On Monday Amazon opened the first cashierless store, Amazon Go. LinkedIn posed the question, “Are cashiers' days numbered?” I think we’ve known this was coming since grocery stores introduced self-checkout lines and Wendy’s installed self-ordering kiosks.
For those of us old enough to remember when phones were attached to a wall with a cord, change is quite obvious.
- We now stay in stranger’s homes instead of pricey hotels (Airbnb)
- We hail cabs from our phone without having to fight another patron once the vehicle pulls to the curb (Uber, Lyft)
- We handle routine legal matters without ever visiting an attorney (LegalZoom)
- We order our wine online and it is better and cheaper than our local wine store (TastingRoom)
Although most now realize that disruption is happening, most of us are not yet aware of the massive scale of the coming changes. To date, the largest transformation of work and family life happened between the late-19th and mid-20th centuries, when the employment focus shifted from family owned farms to urban mass production and people went from being rural folk to being city dwellers. This massive paradigm shift has been called the 2nd Industrial Revolution. Although some fared well in the transition, like the industrial magnets, most did not.
Now, we find ourselves again at the dawn of a new age. This is now the 4th Industrial Revolution, the coming of the cyber-physical age. However, this time the change is predicted to happen 10x faster and at 300x the scale. The impact will be felt roughly 3,000 times greater than that experienced by our farm dwelling ancestors. If this does not cause you to pause, you’re not really reading this article.
One of the thing that differentiates us from our Victorian-era predecessors is access to information. Today we have unprecedented access to information, which if used correctly can help us avoid the pitfalls that befell our predecessors.
The key to our future survival is Data Literacy. We need to become savvy consumers of those massive amounts of information. We need to think critically and separate the real from the fake information. We need to challenge what we are being told, especially when a computer said so.
Understanding how these changes will impact us, we can prepare and be ready. Change is not a threat, but an opportunity, for those who are prepared.
Stay tuned as Data Literacy will take on increasing importance in everything we do, at work, at school, and at home.