makes him able to be more precise and more productive. Translation tools with AI will be a great help for translators, automating some of the ‘obvious’ translation, so that translators can focus on the difficult parts and increase productivity and quality.

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    Katrina Paterson

    Hello again everyone! 

    Mohamed - thanks a lot for mentioning CAT tools as an example of human-driven technology that allows us to achieve greater productivity and work more quickly, comfortably and effectively. I have to admit that I hadn't even thought of this example, but, yes, I think it's true that most of us translators would be lost without our CAT tools. It's not just that they take care of many of the more boring aspects of translation such as maintaining formatting; they also help so much in terms of ensuring consistency in documents with a lot of repetition, or consistency across a series of documents if these are being translated by different people. The option of using term bases is really useful in this sense, too. So, yes, I think that's definitely a good example of a technological innovation which makes our lives easier and, I guess, helps us to focus our minds more on the more creative, 'conceptual' elements of translation, such as how to translate idioms into our target language without losing their meaning, and so on. It's great that you're using the lockdown to learn new skills, and I think, as we've been saying a lot in this thread, that this is something important which, as you say, will hopefully pay off once things get back to relative 'normality' again.

    Gunnar - What you say about the automation and rationalisation of routine tasks is very interesting as it follows on well from Mohamed's point about CAT tools freeing us from the more mundane elements of our work activities. I think that what you say about automation taking over boring and repetitive elements of work and enabling us to focus more on analytical, or, I guess depending on the industry, creative tasks sounds very promising. What I always wonder, though, is whether the kind of people who are doing the routine jobs will be able to move up into the more 'conceptual' jobs or whether they'll need more training in order to do so? And if they do train up and successfully move into a new position, what will happen if that position in itself becomes redundant and the person then needs to look for a third position? I think this is something that both people and governments will have to think about much more in the years to come. Perhaps, in an ideal world, governments could subsidise training so that people can move between positions and adapt themselves to changing demands; or perhaps companies could do the same for their employees.

    Rodrigo - I like your enthusiasm about the technological era! I'm really interested in what you say about people needing to know a little bit about everything. In fact, my instinctive reaction would have been that as technology becomes more powerful and more fine-tuned, then we would actually need to be more, rather than less, specialised, but looking at our general discussion, it seems that the consensus is very much the opposite: that we'll all need to be adaptable and comfortable with trying new things. That's quite exciting in some ways. I'm particularly interested when you say that people with a technological background should also know a little about psychology. I think that a lot of people feel that technology will somehow surpass the more 'human' side of our lives and will make us somehow colder, more rational, less emotional and less spontaneous. Yet I think that in order to be able to use technological innovations for the benefit of humans, then we need to design and implement them from a 'human' point of view and it's here that psychology and other more 'soft' sciences can be really important, I think. What would you say?

    I'm really enjoying reading all of your thoughts on this fascinating and very relevant topic. Please don't hesitate to keep your ideas coming!

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