How technology makes you a better worker and leads your workers to better jobs

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Editor’s note: McAfee at MIT will be keynotes for its CEO Talent Summit (virtual host) on September 28th with former Medtronic CEO Bill George and Verizon CHRO Samantha Hammock. Unpredictable she is a great session to help you develop the workforce strategy you need for the year and even years ahead. Would you like to take part! Learn more >

The last time I spoke with Andrew McAfee, co-founder and co-director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy at MIT Sloan School of Management, was right before Covid, and we had never talked about Covid. This is ironic given that he was a futurist and we were talking about the future of work.

But best-selling author McAfee, less to more, machine, platform cloud When second machine age, We may not have predicted that the entire world would be shut down by a virus just a few months after our conversation, upending workplace norms developed over a century. Have Many of them have been accelerated by the rapid change in technology over the past three years.

Top of them: the explosive growth of artificial intelligence in all aspects of our lives. It may not be transparent how or when it works, but there is a dizzying number of interactions between customers and suppliers, bosses and employees, and even artists and their audiences. It is in the exchange between

While much of the tech and workplace coverage has focused on doomsday scenarios, where evil capitalists are using the power of machines to cheaply displace millions of workers, McAfee is a real Based on a lot of consulting within companies we see things very differently. He sees a big, little-discussed opportunity to help humans do the work they were meant to do for humans. all of them Worker Expand your skills, increase your salary and feed your career aspirations with an unmatched level of detail.

As an example, he recently worked with a major online retailer to map the skills underlying key jobs in the workplace, matching people in other companies with very different jobs and titles who share the same skill sets. I developed an algorithm to scan. Hidden candidates hiding in plain sight.

Efforts of this kind and others will be scaled and unleashed across businesses to benefit employers and workers. “You’ll raise their wages and give them better roads,” he says. The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

So what we hear about the interface between technology and the workforce is very negative. I mean, we’re putting tens of thousands of people out of work with AI, keylogging people, violating their privacy, and Gen Z and Millennials don’t stand for it. But we really underestimate and underestimate the potential benefits of all technology and how it can help employees and businesses work together to do things better. Are you saying that?

I totally say that. Measurement is not the enemy of either side of the social contract, is it? And when you combine that with information about your career and where you want your next job, it’s great. Am I clearly underpaying you? that’s right. We know it only by being able to measure things fairly well and turn that information into a digestible form.

So if the measurement is intrusive, confidential, or inappropriate for what we are trying to achieve, then we have a problem with the measurement. But the idea that it’s somehow bad to measure what people do at work just doesn’t make sense.

So what are the gaps? Where are we, and where do we need to get to quickly when it comes to workforce talent for technology to play a better and more useful role in commerce?

We need to build the ability to process people’s professional information and make it as sophisticated as their social information. So what is Social Web 2.0? Fifteen years old? Oh my god, are we good at evaluating everything you do on our platform, everything I do on our platform, every click, everything for serving highly customized ads. It is a well-developed industry in We can discuss ethics. We can discuss the pros and cons. It’s a very sophisticated big industry.

We need to measure our professional activities as much as our personal ones. The reason is very simple. Because it is very difficult to manage something that can only be measured poorly. The better we can measure your skills and trajectory and what you want your next job or career to be, the better we can help you.

What I don’t like about much of the current [media] The press is listening to this era of robber barons thinking about businesses with evil bosses looking to exploit helpless employees. It doesn’t really work anymore. I assure you that any company I’ve worked with really wants their talent to never walk out the door, get unhappy, or quit.

They want to know who they are, why they are underpaid, and what is a fair market wage for the skills they have given local conditions and inflation. All these different things. Just a quick question. For example, how do you pay decent wages to minimize the chances of someone walking out the door due to unsatisfied pay? That’s a very simple question. If companies can help answer that, both sides will be happier.

So if this is correct, where are the sunny highlands?

Here are the simple steps: When I talk about corporate merit cycle processes, as soon as I ask an executive or business leader about a process I used to call performance reviews or bonuses, they do some combination of hitting their heads on the closest thing . because they say It’s kind of gross. time consuming. “Who’s most at risk of losing? Who’s going out this door? We really don’t know. What’s a fair wage to pay them? not.

So, in this long series of meetings, there’s a poor guy trying to manage an Excel spreadsheet that records the results of the discussions, trying to get a merit pool and assign it intelligently across groups of people. It’s a regrettable process now.

one thing you can do right now [with technology] Take the huge amount of headache out there and say, “Okay, I’ve got a $ x mil merit pool to allocate to everyone in the marketing department.” boom. This is the first pass. Taking into account everything we know about job titles and wages, common wages in the area, etc. Boom, here’s the plan.

Now you can fine-tune it. Now, for all these reasons we can talk about, we have to give Dan more. great. Similarly, readjust the rest of the numbers and give people a benefit cycle process. The Merit Cycle process is relatively painless, relatively painless, with just the right amount of data and just the right amount of optimization, rather than a huge amount of waving. and guesswork. That’s what we can do.

It’s a beachhead for doing all sorts of other things that way. What is your training plan? How to skill up? How does it feel, as a boss, to have the right cockpit or the right dashboard for the people in your organization as opposed to something like a headcount list by department? Much better than that. Let’s do it, right?

Today, if you’re building a state-of-the-art factory, every machine in that factory is equipped with equipment, and you have a very accurate dashboard showing how the machines in your factory are performing. The idea that we’re years behind people doesn’t make much sense to me.

Of course, there is potential for an Orwellian future here, and one that could stand on the other side. How come we don’t fall for it when you talk about what you’re talking about here?

Worrying is justified. What keeps us from leaning either way is, broadly speaking, our values ​​as a society and the laws and institutions that derive from them. As liberal democracies, we have decided that we do not want to be a dictatorship. For example, there is this 200-plus-year tradition of thinking and then prudently limiting government powers. So I won’t vote for anyone who thinks a social credit score is a good idea. I’m sure it will be beaten by the courts because of the fact that it’s not, right?

On the corporate side, another big force we have is competition. It’s the fact that human capital can be moved elsewhere. This is a major advantage of market-based systems over centrally planned economies. ?

The single biggest thing is to give people skills. Valuable skills can be utilized elsewhere if the current situation seems truly Orwellian. Now, I can imagine layering on some requirements, like, for example, the employer needing to be clear about what they are monitoring and what they are not monitoring. I don’t know if that is the current state of the law. I can imagine why that would be a good idea. It’s the kind of thing we need to think about.

I have always believed that sunlight is the best disinfectant.If you or I take a job and your employer says, ‘Good. I think adults tend to make well-informed decisions once they are informed.

How we think about people in this technologically sophisticated environment is thus highly divided. One is that in my eyes they are ignorant and helpless and we have to make choices for them. cannot get a job or go to school.

I think it’s a little paternal. For example, I think the idea that people don’t know what Facebook is doing is very paternalistic in a way. I think people really know what Facebook does and how it makes money. I don’t think it’s one of the great mysteries of our time. means

Again, do you want transparency? Do you want clarity? Yeah, I think we can do more. But I’m in favor of a camp that generally believes they can be trusted to make decisions about where they care and where their intelligence is, especially in the case of adults, if they reliably provide information. is. Decision. I find it to be a pretty deep divide, and I’m on the side of saying, “Wow, I think you can basically trust people if you give them the information to make a decent decision.”

That’s when they betrayed trust. That’s when people can get away from work, away from Facebook, away from everything. That’s when you feel abused.

absolutely. For example, this can happen if your employer has not been clear about your oversight. But are the people who work in Amazon’s warehouses aware that their activities are being tracked? There can be no big mystery. You are an Amazon warehouse worker. Do you think they don’t care what you do for eight hours? I don’t like the idea that it’s some kind of violation.