The big, disturbing AI experiment in the classroom

“These classrooms are laboratories for future generations… just how this all works out won’t be apparent until they become adult citizens.”

China’s capacity to implement and integrate new AI technology into their society never fails to shock me. The video below on all the ways China is using AI in the classroom is no different.

Watching it reminded me of a term I just learned, parental anxiety management. The term comes from the article, The Case Against Spying on Your Kids With Apps, which does an excellent job of showing off the creepy ways parents can track their kids alongside reasons why they shouldn’t. The takeaway is that surveillance tech markets themselves as the solution to parents’ collective anxiety about their kids safety and health.

While China’s government certainly plays a massive role in the expansion of AI, the cultural acceptance of new technology that supposedly benefits our kids isn’t limited to China. Watch the Chinese parents share why they think it’s a good idea to use artificial intelligence in the classroom, and you’ll see little difference between those parents and US parents who just want what’s best for their kids.

I can only hope that our government steps up and puts huge limits on AI in the classroom so our kids don’t end up monitored, tracked, and shamed as they go through the education system.

I wrote a career change book thanks to #NaNoWriMo

Last year I participated in National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) to kickstart the process of writing a nonfiction book. In November 2018, I wrote just over 35,000 words!

Fast forward 11 months and I just got the final cover for my book that helps career changers navigate the #futureofwork.

Career change book
A new book for career changers and the future of work with a bit of a twist

While NaNoWriMo is geared towards fiction writers, I found the community, tips, and single focus on writing for volume super helpful to beat procrastination and make writing a priority.

But here’s the fun part: my nonfiction career change book has a touch of fiction in it. I put a dystopian choose your own adventure type story in it.

Putting a fictional interactive story in a nonfiction career change book isn’t traditional. But the #futureofwork isn’t traditional. And in truth some of the things happening in the workplace look quite dystopian.

I aim to help workers navigate it all. So this isn’t your average career change book. The word of work has changed and so too should the career advice.

Curious? Join my virtual book release party.

And if you’re thinking of writing your own book, check out NaNoWriMo:

And see how to get started writing your first draft.
https://lnkd.in/gU9Askk

This call is being monitored (and used to discipline call center workers)

The premise of using affect as a job-performance metric would be problematic enough if the process were accurate. But the machinic systems that claim to objectively analyze emotion rely on data sets rife with systemic prejudice, which affects search engine results, law enforcement profiling, and hiring, among many other areas. For vocal tone analysis systems, the biased data set is customers’ voices themselves. How pleasant or desirable a particular voice is found to be is influenced by listener prejudices; call-center agents perceived as nonwhite, women or feminine, queer or trans, or “non- American” are at an entrenched disadvantage, which the datafication process will only serve to reproduce while lending it a pretense of objectivity.

Recorded for Quality Assurance

All of us are used to hearing the familiar phrase “This call is being monitored for quality assurance” when we contact customer service.

Most of us don’t give a second thought to what happens to the recording after our problem is solved.

The article above takes us in the new world of call center work, where your voice is monitored, scored by AI, and used to discipline workers.

“Reps from companies claim their systems allow agents to be more empathetic, but in practice, they offer emotional surveillance suitable for disciplining workers and manipulating customers. Your awkward pauses, over-talking, and unnatural pace will be used against them.

The more I read about workplace surveillance, the more dystopian the future of work looks. Is this really what we want? Is this what managers and leadership want?

What if we used the voice analysis on leadership. Why aren’t we monitoring and analyzing how leadership speaks to their subordinates or peers in meetings? Grant it, I don’t think that’d actually produce a healthy work environment but it only seems like a fair deal for leadership who implement and use these algorithms in their organizations.

On a related note, there’s a collection of papers out from Data & Society that seek to “understand how automated, algorithmic, AI, or otherwise data-driven technologies are being integrated into organizational contexts and processes.” The collection, titled Algorithms on the shop floor: Data driven technologies in organizational contexts, shows off the range of contexts in which new technology is fundamentally reshaping our workforce.

With companies racing to implement automated platforms and AI technology in the workplace, we need so much more of this research.


Workaholics, burnout and the false promise of following your passion

Everyone in my generation has been raised with the idea that all we needed to do was follow our passion and everything would work out just fine in our careers. Finding your passion is the ultimate end goal in the quest for a career (that and paying off student loans).

In all this talk of passion, nobody mentions burnout. Or the fact that jobs come is many different crappy, boring flavors.

If you’re nodding along to the sentence above, watch this video. You’ll appreciate the honesty about careers, and get a small does of history about how we as a society shifted from the notion that a job is a job, to the idea that a job is a career and it should be a calling!

It time for a new career narrative, one that’s more honest and aligns with our new world of work. In my book I write about how telling people to follow their passion is unhelpful. We’re not longer working life long careers. Our passions, interests, needs all shift over the course of a lifetime. So the idea that we will follow a single passion until our dying day is simply outdated. The advice keeps people stuck, especially career changers.

Instead, people need to follow their curiosity, exploring different jobs and paths that align with their needs and interests as they grow.

Looking for a career change? There’s a podcast for that.

Figuring out how to make a career change is a big barrier for many. After all, we were all sold on the idea that we simply needed a college degree and the right major and we’d be set for life. Nobody teaches us how to change careers. But the career ladder is dead, and the world of work has changed. This isn’t your dad’s workplace anymore.

We all need a bit of help when it comes to finding a new career. From how to pick a career path, to learning new skills, to starting a new job, switching careers is a daunting task for many.

How to Change Careers by Podcast

I launched the podcast 50 Conversations to help people change careers. Can you actually learn how to change careers by podcast? Maybe. But you can certainly get a lot of good advice on how to find a new career. The podcast offers 50 stories from people who have changed careers. They cover everything from how they knew it was time to change, how they found a new career path, to how they learned skills to make the jump. And at the end of each episode they give advice to future career changers like you.

Career paths, bootcamps, and career changes in your 30s, oh my

Career changes comes in many shapes and sizes. In my podcast for career changers, you’ll hear stories about people who took many different paths. You’ll hear about people who went back to school in their 30s and 40s. Listen to others explain how they choose a digital bootcamp or why they opted to go to community college. Hear stories from people who were burnt out and started their own business. You’ll also get to hear from people who have changed over and over again, always curious about the next opportunity. With 50 conversations, you’ll hear a variety of career paths, so expected and some less so.

“I need a career change but don’t know what to do”

If that phrase has escaped your mouth recently, the 50 Conversations podcast is definitely for you. The beginning of a career change doesn’t start with having a plan; it starts with exploring your options, commitment free. Listening to a podcast about how to change careers is an excellent start to the career change exploration process.

Free career advice in your pocket

Look, career coaches are fabulously helpful for helping you make a career change but they’re expensive. So consider this podcast for career changers a career coach in your pocket. You’ll learn how to make a career change in many different ways. Plus, I interview other career coaches to get their take on how they’re reshaping their careers.

Curious? Good!

Find 50 Conversations on iTunes, Stitcher, and direct at www.50conversations.com.

Repeat after me: Your college major doesn’t determine your career path

How can we talk about college in a way that doesn’t imply graduates will be set on the path of a lifelong career based on their major?

A college major isn’t the sole factor that determines your career. Our careers are multifacted. They’re shaped by new work experiences and the skills collected along they way, as well as life events, curiosity, people we meet, and more.

If you know a college student who is stressed about which major to choose, share the tweet above. Grant it, that won’t help the stress about which job will pay off students loans (that’s another conversation) but at least we can reframe the conversation that a college degree is only the first step in a life filled with career learning.

Automating all the jobs

Whether you are a grocer, doctor, factory worker, or journalist. All of our jobs will soon be reshaped by automation. Some will benefit from the new work that will emerge. And others will watch their jobs disappear with no clear path to another livelihood. Managing this transition will be the defining challenge for us in the decades ahead. And we need to be ready for it.

Rage click response: Why remote work can be f*cking great for your career

Last month I rage clicked on the article by Suzy Welch, Why working from home can be terrible for your career. I’m so glad I did because I’ve been meaning to write about why remote work is so good for your career.

For media companies looking to stand out in the attention economy, getting a well-known Leadership & Management Expert to write on today’s hottest topic, remote work, is a smart move. Brand name + trendy career topics = clicks. And getting that expert to write that remote work is “terrible for your career” is sure to bring in a few rage clicks.

Telling people that remote work will kill their leadership opportunities feels like a desperate attempt by out of touch leaders to stop a generational shift. Flexible work hours, which includes remote work, are the most sought after perk in the workplace. Millennials are leading the charge for more flexible work policies.

But they aren’t the only ones. Spend any time in a Facebook group for moms, travelers, and anyone other community who’s population is still required to show up for a 9-5, and you’ll see post after post of people asking how to get a remote job. Drop into the #digitalnomad or #remotework hashtag on Insta and you’ll see the cat’s already out of the bag. Remote work is fucking great for your career and those of us doing it know it.

Continue reading →

Didn’t see this coming: Facial recognition at summer camp

I spend a lot of time reading and writing about AI in the workplace which means I spend a lot of time reading about AI in general. But I wasn’t at all prepared for this:

Now hundreds of summer camps across the United States have tethered their rustic lakefronts to facial-recognition software, allowing parents an increasingly omniscient view into their kids’ home away from home.

If you just yelled what the fuckity fuck when you read that quote, than you’re really not going to like the article, As summer camps turn on facial recognition, parents demand: More smiles, please. The article details how summer camps are using facial recognition tech to keep parents up to date on teens often without their kids knowing it.

I spend a lot of time reading about AI products and their impact on society, but using facial recognition on teens at a summer camp (and a phone-free one at that) so companies can sell fear and anxiety to parents who then transfer that anxiety right back onto their kids, really caught me off guard.

If this fires you up, follow @ruchowdh and @hypervisible on Twitter.

Excellent analysis by @drewharwell – “Some of the kids… are so accustomed to constant photography that they barely notice the camera crew.” – we are acclimating the next generation to a surveillance state.— Rumman Chowdhury (@ruchowdh) August 9, 2019

Then read Shoshana Zuboff’s new book surveillance capitalism.

AI as flirt coach?

“It coaches you on what to say on the [first] call,” he says. “Some of it will encourage you to be calm. Some will give you specifics into what kind of person they are, like ‘traditional’ or ‘modern’ lifestyles.”

AI could be your wingman—er, wingbot—on your next first date

Another example of AI teaching people skills. So curious how it feels to be coached by AI. Using AI to coach people on people skills total flattening of the range of ways to interact with people.

And if someone doesn’t know how to engage on the phone, how will they do in person?

Also have they made sure teh person writing the scripts for these interactions actually has people skills? I wonder what that would look like in a job description.