In this episode of Work in Progress, Gary Shapiro, president & CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), joins me to talk about the world’s biggest tech event – the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 – underway this week in Las Vegas.
More than 100-thousand people are expected at CES to get a look at what’s ahead for us in 2023 and beyond from more than 1,000 exhibitors.
“What we’re going to see is the growth of so many categories such as digital health and EV (electric vehicles) and all the different transportation alternatives. It’s one of the largest car shows in the world, along with the whole ecosystem and new technologies that are coming, which the car companies are relying on,” says Shapiro.
He says there will be a lot of focus on artificial intelligence, virtual reality, cybersecurity, food security, agriculture, sustainability, and entertainment.
“They’ll be really cool. You will be inspired and you will come back with 50 story ideas,” Shapiro tells me.
Jobs in the Tech Industry
Shapiro agrees that all companies are tech companies, inasmuch as technology plays a role in all industries now – from hospitality to retail to finance to manufacturing.
Over the past few months, there have been layoffs in the tech industry, but Shapiro remains very bullish on the industry and the American workforce.
“There are definitely tech layoffs going on. But even in the tech industry now, there’s more jobs open by a two-to-one ratio than there are jobs being lost. It’s just a matter of some companies rebalancing. Some companies will do well, some companies will go under, and that’s part of the creative destruction. That’s an important part of our innovation system,” he says.
“There are jobs out there that are in great demand right now. If you’re into data analytics, if you’re into cybersecurity, you could get a job immediately.
“One of the great things about our country is we are the global leader in innovation in so many areas and there’s so many reasons for that. It’s our culture. It’s the fact that we are an immigrant culture. Most of us came from people who wanted a better life. We’re the largest diverse culture in the world of any country. Diversity promotes innovation.
“You could start a small business, and potential employers view that as something that’s very positive. So we learn new skills. We’re willing to change. We’re willing to change what we’re doing and we’re willing even to do it later in life. I think that’s an important thing.
“The tech industry is wonderful because it’s been growing for many years now. The growth forever is impossible for any industry. So there’s cycles and maturity gives you the opportunity to view that historically and realize we’ll get out of this cycle, we’ll move forward.
“We have a very strong country, it’s still very innovative. We’re doing great things. I mean, we always see our own blemishes, but the reality is our people are really bright. Americans, they’re talented, they’re innovative, they solve problems and they come from everywhere.”
Virtual Reality and AI
As its name Consumer Electronic Show suggests, the tech innovations on display are geared toward the consumer, but there is no doubt it will also change the way we work. New technology often means transformed – even new – jobs. How we train for the skills needed for the jobs is also changing.
Virtual reality has been around for several decades now. More and more, it is being used to train workers for both new and old jobs. Shapiro says, “There are things that you would expect and things you wouldn’t expect, and you’ll see a lot of those at CES.”
“We all know where we’re going, getting there maybe bumpy and different and not totally as we expected, but the result will be there with VR. The best example that we’ve been doing for a while already is the airplane cockpit. It obviously costs a lot of money to fly someone on an airplane. It’s expensive, it’s dangerous, especially with a beginner. So, now the training has shifted over, so much of it is VR.
“But it doesn’t have to be just that. It could be for surgery. It could be for driving. It could be for many different areas of human endeavor where you are basically learning in a very sophisticated way through machines, if you will, that are very smart and they give you the education and experience, figure out what you’re doing wrong, give you the immediate feedback, correct you as opposed to how we’ve done things for thousands of years.
“There are so many entrepreneurs out there. There are so many people trying to do something. At CES, we have OVR, a company which is advancing virtual technology (through) smell, using different senses.”
Shapiro says VR can be used to educate both adults and children and “there’s also other things we’re doing to try to encourage people to learn.”
“There’s been a vision and technology that as artificial intelligence develops, it’ll allow people to have personalized education. Some people are oral learners. Some people are visual. Some people like rewards. Some people like games. Some people like recognition. We all learn differently and we have to figure out how it does work.”
Because of the gap between the skills many people have today and the skills that are changing in the workforce, CTA is putting a lot of emphasis on learn-and-earn experiences.
“One of the areas we have focused on as an organization is white collar apprenticeships. There’s a whole range of apprenticeship programs where you actually get paid for perhaps a year and you get a guaranteed job when you’re done and you’re skilled and trained in so many different areas.
“I think that’s one of the models for the future. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
A Focus on Fundamental Human Securities and Rights
Shapiro says there’s an important new partnership this year with the United Nations, and a partner of theirs, the World Academy of Science and Technology “to focus on fundamental human securities or rights as we know them.”
“These are rights that every human being should have and technology makes them come alive – the right to health care, the right to clean air and clean water, the right to food, the right to community and involvement, the right to political choice and involvement. These are things which are fundamental to who we are as humans,” he tells me.
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Look for our reports on CES this week on social and weeks to come here on www.workingnation.com.
Episode 255: Gary Shapiro, president & CEO, Consumer Technology Association
Host & Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch and Melissa Panzer
Theme Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0
Download the transcript for this podcast here.
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