Basic Vs. Advanced Skills: A Contrast between a Dilapidated Nepali Bus and a Modern Uber

The driver smoothly maneuvered around animals, children, motorcycles and potholes. He was gentle with the clutch and rarely had to brake abruptly. As he squeezed through traffic seamlessly, it seemed as though he had an accurate understanding of the exact dimensions of the vehicle. All these were done without navigation devices or the constant distraction from looking at a phone. He was patiently focused on the road all day.

One of the dilapidated Nepali bus

Contrast this to my Uber experiences lately in big cities. That ever-annoying pulsing of the gas pedal, tail-gaiting the vehicle in front, and the inability to find the destination even with the assistance of multiple navigation devices.

Often, at the end of the modern Uber journey, I am left thinking to myself – “In the future the driver will be replaced by a robot and he will not be missed!” 

Back to Nepal, as we careened over mountain roads, I began to wonder what will happen to skilled drivers in the next 5 or 10 years. Will the human race cease to have driving skills? Is this a good or bad thing?

In modern cities, I was coming around to a conclusion that robots would do a better job of driving. However, I am not sure if the robots are ready for Nepal or the unexpected, or an impending crisis.

This leaves quite a conundrum, not only for driving but for many skills. As we automate, we are sure to lose basic skills, while the skills that remain important are more specialized and advanced. I can drive pretty well, but cannot come close to the Nepali bus driver’s skills.

How do we double down on the advanced skills as we lose the basic ones? What industry has gotten this right? In banking, we are automating basic functions, which is better for customers and the cost base. However, have we advanced our skills sets of forecasting, crisis management and data science at the same time?

I don’t have all the answers, but have a few days of trekking in Nepal to think about it.


The original article appeared on Michelle Katics’ Linkedin.

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