My 2032: Future of work

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Below is my 2032 Future of Work forecast that I created as part of the IFTF's Urgent Optimist community 10 Year Forecast Together initiative. 

News story

AI Symbiosis becomes the number 1 soft skill demanded by employers.

  • A recent survey of global employment trends shows the most in-demand soft skill has become ’AI Symbiosis’ – the ability for humans to effectively collaborate with AI in order to leverage their output.
  • It is shown that employees with these skills are up to 5x more effective than those without these skills (and this is exponentially increasing year on year).
  • Employees with well-developed AI symbiosis are effectively able to become the ‘CEO’ of their own work, leveraging an army of AI and automation to do their bidding, while focusing on only the most strategic and high-value work.
  • This has now created an extremely concerning skills gap and a two-tier employment market. Governments are scrambling to introduce these skills from as early as kindergarten.


“In celebration of the power of AI,  Which has helped us grow the human tree of knowledge and human potential.”

– Written in collaboration with OpenAI

Images generated using the AI platform MidJourney.

Signals of change

  1. The rise of AI technology such as Copilot which autocompletes codeDall-e which generates images from which helps writers generate text such as blog postsZendbox which is an AI-driven e-commerce fulfilment platform and OpenAI which allows you to substantially speed up your work by requesting it do anything from brainstorm ideas, write article outlines to generate functions using natural language.
  2. Authors are using it to crank out novels at faster speeds than ever, developers are using it to write up to 40% of their code and even students are figuring out how to use it to cheat on assignments
  3. Currently, AI is most effective when used in a symbiotic manner with humans. In its current incarnation, it has been described as less as a replacement than as a new kind of artistic assistant or muse.
  4. While these technologies exist, the ability to leverage them is a skill in itself, effectively requiring a certain type of systems/strategic thinking, leadership skills and a knack for understanding the intricacies, strengths and weaknesses of the technology. Josh Dzieza describes how such so-called ‘prompt programming’ “requires a strange degree of sympathy with the machine, thinking about the way it works and how it might respond to your query“. Successful AI-human collaboration relies on each party’s ability to do what it does best. Courses are already starting to appear such as Joanna Penn’s The AI-Assisted Author

Most activities at the human-machine interface require people to do new and different things (such as train a chatbot) and to do things differently (use that chatbot to provide better customer service). So far, however, only a small number of the companies we’ve surveyed have begun to reimagine their business processes to optimize collaborative intelligence. But the lesson is clear: Organizations that use machines merely to displace workers through automation will miss the full potential of AI. Such a strategy is misguided from the get-go. Tomorrow’s leaders will instead be those that embrace collaborative intelligence, transforming their operations, their markets, their industries, and—no less important—their workforces. 

 – Collaborative Intelligence: Humans and AI Are Joining Forces

Two drivers of change

  1. The rise of artificial intelligence technology
  2. A drive towards the automation of work to improve efficiency and lower costs

Backcasting moments

2023: A small proportion of employees find themselves knocking off early every day after covertly using AI to more efficiently complete their work. Some appear to be much more skilled at leveraging this technology than others

2024: Some of the most watched YouTube channels are about leveraging AI to improve your work output. The term ‘AI symbiosis’ starts more commonly appearing amongst certain segments of society

2026: The term ‘AI symbiosis’ starts appearing as a required skill in certain job ads

2027: Larger corporations start implementing these procedures formally into their workflow, however like any other soft skill they notice a large discrepancy in the success of how they are implemented by individual employees. Those using this skill well are able to work on a completely different level and they are swiftly promoted to highly strategic roles.

2028: Formal skills training in AI symbiosis starts appearing such as 1-day corporate training workshops

2029: Most professionals are required to use AI in the course of their day-to-day roles.

The story behind this forecast

Over the past few months, I’ve spent some time playing around with AI technologies such as MidJourney and OpenAI playgrounds. 

I’ve been able to use OpenAI to substantially speed up my work in writing documents and outlines, assisting with research and idea generation. This is with me barely scratching the surface of the possibilities!

An interesting insight I’ve come across is that these technologies almost promote you automatically to ‘the CEO’ where you effectively have a team under you doing your bidding. As such, if you are effective at using AI, you’ll be able to focus only on the most strategic and high-value work. 

However, this also means you may have to be able to think on a different need to be like a CEO with the ability to understand how to work with an entirely new species of AI one!

I can only see this completely redefining work over the next 10 years…in both positive and quite scary ways.