It seems to me….
“When quick results are imperative, the manipulation of the masses through symbols may be the only quick way of having a critical thing done.” ~ John Grierson.
Symbolic-analytic services are the problem-solving, problem-identifying, and strategic thinking that go into the manipulation of symbols – data, words, oral, visual representations…. It is estimated that in 1990 symbolic analysts accounted for 20 percent of all American jobs and their share was expected to increase, as would their incomes, as demand for people to fill these positions would exceed the number of people able to do them.
While it was expected this widening disconnect between symbolic-analytic jobs and other major categories of work would be the major force driving widening inequality, it was not anticipated how quickly or how wide the divide would become or how high the cost of inequality and economic insecurity would be; e.g., that life expectancy of an American white woman without a high school degree would decrease by five years between 1990 and 2008.
Employment is now pressured not only by labor-replacing technologies but also by knowledge-replacing technologies. The combination of advanced sensors, voice recognition, artificial intelligence, big data, text-mining, and pattern-recognition algorithms is generating smart robots capable of quickly learning human actions and even learning from one another. Life sciences also are experiencing a revolution where drugs can be tailored to a patient’s specific condition and genome. If the current trend continues, a significant percentage of symbolic analysts will be replaced in coming years. The two largest professionally intensive sectors in the U.S., health care and education, could be particularly affected because of escalating pressures to reduce costs while increasing utilization of advanced technology.
Mobile health applications available on smartphones or wrist devices (smartwatches) are now able to measure everything from calories to blood pressure performing the same functions as costly medical devices along with diagnostic software capable of analyzing the collected data more accurately than human technicians are changing the practice of healthcare. Smartwatches are incorporating multiple functionality; they no longer are only for chronography, they now are general-purpose networked computers incorporating multiple sensors. It is difficult to foresee if smartwatches will evolve into totally independent computing devices or if restricted capabilities resulting from size and computational constraints will limit them to limited-function remote interfaces. While the small screen size obviously limits input/output, smartwatches have an inherent advantage over most other devices in that they have direct body contact and are in a known location facilitating health-factor monitoring and data collection of such information as heartrate and variability, temperature, blood oxygen, and galvanic skin response (physiological arousal).
Schools and universities are experiencing their own revolution in educational methodologies (though faculties continue to resist). Many teachers and university professors are already on the way to being replaced by software, Web-based “MOOCs” (Massive Open Online Courses), and interactive online textbooks along with adjuncts that guide student learning.
The result will be greater economic inequality as income and wealth become even more concentrated than today. Those who create or invest in paradigm-changing advances will earn unprecedented sums and returns in addition to significant political power. Unfortunately, most people will not share in these monetary gains and their political power will disappear – the middle class’s share of the total economic pie will continue to shrink while the share going to the very top will continue to increase.
That’s what I think, what about you?
 John Grierson was a pioneering Scottish documentary maker often considered the father of British and Canadian documentary films.
 Reich, Robert. The Nightmarish Future for American Jobs and Incomes Is Here, Bear MarketNews, http://bearmarketnews.blogspot.com/2015/05/robert-reich-nightmarish-future-for.html, 7 May 2015.
 Rawassizadeh, Reza, Blaine A. Price, and Marian Petre. Wearables: Has the Age of Smartwatches Finally Arrived?, Communications of the ACM, January 2015, pp45-47.