Chamber of Commerce provides talk on the future of work

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Abby Fitchner at Manchester City Hall. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Member of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce were given a look at the future of business last week in a talk titled “How to Survive the Robot Apocalypse.”

Featuring local technology speaker Abby Fichtner, the talk didn’t include any discussion on Skynet or the Matrix, largely due to the fact that the frightening robot villains from popular culture would require generalized artificial intelligence.

Instead, her discussion focused on evolution of work from the age of the Luddites and a time when almost all Americans were farmers some of the new technologies that brought us from that period to the modern day.

Ultimately, the survival she discussed hinges on the ability of humans to adapt to the new jobs that replace old ones and the ability of government to help that transition occur, using the shift in Akron, OH from focusing on rubber-based industries to new related industries that now employ more than 88,000 people.

“This is the kind of ingenuity that makes our country great,” she said. “And it’s what we’ll need to continue doing. But it won’t happen on its own.”

Fichtner disagreed with now former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and his assessment that retraining programs often performed poorly, saying that government assistance in retraining will be vital for people living paycheck to paycheck and that retraining will be vital for everyone as technology continues to evolve.

“The vast majority of us are going to need ongoing, life-long learning,” she said. “We’ll need training to remain relevant in our current positions, and training and support to help us move into new industries and positions as technology reshapes our jobs and industries.”

More information on this and other chamber events can be found at the Chamber of Commerce website.