This book predicts the decline of today's professions and describes the people and systems that will replace them.
In an Internet society, according to Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind, we will neither need nor want doctors, teachers, accountants, architects, the clergy, consultants, lawyers, and many others to work as they did in the 20th century. The Future of the Professions explains how increasingly capable systems - from telepresence to artificial intelligence - will bring fundamental change in the way that the practical expertise of specialists is made available in society. The authors challenge the grand bargain - the arrangement that grants various monopolies to today's professionals. They argue that our current professions are antiquated, opaque, and no longer affordable and that the expertise of the best is enjoyed by only a few. In their place, they propose six new models for producing and distributing expertise in society.
The book raises important practical and moral questions. In an era when machines can outperform human beings at most tasks, what are the prospects for employment, who should own and control online expertise, and what tasks should be reserved exclusively for people? Based on the authors' in-depth research of more than 10 professions, and illustrated by numerous examples from each, this is the first book to assess and question the relevance of the professions in the 21st century.
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The book is is written in simple language and is rife with examples just when one thought the future could only be described in abstract terms. The author makes a powerful case for the end of the professions which would not be an "overnight revolution" but will come into being through the gradual "withering" of the professions. It takes insight from numerous works in philosophy, mathematics, information technology and many other fields (medicine, law, finance, government). This book is not only about professions but about education of future professionals and about the future of government and economics, too. As such, I see it more like a book about the future of the world and not just the professions. That's why I think of it as transformational.
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It is extremely difficult to find a book like the Susskinds' because this book gathers insight from so many fields to make for the case it so ardently supports—the authors cite Marx, Adam Smith, Michael Sandel, Marvin Minsky, Harold Lasky, Robert Hart, Lawrence Lessig, Baggini, Weizenbaum. Some instances of the book reminded me of works I've read before, especially Michael Sandel's What Money Can't Buy—which is an equally fascinating book, but is more about moral philosophy.
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It would be difficult to listen to this book in one time because firstly I never do that; I prefer to enjoy the book. Secondly, this book is very constructive in that the author invents concepts or describes them and then uses them later to demonstrate something more complex. Those concepts chiefly include "practical expertise", "Grand Bargain", "gatekeepers", "reactive and proactive services", "disintermediation and decomposition of jobs", "latent demand", "communities of experience" as well as technical terms borrowed from other disciplines (non-rival goods, embedded knowledge, affective computing), as well as many professions (knowledge engineers, computational linguistics).
As a professional (lawyer), this is a rather depressing book. It certainly suggests that the best days of true professionals are in the rearview mirror and that the future will be dominated by software, paraprofessionals, "McLawyers" and "McDoctors." I'm afraid there probably is a lot of truth in it. Despite an ever-increasing number of laws and regulations, the legal business has never recovered from the Great Recession. Work is down, except possibly at the mega-firms, and most firms are working hard just to tread water. Some of this is due to legal innovations, such as mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, some is due to client attitudes (since they made due without legal review in the Great Recession, they seem more willing to take their chances with legal risks), and a great deal is due to technology (computerized document review, etc.). I see these trends continuing, and am somewhat glad I am nearer the end of my career than the beginning.
Although the authors put forward a compelling--albeit somewhat obvious--case about technology, their work itself is far from compelling. For one thing, lumping "professions" together is not completely logical. There is is a huge difference between teachers, clergy, accountants, lawyers and doctors. Some might question calling some of these vocations professions. It would have been far more compelling, for example, to address each profession or vocation individually. Although law and accounting have some similarities, the others do not. For example, medicine is definitely a profession, but it is (a) something everyone needs somewhat regularly (in contrast, many never need a lawyer or an accountant) and (b) hugely affected by government or private insurance (depending on the country). The latter is true of no other profession.
Another weakness of the book is that is has no answers for those practicing, or wanting to practice, law, accounting or medicine. Probably the message is "find something else to do," but that is not particularly helpful and is certainly not satisfying.
The over the top British narration was also a little off-putting, at least to me.
If I had to do it over again, I would pass on this one.
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Best suited for academic audience. Not so great for general populatiion who is curious about the future of the professions.
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The book is an in-depth study into the nature. present issues and future of the professions. There are a number of interesting perspectives, although it's a bit too academic in approach and long winded. A higher dose of practicality and more specific picture of the future would have earn it another star.
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The thing that struck me about this book was the way the authors carefully reiterated the thrust of their argument at relevant times throughout the book. This care to be fair and reasoned is appreciated. It is through no fault of the authors that the topic is a bit out of focus. Any book like this attempting to peak into the future will be struggling with that problem. What separates this book is the authors' ready acknowledgement that they are "way over their skis on this one" but they maintain their willingness to go there anyway (while reminding us of the limitations of their thesis). I got the impression that they do this because the information they have uncovered and are sharing compels them to try. And, as they point out at the end of the book, the human stakes are high.
BORING. could have been told in 20mins but dragsON. word word word word word word.
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I found the accent of the reader a real challenge especially when trying to listen at 1.5x... that combined with the rambling text made it very hard to listen to.
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This book is very thorough and scholarly, but it is talking about the British idea of 'Professions' versus the North American view. So, if you're interested in a thorough tuition on the subject of Professions occupied by those who went to 'Public' School, listen indeed. Indubitably.
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With every subsequent play the audio quality is worse than the previous listen. By a fifth play I cannot understand the reader. This has been my experience with every audio book I've purchased from Audible. Sounds like Stephen Hawking's vocalization software running on a Commadore 64.
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