Domains You Need to Learn About
That concludes the list of skills you need to get started in the fight against machines taking your job. But there are some domains of knowledge that you need to be familiar with that don't require you to learn specific skills. Instead, learning about these domains will give you chunks of knowledge you can use to better understand the world you're living in and improve your ability to recognize when and how to adapt to it.
Domain #1: Technology
I'm not saying you need to learn how to write code (as I've mentioned before, I think that's a bad idea anyway). What I'm saying is that you need to, at the very least, get a handle on what is currently out there and what is right around the corner. You can only do that by diving into the world of technology and paying attention to trends.
This little book is an excellent example of transfer: it gives you insights into how computers operate, and it uses those insights to highlight how you can make better decisions. You can improve your strategic skills and your understanding of computers at the same time.
Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold
Code walks through how computers work, starting at the bit level. It gets technical, but it's worth reading if you don't know anything about the machines you interact on a daily basis. Petzold does an excellent job of demonstrating that computers work because of specific mathematical and electrical principles–not magic.
The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible by Lance Fortnow
The Golden Ticket explores what is possible with computers, which is both important and somewhat difficult to understand. You should read this even if you don't have a technical background of any kind, if only so you can get a better grasp on how hard it will be to automate certain tasks.
This is a collection of high-quality videos that explain the core ideas of computer science in an accessible, easy-to-understand format.
Domain #2: Business
Understanding the underlying business motivations behind automation is critical for staying ahead of it. If you can see where and how a business might start to leverage technology in specific ways, you'll be able to anticipate those moves before they can hurt you.
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
If you want to read a book that represents the core beliefs of people who run big companies in Silicon Valley, this is it. Even though I'm not a fan of Peter Thiel as a person, he knows what he's talking about when it comes to businesses.
Speaking as someone who used to work in finance, I can say this is, by far, the best layman's explanation of how finance works. It's an eye-opening exploration of how the banking and investment sectors operate that everyone who wants to understand the economy should read. Many people (maybe even you) have lost their jobs because of how these sectors work, and they're usually the ones pushing for businesses to be more efficient (which can involve automating jobs).
Despite the over-the-top title, this is actually a good book that you'll get a great deal of value out of. It covers negotiation, fundraising, the value of time and a variety of other critical business concepts, with a slightly philosophical approach. Felix Dennis was an outrageous character, but he had a lot of wisdom about business worth taking note of.
The Microeconomics and Macroeconomics playlist by Khan Academy
Economics is a deep, technical subject, but there's plenty of value to be had in watching some of these videos. The more you understand ideas like economies of scale, marginal cost and scarcity, the more you'll understand why businesses (of all sizes) operate the way they do.
Domain #3: Systems & Complexity
The world we live in is interconnected in ways that previous generations never could have imagined. We've built systems upon systems, and the complexity that is now out in the wild is now essentially out of control. Understanding how we got here and how to manage complexity (to the extent that it can be managed) is therefore of the utmost importance if you want to stay relevant.
Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension by Samuel Arbesman
If you want to get an idea of how we've built up this edifice of complex, interlocking technological systems, this is an excellent place to begin. Arbesman's observations about how intractable some of our problems have become are worth paying attention to.
A Crude Look at the Whole: The Science of Complex Systems in Business, Life, and Society by John H. Miller
This is an overview of complex systems and how they play a role in modern life. Miller's book is heavy on the explanation side, with less emphasis on the implications of complex systems (like what you get in Overcomplicated).
Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows
Thinking in Systems is the best starter book you can find for understanding systems. It walks through core concepts like stocks and flows without getting too bogged down in the issues of complexity.
Networks: A Very Short Introduction by Guido Caldarelli and Michele Catanzaro
Networks are important systems that permeate the modern world. Although we often think of social networks because we're all on Facebook, networks are actually in far more places than you think. Understanding and being able to identify networks is an important skill for navigating our complex world. There's also some transfer here because social networks (as in real, person-to-person networks, not Facebook) can be navigated in specific ways that increase your chances of getting things like jobs.
The Complexity Theory Course playlist by Complexity Labs
These gentle, illustrated videos walk you through what complexity is (as far as it can be defined) and how it affects systems out in the world.