Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Needs Don't Exist Until Discovered

I remember this one particular family vacation during my teen years -- a 7 day cruise where I met several other teens from all over the country. On the last night of the cruise, I asked my parents' permission to stay up all night spending time with my new friends. My mother was instantly opposed and so was my father. When I demanded to know why, my father responded with some of the most brilliant circular logic ever foisted by humanity. He simply said "You didn't know them before you met them so you don't need to say goodbye."

As a good teenager, I argued to no avail. I ended up fuming through dinner then sneaking out of the cabin after they had fallen asleep. All these years later, that nonsensical argument has stayed with me and I've even used it on my own teenager.

However, there is a larger point to this anecdote. Much like my father's nonsensical rhetorical tautology there is another truth that I have accepted: Needs don't exist until discovered.

I never thought my tablet computer would be indispensable to my work. When the first tablets came onto the market, I remember thinking they were nothing more than toys. How quickly my opinion changed once I started using it. Now, it is an integral tool for work. It is now a viable need that never existed before.

As technology advances, we will see whole new needs invented that never existed before. This will be the source of many future jobs that just don't exist yet. Right now we are suffering from upheavals caused by shifting economics and the replacement of repetitive labor with machines. Once the new needs of society and business emerge, we will see whole new fields of employment that never existed before, simply because those needs had not yet been invented.

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