CXR Recommends: New Scientist & You Can Do Anything – John Sumser

New Scientist is a weekly British magazine chock full of the latest insights and discoveries in the world of STEM. At 60 pages, including the covers, I am able to stay abreast of the huge range of changes that transform our world each week. The latest issue has a place of prominence on our dining room table. That way, it’s easy to slide science into the dinner conversation.

It’s British. There is an undercurrent of dry sarcasm that finds expression in letters to the editor and a weekly exploration of a scientific topic. The latest edition featured a debate about the fastest way to cool a cup of hot cocoa (stirring or not stirring). It turns out that dipping a spoon in and out of the hot drink is the best way to take the heat out.

The topics matter in HR and Recruiting. How does AI work? Can you trust it? What are the issues in data sharing? How do organizations work? Antidepressants, good or bad? Sleep. Black holes. Archaeology. Big tech and healthcare. Human performance. Genetics. Algorithms. Geology. How other creatures learn. Colonizing Mars. Neuroscience.

In small weekly doses, you’d be amazed at what you can learn. Get the paper subscription. Keep it where you are likely to browse it.

On a different front, George Anders, the Pulitzer prize winner who is looking into careers and recruiting, just published You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education. Anders makes the case that the qualifications driven search for technical workers is giving way to a shortage of people who can actually think.

In a Liberal Arts education, the learner is exposed to vast terrains of information. The challenge is to figure out what’s important and to be able to tell that story. Many courses are surveys because the universe under discussion is so enormous. The student must learn to pick, choose, and synthesize.

This is the complementary opposite of technical training in which mastery of a totality is required.

Today, we are entering a time of significant paradox. Computing is about to bury us in an avalanche of precise predictions. We are going to be able to bet, with blackjack levels of accuracy, the likelihood that a new hire will work out or that an existing employee will stay. With an infinite supply of prediction, the real problem becomes how to make sense of it.

The Liberal Arts graduate is a sense maker. When companies and their jobs are changing rapidly, you need a supply of people who can be thrown in the deep end and come out swimming.

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John Sumser
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John Sumser is a principal analyst for HRExaminer, an independent analyst firm covering HR Technology and the intersection of people, tech, and work. John’s mix of experience over the course of his career gives him a broad and unique perspective on the industry. Like anyone trying to process a lot of information, he is two or three steps ahead in some areas and still learning about others.

Sumser’s work includes deep research into the nooks and crannies of HR Technology to identify and explain rapidly evolving trends. Built on a foundation of engineering, design, and philosophy, John’s seeks to understand and advise clients on where their technology works best, for whom, and in what context.

The HRExaminer is Sumser’s vehicle for understanding an explaining the inner workings of the industry. With three weekly podcasts, and written commentary, he covers emerging ideas, the state of the industry, and the executives who operate it.

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CXR Recommends: New Scientist & You Can Do Anything – John Sumser

by John Sumser time to read: 2 min