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Event Summaries
March 3, 2016

Event Summary: ‘The Future of the Professions: How Technology will Transform the Work of Human Experts’

Henry Jackson Society

by Leonard Behrens

On the 3rd of March, Richard Susskind and his son Daniel Susskind gave a talk about their recent publication, titled The Future of the Professions: How Technology will transform the Work of Human Experts. The event was chaired by Lord Palmer of Childs Hill and was hosted by The Henry Jackson Society in the Houses of Parliament.

Opening their talk, Mr Daniel Susskind began by discussing the origin of their work and investigation carried out by his father into legal scholarship. Having first delved into detail on how the advancement of the internet and how emails would affect the legal profession, Professor Richard Susskind quickly found himself approached from other professionals who pointed out similar trends, leading to the book’s initial outset.

Asking the question of where technological advances may take us and how they affect the evolution of skilled professions, Daniel Susskind identified 8 careers, ranging from architecture to academia, where technology had in one way or another made the professions, as practiced by qualified practitioners less relevant, as the services became more broadly accessible.

Daniel Susskind went on to illustrate that these professions existed primarily due to a lack of individual expertise in said areas, and that the transition from a print-based to an internet-based society had permitted a higher division of knowledge previously unavailable.

Afterwards, Richard Susskind spoke on the commodification of services through technology, and how the capability improvement in modern AI above could lead to professions becoming threatened. He also pointed out that as a result of this development, new positions would emerge in the professions, and technological advances would ideally assist these new duties and professions. He also emphasized the means of how machines were more effective.

Closing his talk, Professor R. Susskind pointed out the moral dimensions of this development, how the change should best assist humanity and what it meant for the professions. Though there are pessimists and optimists within this topic, he pointed out the incredible pace at which technology was moving forward and how privileged one was to witness this unprecedented development.