Humans Need Not Apply

The end of work… and not in a good way

So I’ve been banging on about this for months now, but someone has made a very watchable video about it. Take a look and then think about the future.

Pretty chilling stuff, eh.

29 Apr 2014, 12:28pm
career technology


One Future of EFL?


“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee” (John Donne)

I had an interesting conversation yesterday on Facebook. I was talking about the importance of financial literacy and how everyone should be saving for retirement or at least for an uncertain future. Some of the answers I got were along the lines of “I can’t afford to retire, so I will just continue working indefinitely”.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the coming jobs apocalypse and the conversation above got me thinking about how this will apply to teaching English as a foreign language.

I believe that within a relatively short amount of time, real-time translation and interpretation will be available to almost anyone. Auto-translate on websites is now a thing and voice recognition is accelerating thanks to projects like Siri. The inexorable progress of computer speeds and storage means that it is just a matter of (rapidly shrinking) time before good enough versions of these are on every mobile device.

At that point, what happens to foreign language education?

A few people will still need to develop foreign language skills, including diplomats or people who are planning to live in a foreign country. For pretty much anyone else, cheap and reliable automatic translation will meet their needs. In that situation,

  • will parents still see a need for their children to learn English?
  • will school systems still insist that everyone learn English and use it to determine educational rankings?
  • will companies still encourage their employees to develop their language skills?

I don’t know how long it will take society to adapt to the new technological paradigm. It could take a long time for inertia and precedent to be overcome. But I do think that in the near future the current mass-market for EFL will likely disappear.

If you are an EFL teacher and more than ten years from retirement, how do you see your career progressing? Do you have a plan B? 

Get a Job Teaching English in Japan

Get a Job Teaching English in Japan

My second ebook, Get a Job Teaching English in Japan, is free on Amazon Kindle for the next couple of days. It’s aimed at people new to Japan, but I would be really grateful if you would grab a copy and leave an honest review on Amazon. The book is available in all the Kindle stores and you should be able to find it with a simple search.

If you have any comments about the content, please let me know! One of the nice things about Kindle is that you can fix mistakes after ‘printing’.

Thanks for all your support.

What’s missing in education?

missing piece blue

I got up before 5am today (summer here is rough on sleep) and started thinking about formal education and how it fails to educate people in the most important ways. There are three really important areas I feel formal schooling lets people down.

All of them are things that took me until my mid-30s to figure out, and I have had one of the best educations available -private school, famous university, and post-graduate study. I don’t remember any of these being addressed at any of my educational institutions, yet they are probably the most important things in terms of having a happy and productive life.


The importance of exercise, how to include exercise into your life, the benefits of lifting weights or doing bodyweight training, basic nutritional information, healthy and unhealthy diets, how to watch out for sugar (poison, basically), dangers of processed carbohydrates, benefits of protein and fats.

Being healthy through a combination of physical exercise and a balanced diet is the foundation to a happy life. It should be a core part of compulsory and continued education.


How to budget, the power of interest (both on debt and savings), different investing options, the pros and cons of home ownership, how to use credit responsibly, how to build up savings and passive income, deferring purchases, how to think about money.

Being financially secure through an ’emergency fund’ of cash savings and having an income-producing portfolio of investments accumulated by saving every month won’t make you happy -but it will ensure that money problems do not make you unhappy.


Identifying things you want to achieve, breaking them down into manageable goals, doing self-directed research, and working consistently until completion are incredibly valuable skills.

We live in an age of increasing and decreasing opportunity. It is probably easier now than ever before for people to start small side businesses and have a shot at creating value for others and an income for themselves. At the same time, traditional employment where you get money in exchange for doing what you are told is shrinking alarmingly. All over the world young people are finding it harder and harder to find jobs that pay well and provide security.

An entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to set up and deal with your own projects is one way to provide employment security. Unlike in the past, setting up a side business in the age of the internet has minimal costs and little financial risk.


Now, I don’t think schools can magically teach these things to every student, thus leading to a utopian future where we are all healthy, financially responsible, productive members of society 🙂

However, I believe that giving every young person a solid grounding in the three areas above would at least give them a chance to build upon them later in life. At least when I went through school and university these things weren’t even touched upon.

My top recommendations for further reading: Mark Sisson (Mark’s Daily Apple) for health, Andrew Hallam (the Millionaire Teacher) for wealth, and Sebastian Marshall for productivity.

TED Talk: What will future jobs look like?

Here’s an optimistic TED talk on yesterday’s topic (thanks Tom!).

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