The Future of the Professions | Richard Susskind

Summary of: The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts
By: Richard Susskind


In the era of fast-paced technology and internet proliferation, ‘The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts’ by Richard Susskind takes us on a journey to explore the transformation that technology brings to every aspect of work done by professionals. The book dives into numerous fields such as medicine, law, education, and accounting, to assess the impact of innovative technologies in improving efficiency and challenging the traditional exclusivity of professional expertise. As we navigate this digital revolution, the central theme of the book is whether trust in these professions is still warranted and how professionals must adapt to maintain relevance in the age of automation.

The Role of Professionals

We rely on professionals to guide us in fields that we are not knowledgeable in. From educating our children to taking care of our health, we trust these experts to provide the best possible service and keep us safe. Professionals have the necessary knowledge, expertise, and experience to tailor their practices to suit the needs of each individual they work with. They also stay current with developments in their field and maintain a high standard of quality in their work. Society grants professionals the autonomy to manage their fields of expertise, and they uphold their duties with honesty and selflessness. Joining a profession requires meeting specific standards for training, exams, and credentials, and only licensed professionals have legal authority over certain fields (e.g., health). In essence, professionals are comparable to a club, with members setting the standards and granting entry.

Accessing Professional Services: The Role of Technology

Many people cannot afford the services of professional experts due to financial constraints, which has led to difficulties in maintaining quality professional services. However, the internet has opened new opportunities for people to get access to high-level information and knowledge that were only available to professionals in the past. Online communities, video tutorials, and online universities have created numerous ways for the average individual to acquire knowledge and skills that were exclusively available to professionals. Unfortunately, professionals tend to resist changes that dilute the exclusive power of their chosen field, which may discourage self-help and self-discovery. While some professionals use complicated jargon to justify high fees, others are genuinely concerned about holding up their end of the professional bargain. The question remains: can the public trust professionals to reform themselves?

The Future of Professional Services

Technology is revolutionizing the way we access professional services, making it easier and more efficient than ever before. Automating routine tasks frees up professionals to focus on more complex or rewarding areas. Teleprofessionalism brings expert advice to patients remotely, and even allows for telesurgery. Standardized documents, protocols and online services streamline productivity and delivery. As tasks become more complex, automation will become increasingly essential. However, technology also makes professional expertise available to laypeople, potentially rendering certain professions obsolete. Nevertheless, the benefits of technology in professional services are undeniable, offering enhanced productivity, increased efficiency, and improved access to knowledge.

Simplifying Tax Filing

Filing taxes is a strenuous process that is becoming harder by the day with the frequent updates in tax laws. In the United States, tax regulations are changed on average once a day, and citizens spend 6.1 billion hours filing taxes annually. However, technological advancements provide solutions that make tax filing easier. Tax advisor Deloitte, for instance, has one digitized system that companies worldwide use to manage their taxes. The same technology can also help businesses organize their accounting work, predict the tax due, offer cash management advice, and determine the best location for corporate headquarters. In the United Kingdom, small businesses use online software to manage their finances, which updates their tax documents automatically. With technology’s aid, fewer citizens will have to struggle with filing taxes in the future.

The Power and Potential of Big Data

In today’s data-rich world, big data techniques have become invaluable in identifying patterns and predicting outcomes from large data sets. With the growth of digital images and videos, society generates as much data in two days as in all of history up until 2003. Beyond predicting flu outbreaks, supercomputers like IBM’s Watson can perform increasingly human-like functions, such as diagnosing cancer and processing medical information at lightning-fast speeds. The power and potential of big data are limitless, and it’s exciting to imagine what the future holds for this technology.

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