The Era of Qualification is Over

I’ve been sitting on this idea for a while and came across an article that put it well:

“The returns to factual knowledge are falling, continuing a trend that started with databases, search engines and Wikipedia. It is no longer so profitable to be a lawyer who knows a large amount of accumulated case law. Instead, the skills of synthesis and persuasion are more critical for success.”

This applies to almost every field, not just the legal industry. Factual knowledge will continue to become more easily attainable and transactional work that’s based on factual knowledge will become even more commoditized. Resourcefulness, hard work, critical thinking, and persuasion will become exponentially more important. And although these qualities have always been valuable, AI will quickly accelerate their importance by increasing the user’s leverage (thus reducing the amount of human beings one needs to hire). Having a degree or qualification hasn’t mattered much for a while, and this will only become more and more true. What will matter is your ability to be creative and your willpower to force things into existence.

Some roles that will survive this disruption in the short to medium term:

Persuasion: Enterprise sales of all sorts - whether SaaS, investment banking, etc.

I expect enterprise sales to be particularly resilient because enterprises are very political. People who work in enterprises prioritize reducing career risk above everything else (see the recently viral The Maze is in the Mouse). So, although the number one threat to white collar jobs at large businesses could and should be the emergence of AI, corporate actors won’t let that happen so easily.

Because of this, enterprise sales people (that are not selling products that can “obviously” replace careers) will still be very valuable and highly compensated. (Enterprise sales people that are selling products that “obviously” replace a large number of the workforce will always be valuable, granted they can sell to C-levels. This is similar to the selling of offshoring services that replaced many jobs in the US; there’s probably a lot to learn from studying how offshoring affected enterprises and how it will be different / similar to AI replacement.)

Critical Thinking / Resourcefulness: High end creative and design fields.

AI is unlikely to erase the human desire to want for status and bespokeness. Because of this, high end creatives and designers should always be in demand (and high end brands in general). However, the bar for being “high end” will increase, and thus, to stay ahead of the curve, high end brands, creatives, designers, will likely utilize and benefit from AI.

Working Hard: Entrepreneurship; enterprise software.

There’s not much to say on this topic, except that entrepreneurship (the act of building valuable products and distributing them to society) will be valuable for a while. There are many fields that will benefit from AI, like biotech, but this is not a topic I’m particularly well versed in.