The essence of leadership carries the power to prepare today’s workforce to engage the global future but real intelligence develops over many years of work, then adding a new layer of capability to mature workers. This means, I believe, a whole new opportunity to realize innovative solutions to uncountable, perpetually unsolved issues. As an example of the dichotomy between perceptions of old and young employees, if you were to look at the You Tube video of IBM’s incredible Watson computing platform, (*video no longer available) they are presenting technology defined as “This patented cognitive computing system acts like the world’s most advanced computer: the human brain”. Watson, the video explains, thinks, reasons, provides hypothesis, learns, teaches, analyses and requires You. Clearly, the new IBM computing universe appears to be targeting a future generation more than a current workforce. They will need to solve world problems faster; that’s the goal: faster solutions for bigger problems. Is it for employed, aging Baby Boomers? From the video it appears not to be. Although we were the first generation to build the networks to connect the world, write the software, lay the pipes and hang the wires, we cannot learn big data we’re being told. The Watson video ends by showing a large group of grade school children holding laptops or maybe digital tablets. In less than two decades they aren’t going to easily walk into a job in 2030, sit down and generate beautiful reports composed of world-changing data as the video alludes to. The workforce that has grown up with and spent their entire career surrounded by hardware and software surely wouldn’t blink at one more advancement. And, I readily admit that given an opportunity to train on Watson I would jump in a heartbeat. Most of us would.
Trying to keep up with Watson social media is challenging; in March 2014, I saw an app developer’s contest that can be submitted to IBM using a downloadable form but unfortunately, it is not an open-to-anybody invitation. I had an interesting app idea that I believe is original and it goes like this: I want Watson to give me some answers as to why I have been rejected for employment for six years. I can feed those hungry databanks with 10+ gigs from six years of experiential notes residing in my brain or on paper but the information I want from Watson relates to discovery. That is, to know which companies are willing to hire a skilled worker over age 50. That’s all; just give me some insight fast and actionable so I won’t be age 60 and still responding to online job posts. My guess, as a non-coder, would be that Watson needs to know a lot about me, needs some geo-data, a bit of history of firms that didn’t hire me and some dreamy stuff like what I hope to find. Now, hit “Search”. I’m waiting. For now, let’s include the intelligence source – Baby Boomers - who built the knowledge systems to resolve today’s perpetually unsolved issues.