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Publisher's Summary

This book predicts the decline of today's professions and describes the people and systems that will replace them.

In an Internet society, according to Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind, we will neither need nor want doctors, teachers, accountants, architects, the clergy, consultants, lawyers, and many others to work as they did in the 20th century. The Future of the Professions explains how increasingly capable systems - from telepresence to artificial intelligence - will bring fundamental change in the way that the practical expertise of specialists is made available in society. The authors challenge the grand bargain - the arrangement that grants various monopolies to today's professionals. They argue that our current professions are antiquated, opaque, and no longer affordable and that the expertise of the best is enjoyed by only a few. In their place, they propose six new models for producing and distributing expertise in society.

The book raises important practical and moral questions. In an era when machines can outperform human beings at most tasks, what are the prospects for employment, who should own and control online expertise, and what tasks should be reserved exclusively for people? Based on the authors' in-depth research of more than 10 professions, and illustrated by numerous examples from each, this is the first book to assess and question the relevance of the professions in the 21st century.

©2015 Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I Hope It's Not All True

As a professional (lawyer), this is a rather depressing book. It certainly suggests that the best days of true professionals are in the rearview mirror and that the future will be dominated by software, paraprofessionals, "McLawyers" and "McDoctors." I'm afraid there probably is a lot of truth in it. Despite an ever-increasing number of laws and regulations, the legal business has never recovered from the Great Recession. Work is down, except possibly at the mega-firms, and most firms are working hard just to tread water. Some of this is due to legal innovations, such as mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, some is due to client attitudes (since they made due without legal review in the Great Recession, they seem more willing to take their chances with legal risks), and a great deal is due to technology (computerized document review, etc.). I see these trends continuing, and am somewhat glad I am nearer the end of my career than the beginning.

Although the authors put forward a compelling--albeit somewhat obvious--case about technology, their work itself is far from compelling. For one thing, lumping "professions" together is not completely logical. There is is a huge difference between teachers, clergy, accountants, lawyers and doctors. Some might question calling some of these vocations professions. It would have been far more compelling, for example, to address each profession or vocation individually. Although law and accounting have some similarities, the others do not. For example, medicine is definitely a profession, but it is (a) something everyone needs somewhat regularly (in contrast, many never need a lawyer or an accountant) and (b) hugely affected by government or private insurance (depending on the country). The latter is true of no other profession.

Another weakness of the book is that is has no answers for those practicing, or wanting to practice, law, accounting or medicine. Probably the message is "find something else to do," but that is not particularly helpful and is certainly not satisfying.

The over the top British narration was also a little off-putting, at least to me.

If I had to do it over again, I would pass on this one.

20 people found this helpful

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could have been much shorter in length

Best suited for academic audience. Not so great for general populatiion who is curious about the future of the professions.

7 people found this helpful

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Interesting perspectives from an in-depth study

The book is an in-depth study into the nature. present issues and future of the professions. There are a number of interesting perspectives, although it's a bit too academic in approach and long winded. A higher dose of practicality and more specific picture of the future would have earn it another star.

4 people found this helpful

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Kind of Boring Unfortunately

I believe that the entire book could be wrapped up in a 15 page article. While the authors offer some really interesting points, the book is fairly repetitive and wordy.

1 person found this helpful

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Attempt at sketching a history of the 21st century

I came to this book personally out of my interest in the digital humanities. People who study DH may find it worthwhile to read this book. Likewise, people who read this book and like it may find it worthwhile to read about the digital humanities.

The Susskinds explain how economic and cultural history thus far has led to the current professional structure of Western society. They speculate that technological advances will ultimately challenge the sorts of exclusive claims to knowledge and expertise that the professions are based on. They imagine a new world where the professional economy as we know it no longer exists because computers will have taken responsibility for a significant number of tasks that humans now do.

The Susskinds offer guidance for how people can adapt and write themselves into this new, technology-intensive future. They call upon traditional economic ideas like the Tragedy of the Commons and Rawls’ veil of ignorance to explain how traditional reasoning strategies may be applicable to navigating or charting the human factor into tomorrow’s technological future.

They respond, throughout, to anticipated rebuttals to their arguments. For example, in response to the claim that artificial intelligence will not be able replicate human patterns of thinking, they say that it is a logical fallacy to believe that AI must replicate human cognition in order to be effective. The Susskinds urge us to imagine and accept the possibility that artificial intelligence is of a different order than human intelligence and that AI may be capable of arriving at the same end result as a human (or a better result) through an entirely different thought process than what the human may pursue.

This is a great read for anyone interested in thinking critically about the future.

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Book references not needed

Constant change in tempo when referencing book notes. Annoying and not necessary.

Can’t reference notes easily anyway.

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A Focused Look at a Topic Out of Focus

The thing that struck me about this book was the way the authors carefully reiterated the thrust of their argument at relevant times throughout the book. This care to be fair and reasoned is appreciated. It is through no fault of the authors that the topic is a bit out of focus. Any book like this attempting to peak into the future will be struggling with that problem. What separates this book is the authors' ready acknowledgement that they are "way over their skis on this one" but they maintain their willingness to go there anyway (while reminding us of the limitations of their thesis). I got the impression that they do this because the information they have uncovered and are sharing compels them to try. And, as they point out at the end of the book, the human stakes are high.

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BORING. could have been told in 20mins but dragsON

BORING. could have been told in 20mins but dragsON. word word word word word word.

2 people found this helpful

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language could be simpler and more to the point.

I found the accent of the reader a real challenge especially when trying to listen at 1.5x... that combined with the rambling text made it very hard to listen to.

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Audio quality deteriorates

With every subsequent play the audio quality is worse than the previous listen. By a fifth play I cannot understand the reader. This has been my experience with every audio book I've purchased from Audible. Sounds like Stephen Hawking's vocalization software running on a Commadore 64.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Clay
  • 08-20-19

Heavy but interesting

Heavy going but full of great insight and analysis. I'd recommend this to those interested in futurology, career advisers, and those who have just started working in the classic professions and want insight into the future of their chosen career paths.

3 people found this helpful

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  • mr
  • 10-03-18

Good food for thought, unimaginative structurally

Found concepts and challenging the current norms excellent but content is structured in quite repetitive format. Recommend for the ideas but maybe listen to at fast speed :)

2 people found this helpful

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  • dordje
  • 07-06-18

Dreadful couldn’t finish it

Saw one of the authors speak which was okay but the book was too tough to continue beyond the opening drivel and superfluous definitions and parameter setting. Nothing there to hook the reader to keep going

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sheridan Le Fanu
  • 08-17-21

Interesting ideas but overly repetitious

This book doesn't lend itself to an audio version due to the large amounts of repetition between chapters. I assume this was done to accommodate readers who read discrete chapters rather than reading the book from start to finish. This book is therefore designed more like a text book than a work of nonfiction. If you have a professional reason to be interested in the topic then the ideas are solid although overly negative. The focus is on the jobs that will be destroyed by digitisation, without giving too much thought to the additional jobs that may be created.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-10-17

Narration was a bit of a killer. Content good

went over the same point maybe twenty times. Sounded like Stephen Toast but not funny. interesting topic. just about worth it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • E. McDonnell
  • 04-19-16

Thought provoking but in sore need of an editor

Good points and a compelling premise but a shocking amount of repetition. The book could be reduced to a third its current length and have more impact by doing so.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Elron Hoover
  • 07-12-21

Bizarre voice performance too distracting

Had to stop after a couple of hours pushing through. Voice performance was very odd and couldn’t focus on the content. Thought I’d get used to it but regrettably not.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-25-21

Narrator is terrible

Yawn - can’t listen to this voice. Too monotone and elitist. Content is good but damn, please drop this voice ASAP

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  • Adrian J. Smith
  • 06-08-21

A good all round investigation

A decent overview of how changes in technology will lead to evolutions in the professions, specifically medicine, education, law and consulting.
One who follows modern publications such as The Economist may be very familiar with the evolving nature of techological transformations, but the strength of this book is the depth and broad-ranging nature of the coverage.
As this is familiar to this reader, the book could seem a little too elaborative at times, but can serve as a decent refresher on a very important subject.
The narration by John Lee is superb, and John Lee is nothing short of one of the best Narrators going.

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  • Tom Mitchell
  • 05-24-21

Couldn't finish it due to the terrible narration.

John reads this book like he's telling a story and his enunciation does not fit this type of book. it shouldn't be a "Performance". Had to turn it off..

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-08-20

Expertise for free?

I'm hope the Susskinds are sharing all their thoughts for free. I paid them for their 'sharing'.

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  • Mark
  • 03-19-17

Don't buy this book...

The basic premise of this book is that expertise (such as that offered by the authors) should be made freely available in what they term a "technology-based internet society". The logical extension of this is that the expertise they offer to sell you through the purchase of this book should be readily available online, and it is. Just search on technological unemployment and you will find it.

4 people found this helpful