On November 30th 2017, the Center for the Future of Work held its inaugural “21 Jobs of the Future” event at the Crosby Street Hotel in lower Manhattan. This is a trailer of “the CFoW takes Manhattan” – a gripping story of a day in the life of the Center for the Future of Work -- and some of the accolades that have come their way since that fateful day. We hope you enjoy!

Quantum Computing to Redefine Cyber Security Concerns

In our Work AHEAD framework, we speak about discovering and inventing new markets, products and processes to succeed in the fourth industrial revolution. Likewise in cybersecurity, R&D, innovation and blue sky thinking are key to remaining one step ahead of potential threats. For organizations right now quantum computing, which is set to completely redefine how IT work is conducted, will prove to be our next generations defining security concern and grace.

With the arrival of quantum computing, the table stakes will change, and a winner takes all race will emerge.

The impeding exponential leap in processing power that quantum computing will usher in will make current encryption methods obsolete. Today most encryption in the cyber realm uses a technology developed in the 1970’s called public-key cryptography. This type of cryptography is largely secure against computing power available today, but with quantum computing which has the capability to calculate at an exponentially faster rate using quantum bits, than binary (our computers today) processors, this encryption suddenly accounts for very little. For example, the fastest binary computers we have today would take 10,000 years to decrypt some of the longest keys available today but with quantum computing, using Shor’s algorithm, this would take as little as 10 hours . Therefore any hacker armed with this technology would be able to wreak havoc on both national and organizational security with impunity.

But when is the shift to quantum computing going to happen? Some say quantum computers will be commercially available to the public by 2040 but as Bill Gates said in his 1994 book, The Road Ahead "We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” And this has largely held true. For example, the general consensus was that an AI system would not be able to beat a human in a game of extreme logic like Go for at least another 10-20 years. But in 2016 we saw Google’s AlphaGo do just that. So it’s highly likely that we’ll see quantum computers available to the public well before 2040. But even today we are seeing the first quantum computers being used in commercial applications, in support of cybersecurity no less. In January 2017 D-Wave unveiled its D-Wave 2000Q machine and at the same time announced its first customer, cybersecurity firm Temporal Defense Systems. So these machines are appearing, and while the technology is still in its infancy, the signs of what it will usher in are already here.

But with quantum computing, the opportunity to develop new encryption methods becomes a reality. And with the early stage prohibitive cost of these machines ($15 million ) it’s more than likely that organizations will have them before hackers. For example, Microsoft is working extensively on Quantum computing based cyber security in conjunction with Station Q . Also, new forms of encryption are currently under development in a field of study called Post-Quantum Cryptography which aims to use a beefed-up version of our current public-key algorithms to beat the quantum computers. In addition, security methodologies that completely remove “keys” from networks are developed as a way to defend against quantum computing attacks.

It’s clear this is a subject of great interest for some and great consternation for others, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to dedicate an entire field of study to this area of cybersecurity. What is important to take away is that this is an area organizations need to be keeping a close eye on, as wide-scale adoption of the technology will be a reality within our careers.

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Expect HR to Recruit These New Roles in 2027

Last Thursday was a big day for the team at the Centre for the Future of Work. We gathered in New York City to launch our inaugural event 21 Jobs of the Future, and I have to say, it was gratifying to hear from our audience how important the ideas and concepts are. We have a positive eye on the future: Some may well accuse us of being “Pollyanna” in our view of the world, but we’re all realists at the CFOW, and you really can’t blame us for taking an optimist view about the future of work. We see our role as distillers, providing a tonic for our clients and prospects in these confusing and exciting times. And we think we have a good story to tell.

“So why run an event now?” you might ask. The reason is we think we have some good answers on how people will work in the future and more importantly, we want more people to hear them. The backdrop is we are living through a step change in how work gets done. Some call it the 2nd Machine Age and others talk up the 4th Industrial Revolution, but it’s the blend between the physical, digital and biological worlds that’s changing work and, well, everything. And yes it’s scary: things always are when there is a period of rapid, dizzying change. We can all agree that work is changing, and some work will disappear—but it's not nearly as much as the press puts about.

We think that new types of work are beginning to emerge and we predict more new types of work is on the way. How can we be so confident? By looking into history. Previous technology waves like the introduction of steam or coal power or the coming of the railways changed the physical world and transformed our physical labors. The big difference today is that the technologies landing on us thick and fast (big data, platforms, automation, robots, artificial intelligence) are transforming our understanding of the intellectual world and slowly beginning to transform our mental labors too. Hence the middle-class stress and the soul-searching that’s now playing out: Typical questions “What do we do? What will our kids do? What skills do they need?” You could call it brave or foolhardy, but we wanted to answer some of these questions and have laid out our answers in our report 21 Jobs of the Future.

If you’ve been a keen follower of the Centre for the Future of Work you’ll know this work is another signpost on the long road ahead. Whereas our peers might well be building positions around the future of work now, we’ve been making the call on these trends for well over five years. We’ve written two books on the subject of tomorrow’s work, and we’ve coined an industry term “SMAC” (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) which is now common parlance. Our first book Code Halos was certainly left-field, but you know what? In retrospect, that book was bang on the money because it described how to rethink revenue and cost flows around the data flows now changing everything. Code Halos was, in fact, the name we proffered for the digital twin concept and the wave of business model innovation that’s now pumping through our economies. We followed that with a new book earlier this year called What to do When Machines do Everything, and it certainly hit the mark: When the FT writes about the budding effect, you have to give kudos to the authors. The stuff we’ve been writing about is firmly lodged in the media brain and beginning to lodge itself into the corporate brain too. Our current groove on 21 jobs is clearly onto something when industry watchers, Forbes and the Washington Post pick up the concept and the White House tweets and writes about your work...

The interest into how people will work is the reason for putting this event together. We think a lot is going on to inspire hope. For many people, the future of work looks rather black, full of temporary jobs (a “gig” economy), zero hours contracts and a ruling elite safely ensconced away and cashing in on a dystopian future. Although plausible, this vision of the future is not one we would share. Our vision is quite different (and forgive us for being optimists). We base our vision on a different reading of the trends and the facts; a different interpretation of how change occurs and how we as people evolve. There is some nervousness about the future of work, but one thing is for certain: Never, ever short people. People will always want to explore and make what’s next. It might be a designing and developing a virtual-reality wellness machine or building squads of cyber city analysts that will reconfigure our world around the demands of driverless cars. We think what we’ve landed on in the 21 Jobs of the Future will provide the cornerstones of the future of work.

PS. We imagined hundreds of jobs that could come within the macroeconomic, political, demographic, societal, populist, migratory and automated waves now sweeping through our lives. It was quite a challenge to free up the creativity (without any survey data to fall back on) and figure out which jobs would be long-term, viable and critically, would scale. Niches like the tattoo removal artist didn’t make the cut (have you seen how many tattoos the hipster movement has spawned? At least with a beard you can shave it off!). We think that these 21 jobs will become prominent, creating mass employment. They will provide work for many folks in towns and cities, shops and factories around the world. Go on, call us Pollyanna but we think we are onto something. And we dare you to inspire as well.