I could have titled this article in several ways:

  • Baby Boomers Discarded by Machine Learning, or
  • Corporate America Uses Artificial Intelligence at the Expense of Human Intelligence, or even
  • How AI Is Impacting Workforce Planning Forecasts.

To be fair, this article will be the first in a series that captures where I have come when I started my career in labor market planning full circle to helping others transition from their business and career at a time where uncertainty about future position functions exist.

New Terms to Remember

First, I’ll acknowledge I read a little and find the discussion about artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning (ML) a bit fascinating, yet sometimes daunting and challenging for my non-scientific baby boomer mind. Especially as I was born and raised in an economy that valued human intelligence and effort.  And, interestingly, because of that value upon human intelligence and effort; AI, the IoT, and ML have made considerable advances in their application to performing work functions.

Industry Trends

Perhaps it’s because of events recently regarding corporate layoffs on a grand scale at General Motors, continued industry consolidation, mergers and acquisitions, and the utilization of AI and ML to increase corporate efficiency, (and one will hope) bottom line profitability for shareholders that I’m interested in exploring these topics further.  Add to this a seeming reluctance, if not avoidance, of big government to address how it will help further the solutions to several of the challenges facing our business and governmental enterprises.

Part of my practice provides executive search services to private companies and government agencies. Another part of my practice provides transition planning services to business owners and career professionals.  To start, I’ve decided to poke around the edges of the impact of AI and ML as it impacts baby boomer professionals approaching their platinum years.

Great Career – Uncertain Future

In part because I operate an executive search firm, I regularly am requested to assist career professionals who, for one reason or another, are in their boomer years, are not ready to “retire,” and want to continue working because of the intrinsic rewards granted by work that is intellectually stimulating and full of social interaction.  It’s for that reason that I became a Transition Planning Consultant through the Successful Transition Planning Institute.  I needed to understand how I could help these professionals find meaning in a new career.

Sometimes these folks find themselves at my doorstep because they’ve been laid off.  Sometimes its because their company got bought through a merger.  Sometimes its because their function has been taken over by a machine.  They all have one thing in common – they want to continue to work – but, begging the question – where, and doing what?

These are folks who have brilliant minds, great accomplishments, and want to continue to contribute – because they know they can.  They aren’t excited about entry-level jobs but often that is what’s available.  They are not going to be great at certain service jobs – mowing lawns, carpentry work, washing dishes – because, well, their age may present certain physical limitations – but more importantly, they’ve been trained and succeeded in what we used to call “white-collar” work, not physical labor.

What’s Next In Their Future?

I see AI and ML providing lots of benefits to companies that are creating new opportunities for millennial’s who see the potential of IoT, AI, and ML and who have technical expertise; but I have not seen instances where companies are using AI and ML to develop occupations that displaced baby boomers in transition can re-enter the workforce and, using their considerable knowledge and expertise, help companies grow, be more competitive, and improve their bottom-line.  Perhaps that’s where this series will go: to help companies understand how they can leverage baby boomer knowledge in combination with AI and ML to grow their corporate bottom-line.  More to come.  And if you have suggestions and specific examples, PLEASE comment and participate in this discussion. I know what I know and know there is lots that I don’t know.  Thanks.