Futureproof: 9 Rules for Machine-Age Humans

New York Times bestselling author and tech columnist’s counter-intuitive guide to staying relevant – and employable – in the machine age by becoming irreplaceably human. 

‘Kevin Roose provides a clear, compelling strategy for surviving the next wave of technology with our jobs – and souls – intact… FUTUREPROOF is the survival guide you need.’ Charles Duhigg, THE POWER OF HABIT

In this timely, counterintuitive, and highly practical guide to the age of A.I. and automation, a New York Times technology columnist argues that the key to success is making yourself more human, not less.

The machines are here. After decades of sci-fi doomsaying and marketing hype, advanced A.I. and automation technologies have leapt out of research labs and Silicon Valley engineering departments and into the center of our lives. Robots once primarily threatened blue-collar manufacturing jobs, but today’s machines are being trained to do the work of lawyers, doctors, investment bankers, and other white-collar jobs previously considered safe from automation’s reach. The world’s biggest corporations are racing to automate jobs, and some experts predict that A.I could put millions of people out of work. Meanwhile, runaway algorithms have already changed the news we see, the politicians we elect, and the ways we interact with each other.

But all is not lost. With a little effort, we can become futureproof. In Futureproof: 9 Rules for Machine-Age Humans, New York Times technology columnist Kevin Roose lays out an optimistic vision of how people can thrive in the machine age by rethinking their relationship with technology and making themselves irreplaceably human.

In nine pragmatic, accessible lessons, Roose draws on interviews with leading technologists, trips to the A.I. frontier, and centuries’ worth of history to prepare readers to live, work, and thrive in the coming age of intelligent machines. He shares the secrets of people and organizations that have successfully survived technological change, including a 19th-century rope-maker and a Japanese auto worker, and explains how people, organizations, and communities can apply their lessons to safeguard their own futures. The lessons include:

– Do work that is surprising, social, and scarce (the types of work machines can’t do)
– Break your phone addiction with the help of a rubber band
– Work in an office
– Treat A.I. like the office gorilla
– Resist “hustle porn” and efficiency culture and do less, slower

Roose’s examination of the future rejects the conventional wisdom that in order to compete with machines, we have to become more like them — hyper-efficient, data-driven, code-writing workhorses. Instead, he says, we should let machines be machines, and focus on doing the kinds of creative, inspiring, and meaningful work only humans can do.

Duffy’s Thoughts on Futureproof: 9 Rules for Machine-Age Humans

I finished this book a couple of days ago and I’m now constantly noticing the way automation is aiding, and influencing my life every day. When Spotify offers up ‘music I may like’, or Amazon emails me with a nudge reminding me about products I had browsed I think twice about following the prompt. When Woolworths gives me a shortlist of groceries I may have forgotten before I check out, I realise that although my life is made easier, AI is well and truly embedded in my life.

“The…Boomer…Remover?” I asked

“Yeah,” he said. “I mean, that’s not the official name. But our clients have way too many old, overpaid middle-managers who aren’t really necessary anymore. Our platform lets us replace those people”

– Excerpt from Futureproof

Author Kevin Roose writes in great detail about the global shift in the wake of AI development and how we, as humans can survive and carve out careers for ourselves and avoid being replaced by an automated system. It’s equal parts interesting and daunting. We can stop innovation and technological advances, but we can make ethical choices. AI and robots can do a lot of things, but there are also risks and flaws when relying solely on our machine overlords to run our lives.

In 2006, when Facebook added a feature called the ‘news feed’, it didn’t look like a job-killing robot-it looked like a way to find out which of your college crushes was newly single-but, it morphed into a product that distributed information to billions of people, dominating the online ad market and reducing the demand for newspapers and magazines. – Futureproof

There is an opinion that although AI and technology have taken away jobs and in some areas, even destroyed entire industries, that new careers and jobs have been created which were not around ten or fifteen years ago. However, are these newly created jobs dulling our minds? Across the globe, there are millions of people earning barely liveable wages as social media moderators. Scrolling for hours and hours a day removing content or posting warnings about content that breaks company guidelines. Instagram and Only Fans stars and influencers acetone their bodies to oblivion to earn money by selling products or themselves. Is this really where we want to be?

Futureproof; 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation left me thinking “What will happen to me? Will my career be replaced by a machine?”. There are bots that can write content (poorly) and there are plenty of administrative processes which can be automated. However, the creative projects and the topics that need addressing with sensitivity and empathy still need a human to manage and navigate. So, for now, I’m safe, but I do wonder what jobs will be available for my nieces and nephews in 20 years. Which careers will survive? Which will disappear and which new ones will be created for the next generation?

Check out Duffy’s other favourite reads!

Futureproof book review
Published by Hachette and available at Booktopia and all good book stores