Will LinkedIn & lynda.com Help Us Race With The Machines?

Last year, 1,896 experts responded to questions from the Pew Research Center around how artificial intelligence and robotics will affect our work and lives by 2025. The group was about evenly split on whether more jobs would be created or destroyed, but they also gave more nuanced comments on the different themes underlying their thinking. One theme tightly related to my own research is summarized as, “Technology will free us from day-to-day drudgery, and allow us to define our relationship with “work” in a more positive and socially beneficial way.” Technology will change the nature of work. Technology can also help us cope with these changes.

LinkedIn and lynda.com

Think about LinkedIn. With 107 Million users in the United States and 347 Million worldwide, many of us have already gone to the effort of providing LinkedIn’s machines with our work history. Combine this with LinkedIn's recent announcement that they will pay $1.5 Billion for professional education company lynda.com.

Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO is quoted in a press release:

The mission of LinkedIn and the mission of lynda.com are highly aligned. Both companies seek to help professionals be better at what they do…lynda.com’s extensive library of premium video content helps empower people to develop the skills needed to accelerate their careers. When integrated with the hundreds of millions of members and millions of jobs on LinkedIn, lynda.com can change the way in which people connect to opportunity.

Lifelong Learning Demanded by the Shrinking “Half-Life” of our Job Knowledge -- But Machines Can Help

Jobs evolve more quickly than they have in the past. For example, half the knowledge in some fields of psychology is expected to be obsolete in less than six years. For information technology professionals, the pace is even faster.

My version of the best outcome of the LinkedIn/lynda.com acquisition is that the deep integration of our LinkedIn work histories and LinkedIn’s broad perspective on available jobs, and the skills needed to do them, will help us prepare for a world where work is constantly changing and we have to race to stay current. Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee call this racing with the machines instead of against them.

LinkedIn may be able to combine what it knows about the kinds of jobs that are available (via its recruiting services), the kinds of skills we have (via our LinkedIn profiles), and predictive analytics (data crunching focused on testing what might happen next) to direct us towards the most valuable educational opportunities offered by the lynda.com content. Ideally, we’d have enough time to prepare for the jobs of the future and stay ahead of the curve. The machine becomes our partner in career planning at exactly the time that we need it.

Do you feel like the pace of change in your work is increasing? For career success, what’s the right mix of staying up to date on factual knowledge (book learning), the technologies (tools) of your work, and your professional (human) networks?