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The Future of the Professions

By Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind

*A Book Review*

by Michael C. Gray

© 2018 by Michael C. Gray

Will the professions become obsolete?

When I started in public accounting back in 1974, staff accountants kept busy during the summer setting up handwritten workpapers like trial balances and depreciation schedules for the next year. Client bookkeeping was done on paper general ledgers and journals. With technology developments like spreadsheets, computerized accounting and tax preparation software, most of that work has vanished.

Who could have thought just a few years ago that a handheld device would give us instant access to the world's biggest library and respond to voice inquiries?

According to Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind, we will see that type of change on steroids over the next few decades. Under Moore's law, computing power doubles each year. With this geometric progression, computers are outstripping humans in their capabilities. With IBM's Watson, we have seen that "brute force" computing can be used to simulate creativity in a way different from humans, but still effective in responding to human needs.

Professionals have long enjoyed a "grand bargain" to be well compensated as custodians of their specialized knowedge. Consumers have been finding using professionals has become prohibitively expensive and inefficient, and they are turning to technological alternatives.

Consumers are already consulting with online applications about medical conditions more often than they visit medical doctors.

3D printers are efficiently and inexpensively producing prosthetics (artificial limbs) and will soon be able to produce crowns and artificial teeth for dental work – replacing dental laboratories.

Computerized audit applications and blockchain technology could dramatically reduce the need for auditors and accountants.

Remote monitoring implant devices have reduced the need for in-office visits to medical doctors, and are used by diabetics to automatically give injections to stabilize insulin.

Robots have been programmed to act as companions to humans and to behave compassionately.

We may find that human professionals remain principally as a luxury service for the wealthy or as contributors to software and content development.

A concern not addressed by the authors is the exposure of these computerized systems to hackers. Also, the emerging model for paying for this conversion is for consumers to forfeit their privacy so that information about them can be sold for targeted advertising and consumer research.

Read The Future of the Professions for insights into some of the challenges of tomorrow.

Buy it on Amazon: The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts.

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