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Dr. Tassu Shervani Speaks at I-House on the Future of Work

On Thursday, March 8, 2018, a few days before spring break, Dr. Tassu Shervani, a Marilyn and Leo Corrigan Endowed Professor at the Cox School of Business at SMU in Dallas, came to International House to speak about “The Future of Work.” The event started at 7pm with a reception followed by Dr. Shervani’s talk at 7:30pm. He spoke about his research on the future of the world’s population, the future of technology, and the inevitable interaction between the two set to define the human race in the decades to come surrounding job prospects and population growth. Many of the Residents who attended were extremely excited to have the opportunity to hear from a expert in this field, which is going have a huge impact on our working lives going forward. One resident, Xin Zheng, who has just graduated and starts work in the finance industry next week, spoke of how she was especially interested in the event because she wanted to learn more about the intersect of technology and the workplace, as it was something she had not thought about in great detail before, as well as the fact it was one of the few tech-based events listed on the mostly humanitarian based speakers coming to I-House this semester. Arthur Chu voiced an interest in learning more about the role artificial intelligence. “It’s an interesting event,” said Josef Faller. “I’m excited to hear about the future of technology because I’m a computer scientist. I want to see what new things I can learn,” said Fabio Hanna. Other Residents hoped to learn more about the area to combat their apprehension concerning unemployment due to the rise of automation in the future. Achilleas Chrysostomou spoke of wondering how countries, such as Africa, who have not yet industrialized will be affected and will deal with the shift in technology: will technology moving forward leave them even further behind in terms of development? Risalat Khan enjoyed thinking about these kinds of concepts around the future and technology. He spoke of his personal experience coming from Bangladesh, which has a thriving textile industry, and wondering how the rise of machines doing these kinds of jobs would affect this industry and those working within it. “I think tech is the big change for the next generation, so I want to know what changes it will bring about. With old jobs going away, and new jobs coming in, I want to know if it will influence my future career.” said Sherry Zeng. Dr. Shervani was an extremely knowledgeable, passionate, and gripping speaker. He began by outlining the fact that in order to understand the 7.4 billion people in the world you just need one number: 2.1. That is how many children women need to have to continue the human race. One to replace the father, and one to replace herself, as well as 0.1 as a safety policy, as many children do not live to maturity. He went on to talk of the decline in birthrates around the world, which he ascribed to the education of women. There is a direct correlation of education for women, and the number of children women have. Women are moving further into the workplace, and further away from the nursery. That being said, he predicts the population will reach 9.3 billion by 2050. Once he had outlined this aspect of the world he then moved on to speak about the job market, where people doing technology and science based degrees, and jobs are declining. His key point being we need more people studying science and technology, as this is where the world is moving towards. He emphasized the fact that the world is moving towards an internet of everything, where everything will have its own IP address. In this world we need people who understand and are developing these technologies. He spoke of the three new horsemen of the apocalypse, the three horsemen of the job market–immigration, trade and technology–concluding with the fact that many now are voicing worries about there being too many people and too few jobs, when in actual fact the world is moving towards there being too many jobs and not enough people. Speakers like Dr. Shervani coming to I-House are one of the key reasons people enjoy their time at the House so much. These speakers open our eyes to new ideas, concepts, and areas of interest which we can go on to explore further.