‘If you can’t analyse data, you won’t be employable’

Australia will be a vastly different place in 30 years if Telstra’s retiring Chief Scientist Hugh Bradlow’s predictions are anywhere near the truth.

Speaking at a special CCI and Telstra breakfast last week, Bradlow says the most noticeable difference will be in transport.

He says internal combustion engines will no longer exist, no human being will be driving cars on public roads and car ownership will probably be shared.

We’ll also have flying cars, he says, but not like in the movies. They’ll be more like drones large enough to carry people.

He says emerging technology areas like the internet of things, which means the interconnection of everyday items through the internet, are already changing every aspect of our lives.

Using agriculture as an example, Bradlow says the internet of things is making everything more efficient and exact.

“The internet of things is allowing farmers to measure in much more detail things like crop growth, weed growth and where you put moisture in the soil on a much more granular level,” he says.

“There are already companies that are measuring using satellite technology and hyper-spectral measurements that will give the farmer a very detailed analysis on their paddocks and how much moisture they’ve got and where they need to add moisture and where they need to add herbicide and pesticide.

“They can compare that on a regional basis so they can see whether they’re at best practice or they’re way off best practice.”

Given the amount of change occurring, Bradlow says it is important children learn science, engineering, technology and math at school, as well as empathy.

“I always say don’t become a lawyer or doctor, so two of my kids have done law and medicine,” he says.

“The fact is the jobs that will survive are the jobs that involve human beings.

“We have to have jobs, we have to teach our children empathy and EQ (emotional intelligence) is going to be more important than IQ.

“The second thing is it’s no longer good enough to say ‘I could never do maths and I got on fine’.

“Everyone needs to have an understanding of STEM because it’s going to be the way in which the world works.

“Everything you do will rely on data and the analysis of that data. If you have no idea how analysis is done you are going to be unemployable.”


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