Industrial positions are often the description I hear
from PhDs and post-doctoral fellow. Honestly,
these professionals seek a position as a scientist or
engineer in business. That means ironically that
they need to project a profit motive or problem
solving motivation in their background and interests.
As you probably know recruiters are bombarded
with a large number of public relations packages.
So they use many times either a screening routine
or software ATS for uploaded documents that screen
the packages for keywords and words in context.
The recent issue of Money magazine has an article
Kristin Bahler. I agree with many of the concepts
yet the interpretation is significantly different for
professionals with several years of experience.
Bahler presents things that business might be
expecting for recent BS candidates. It is altogether
different for Post-doctoral fellows in terms of content.
For them, there is a need to convert an uninterested
reader to an interested professional reader. Thus,
critical information about what professionals are
expected to do need to be incorporated, like
- ability and experience in a fast paced environment
- experience winning grants writing proposals for
- managing budgets and negotiating experiences
How do you represent this if you are a post doc with
more than a couple of years experience?
Consider creating a new addendum for your resume
package called a “List of Projects” where you list
project work, areas of leadership responsibility
(often outside the technical realm) and interesting
projects that required you to do the extraordinary.
Some mention of List of Projects might be presented
in your Linkedin profile (which must be up to date)
and your web-page (which leading post docs will
have for an internet presence.).
Another conversation might address internationals
seeking employment in US. So often, Visa issues
cloud their futures. One of the questions they might
pose during their post doc is to ascertain if the
sponsoring organization will sponsor their visa
application. The range of potential employers is
limited if their Visa situation is problematic. Can
they seek employment in a start up for which they
are well qualified? Since start ups can fail and make
them need to fall back on a back up job search,
sponsorship can be lost.
It seems imperative to seek employment in large
organizations or government institutions where
the visa can be obtained with commonly more
What might a post-doctoral application contain:
-resume (with reference to Linkedin profile)
-list of references (not part of resume)
-list of publications, patents and presentations
-list of projects
easy to read, error-free, neat looking,
When you are in various career paths your
activities tend to place you in a silo of activities
to meet agreed upon goals. You develop and
use tactical skills to improve things, to identify
things and to make or combine things. You may
also use SPC or DOE to identify problems or
Leaders will do this. However, they also develop
strategic thinking. Jo Miller’s article,
addresses some of the unique features of the
strategist and the tactician, including:
1. Shift from day-to-day thinking to years ahead
then work backwards from goals, like in a
2. Work with groups outside your limited chain
of command. Learn their SWOT (strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities and threats) for longer
term to see where there is commonality to
engage and collaborate. Ask if you can help
3. Look for areas to change for the better–
transformational change. Where tacticians
chip away at goals and do not threaten
the status quo, strategists involve change and
build new skills.
Thus, change your time horizon, broaden your
scope of influence, and seek out transformative
changes. It is an article worth reading.
Barbara Oakley, part of the team delivering ‘highly attended’
MOOCs, authored a topical book “Mindshift: Breakthrough
Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential”
that can open up your thinking.
It left me with at least seven take home messages shared below.
1. Learning via the Pomodoro Technique
turn off distracting devices and sources
focus on work for 25 minutes
take a few minute break to rest your mind; repeat…
2. Cultures cling to legacies; change is fought off. New ideas
form and flow with two classes: young, unexposed people
and people who change fields.
3. ”Second skilling” permits you to adapt to the changing career
environment. Two tactics: look to increasing and decreasing
hiring trends; overall picture of skill distribution and where
are budgets decreasing and lowering of skills
4. ”Chunk” your learning practicing more on the areas you find
5. Opportunity results from skill and luck. Luck surfaces from
a combination of (1) seeing problems as opportunities, (2)
constantly upgrade and learn new skills, (3) assertively
6. People have different learning styles. Learn yours. One is
focused, another is diffuse. You should use both, but
understand what works best for you.
7. Value of selective ignorance. You have only so much ‘cognitive
energy’. Be selective in what you choose.
This book is highly recommended for undecided people and
professionals in-transition. [The review cited above provides
a thoughtful assessment.]
Are you feeling stress in yourself? Need to make decisions?
Too many things to do and not enough time? Meeting with
new people, people with opposing views or too many people?
Feel cramped or feel inhibited?
These things can happen in relaxed times or in business
situation. They can happen without notice, rapidly or
with a time suspension or delay.
GP contacted me about a post graduate role and her
uncertainty over her visa situation, application process,
negotiation of starting date and leaving date situation.
GP has interest in an informal offer, but feels she faces
a series of hurdles, which create anxiety and stress.
She “presented” a stressed mindset in our conversation.
So it was important to (1)share that several other colleagues
each faced similar challenges and dared to commit to
a course of action and take it as a learning experience.
locks us from moving forward.
(2)Compliment her for moving forward and following up
on an opportunity that is within her reach.
(3)Deal proactively with barriers she foresees.
However, knowledge alone will not necessarily reduce
her stress. Alice Boyes
has offered some proactive
physical, mental and behavioral ideas, a couple which
I had not known for relieving stress, –
- running your fingers over your lips
- slow down when you feel a stress or anxiety build
Some were ones that have worked for me–
- going outside into nature
- deep breathing
- power posing (Amy Cuddy)
- muscle relaxation; Yoga
- speaking openly with trusted mentors
- try new things, test things out, learn from others
Author, Boyes, has several others, since it is true
there is no one “magic bullet.”
To formulate positive movement forward we discussed
several things that references are asked when we are
contacted. Done as a collaboration, we built positive
hope in the direction she is seeking.
a. how long is our professional connection and in
b. what are clear strengths that will be valuable
in her next position, provide examples with stories and
The reference, me in this case, needs to personalize
Then, (4) provide a “lifeline” to contact whenever
she feels the need arising.
One of the crucial measures of developing research programs
is keeping in touch with new ideas and combinations with
new equipment and theories.
Several career paths place credibility of achievement on
publications [publications in peer reviewed publications].
How this is measured with Internet publications is not patently
obvious or at least consistent from one organization to another.
Nonetheless several sources of online publications are appearing.
provides global access and outlet to classified topic
ChemRxiv is a Figshare
product offers rapidly transmitted
of one-page preprints with a promise of tools to detect plagiarism.
[open API or via OAI-PMH].
to evolve from the commercial and professional society
journal paradigm. It will be important that strong professional
ethics are articulated in this evolving medium and there is
a viable enforcement mechanism for violations and dealing
with grey-area issues.
I received a request from PP after he received a long
sought after job offer. He accepted the offer which he
pointed out included a $2000 relocation reimbursement.
“…Since this is my first industry based job, best
professional practices to follow as a new employee.
One item is the company has not followed up on its $2K
relocation allowance, which they offered during phone and
Other things not mentioned in the hard offer was processing
my O-1 work visa.
I am expected to relocate in early November. Please let me
know what you think about my relocation allowance?”
1. HOW TO ACCEPT AN OFFER
It is critical to understand your critical first step in accepting
a job offer. Besides signing the appropriate document, you
should devise an acceptance letter that re-affirms key elements
of the offer letter agreement and items that were discussed in
all the interviews and information exchanges. This should be
sent either at the same time as the acceptance documents or
Included in the letter is a request to know a direct contact person
to whom you can consult with issues, questions and concerns.
You should be able to contact them at any time and feel
You should ask for a company annual report and employee
Clearly, this acceptance letter would specifically address
relocation and working visa processing.
2. RELOCATION INFORMATION
should be confirmed orally and confirmed in writing:
- househunting, including transportation, hotel and meals
- costs of selling and purchasing, including closing costs,
commissions, legal and recordkeeping expenses
- Position searching help for spouse
- travel expenses and temporary housing for the move
- Temporary housing in cases where the home is not
- moving company expenses and logistics for packing
loading, unloading and unpacking, as well as insurances
Please realize that the details of the relocation policy
need to be confirmed and in writing. Also it is critical to
confirm the specifics of what forms, receipts and
timing of submission / reimbursement in advance.
I recommended that PP should not be hindered from
asking for information and suggestions at any time.
A more comprehensive relocation benefit discussion
Not to be lost in this discussion is the tax breaks you are
entitled to for job change as long as it involves a move
of employer greater than 600 miles. Please note that if
the job search occurs over a significant period of time
with various expenses they can all be claimed, but you
are responsible for keeping receipts (credit card
documents may be enough, if accompanied by expense
3. VISA DISCUSSIONS
You should not shy away from pursuing a firm understanding
of responsible people, timelines and your role in employment
papers. This has been a topic in this blog. We know the
visa situation has changed and will change again so it is
critical to be well informed and have a back up plan.
Visiting an experienced technical professional, I asked
how he would help people who are thinking of a consulting
career.. He gave me a text by William Cohen, “How to
Make it big as a Consultant.” Then we discussed some things.
The Cohen book was more than 30 years old and did not
include any Internet related nor association-network approaches.
In Cohen are listed direct methods for contacting customers–
1- direct mail
2- cold calls
3- direct response ads
4- directories and yellow pages
5- former employees and directors.
So he does not get into push pull marketing so much in the
Internet age. It all seems to be “push” marketing. It is
confirmed by the “indirect methods”…
a- speaking to groups
c- professional associations
d- articles and books
e- letters to editors
f- teach a course and lead a seminar
g- public releases and broadcast releases.
These are all still applicable, but likely not relevant!
Clearly having a proactive web page, linkedin page and
pull marketing strategy is not known in 1985 when the
It is not an easy task and one that evolves rapidly.
Now there is something in addition to learn from this
exercise….check the publication date of the book, and,
see if there is a more recent edition. There is in this
Over a 30 - 45 year career, most everyone gets relieved of their
position. Sometime it is sudden, other times there are indicators
that some positions will be severed and still other times we are
faced with a choice to stay or leave.
Let me pose that it should be part of our regular personal planning
process that we consider building resilience into our thinking. Create
your personal action plan, keep your options open and know what
your personal goals, musts and wants are.
As much as possible plan so that it is not a total surprise.
contributed a piece offering things to do if you lose
your position. I cannot agree with her more on
1. don’t lose your “cool”, stay calm and manage your emotions
2. personally ask for recommendations from specific individuals
(If someone hesitates at all, or will not provide a good one, move
2a. these days more and more Linkedin recommendations can be
a useful starter in situations where policies limit employees from
3. You should be continually active in your professional network,
also ask references for their network contacts and ideas.
I found Umoh’s thoughts about cleaning up your facebook, online
profiles and photos and comments something that might be easily
Formulate a modifiable plan of action that includes push
, situations where you you meet people
in person and volunteer roles in professional organizations.
Taking shorter term, temporary roles may be a big plus, while
you enroll for unemployment benefits and update your master
resume, targeted resumes for each position and Linkedin
profiles using current keywords for your industry and field.
Consider asking for outplacement services as part of your
that you have signed.
Publication is a critical focus in the scientific world. Societies
have publication wings. There is a large commercial publication
business that earns nearly $20Bn/year with a third being
profits. The Guardian published a revealing article about the
publication world which this blog has offered comments.
and critical thinking when reading
This blog is on record for supporting the idea of “open access”
and questioning the viability of “rating” journals based on
citations in the internet age [it is like mindless “likes” in
Been following of Deming’s articles on Applied Statistics
for decades. He is in the middle of an important series on
limits of detection. I just received a water analysis report
and have received blood and urine medical reports that refer
to one or another of these. These articles are important and
significant for all of us. We should know and use these terms
One of the types of questions I ask in some interviews
concerns gas cylinder set-up and use. Articles in LC/GC
often reveal solid scientific thinking to answer questions
in this area.
ROBERT MAXWELL AND PROFITING ON SCIENCE
Although the ACS continues its efforts to
profit center, most of the members do not realize what
is going on in the publication business. This Guardian
article goes into details what the ACS publications
division might be emulating.
Should we not ask questions to make more science, often
paid for via taxes, available free online?
SCIENCE AND THE LIMITS OF DETECTION
SOURCE: S. N. Deming, Amer. Laboratory June/July 2017
Deming teaches in this article L(D) the limit of detection, which
he points out is different than the smallest amount of
analyte that can be detected or the limit of quantitation (appearing
in future articles.).
He points out:
- false positive risk needs to be appropriate for the application.
[drug testing example]
- in a plot of a calibration curve with a non-zero intercept, L(D)
the limit of detection is the amount of analyte that yields a
signal outside the error of the false negative.
These comments are often not brought out in many classes.
SOURCE: J. V. Hinshaw, LC/GC North America 11-2016, P. 41
What I like about Hinshaw is that he does a fishbone diagram
to assess a wide variety is issues that could come up in
working with a common analytical tool.
After our formal technical training, which may be experiential,
[non-academic] but most often involves the academic realm–
BS, MS, PhD and post-doc, many in government, industry and
entrepreneurial career paths find business certification a very
positive growth dimension.
This can happen when we choose to continue formal academic
work with an MBA or 13-week MBA certification. When we
explore this option we find 2-year and 3-year MBAs where the
longer term allows developing specialization skills. The 13-week
in-residence programs had prerequisites of solid business experience
and tighter admission and stronger longer term career commitment
from a sponsoring organization.
One clear strength of the MBA programs is the networking, both
formal, through the university, and informal, through connections
and associations (alumna, alumni).
In the 1980s formal business certification programs were developed
in parallel to MBA programs. These should be of interest to many
people since they may be more specific to certain aspects and
more broadly respected as providing necessary background and
organization useful in certain fields. These are the PMP Project
Management Professional and Six Sigma “Belt” programs.
I am surprised that ACS has not incorporated both of these in
career continuous education plans.
Six Sigma asks about understanding customer requirements and
mapping a process to identify and measure defects, losses and waste
using statistical methods, measurement systems and data analysis.
The training in each seem to differ and it is worth noting PMP
An objective comparison of PMP and Six Sigma appears in this chart
Recently a colleague reported his experiences he observed
during his job search. It points out the importance of networking
 , doing After Action Reviews, knowing that you can build your
career by taking related positions, where you learn and practice
applicable skills productively. After all, a career is a process of
growth combined with continuous learning.
applied online and got a personal contact of mine to forward my resume
to the hiring team…he felt comfortable to refer me.
it was too late, they had already considered a candidate.
This year they contacted me. So as you have so many times emphasized,
networking is key to getting one’s resume noticed.
Career is a Process:
A senior level manager:
- Asked about my industry experience and was probing about my interests,
strengths and ability to work in a team. We really clicked in the interview.
It was a pleasant conversation about various aspects of manufacturing, QA,
QC , work ethics, and honesty. he was very pleased that I was familiar with
Quality Management System. I felt we were already colleagues in the interview.
Among questions asked:
- what I do not like, and what I like.
- given a situation what do I prefer: perfect and late, good and on time, or quick
and early…something like that. I elaborated on each as it all depends according
to me. For example, I recall saying it depends on how critical it is. In a situation
where you are looking at an API, it is critical to be within the acceptance
criteria/specifications, better be late but safe. But for a report, as long as all
the important information are there, I won’t delay it for perfection. I recall also
talking about how in a team, different people have their own preferences - in
terms of how to present a table. I personally don’t like to delay output for these
things (as long as it is not wrong).
Another Interviewer/non-technical manager:
- were able to relate a little as I had previous experience in the finance
department when i was in accounting.
- ended up in a conversation about the market, competitive advantage, pains
of month/year/quarter ends.
- Talked about SAP and Oracle.
- He actually appreciated that I knew about science and financial side of the
After Action Review:
- if I run into a situation like that again, I should transition my mindset into a
“sales pitch”- meaning, I should do the best I can to use facts from my
experience to support each criteria they are looking for.
- asked to visit the lab and areas of interests. I found it odd they did not propose.
We have brought up Mlodinow’s book, Subliminal, that offers
that human’s memory faculties are faulty. One suggestion is to
create a research notebook for yourself– it could be new business
ideas, new research projects, new and improved products…
We cannot sit still in this fast evolving world. We have minimal
memory resources, until computers evolved, and we can easily
store ideas, links and lists.
This entry offers two trends worth noting that you may incorporate,
even if you are not currently engaged in fields. Things are bothchanging and unpredictable
and it helps to try to be open-minded
both to new directions and opportunities.
DRUG DISTRIBUTION: MALDI-MSI
offered an keen review of an approach yielding new
insights into risk assessment of pharma candidates . Matrix-
assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectral imaging is
used to visualize where in samples chemicals and metabolites
are distributed in model system sections.
Cornett indicates that this tool might be required to
inform decisions on regulatory submissions, as it offers
deeper understanding of pharmacology and toxicology.
NOVEL CHEMISTRY: COMMERCE
Novel chemistry is found in patent literature, chemical journals
and offered by custom chemical firms. If it were one and
done, it would not be so special.
The idea is to open up our resource notebook to various inputs
for continuous learning.
So often articles and blog entries talk about hiring trends
for recent graduates. When I peruse them, it seems most
are either anecdotal (few specific examples highlighting
certain concepts) or statistical summaries that are often time
a year or more earlier than the date of publication.
This entry looks at your second and subsequent positions. So,
in another perspective, we can take a longer, career view.
A career is a process, not an outcome, with many transactions
-learning new skills,
-defining your strengths and building on them, and
-articulating your values so that others will understand
and appreciate you and your contributions.
As scientists, commenters
bring up the discussion of being
that of an occupation formed by setting up formal qualifications
offered by education, internship/apprenticeship and examination,
a regulatory organization which admits and restricts and has a
code of behavior.
Honestly, however, scientific disciplines, like chemistry, may not
be bound by discipline tracks when thinking about job markets.
This may be less important when we look at markets for
wrote a remarkable article on career mistakes
that hinder personal growth and happiness that we obtain from
careers. I contend these apply to advance degreed scientists.
Let me highlight five frames of mind that restrict the “real job market:”
1. hold off pursuing positions of interest due to <100% match to
musts and wants [lack of confidence, weak in resilience, fear of
failure; be willing to learn on the job and seek help]
2. lack of self assessment knowing your strengths and what makes
you thrive and be constantly challenged and engaged. [engage
psychological and economic instruments outside of your employment
chain of command]
3. fall behind in your learning curve of new skills and experiences
to those who extend themselves [could be in work environment and
professional/ volunteer organizations]
4. fail to take an outsider’s perspective of your industry, organization
and department. This can be a situation where you ‘coast’ for a while.
It is important to continue connecting and keeping up with your
5. miss opportunities to learn about branding your skills and abilities
and be visible in more than one organization. In the information era,
this can seem to be trying things that are not immediately rewarded
in one organization, but opens up opportunities in another.
[no funding to attend a professional meeting; become a volunteer,
offer to assume organizational responsibilities, show that you can be
FL and I have been working together for several years,
first during a post-doc, then, a second post-doc and a series
of interesting temporary positions. While the post docs
were related to her graduate training in advanced biomaterials
and coating technology, the temporary positions were in
a wide variety of disciplines from project management and
accounting, to analytical services, to quality control.
FL contacted me from outside the US about negotiating
a higher salary at a 10 year old company where a network
member currently works. FL was offered a position for six
months, after which there would be a review to determine fitness
for longer term. The contract specified starting date, supervisor,
and broad assignment responsibilities along with a starting
The initial request involved discussing what can be expressed
to bring up salary and that the salary being offered was
lower than current pay as a temp. The position is located in
Toronto, so it is a stretch to correlate ACS salary survey data
results, based on limited data and currency differences (although
I did approximate using estimated analogies.
SALARY INCREMENT IDEAS
First, however, thank the company for the pleasant news that
was received for the generous offer. It was highly sought and
enthusiastically received. FL is flexible in scope of the position
and hours of work, however, is there any room for compensation
discussions….wait, don’t fill silence with excuses, let the hiring
manager think and respond. State what your needs and desires
are before offering up give ups (you never know if your spouse
might not have separate benefit coverage.).
Ask for the firm’s annual report, employee handbook, and a
formal job description. After you receive and review them you
will be better able to discuss the offer details.
FL sought a $10K improvement. So we reviewed areas of
possible approaches– spousal health insurance, no relocation
expense, day care needs, hours of work, self improvement plan,
other deferrable benefits. Since FL’s spouse has family health
care coverage and there are no relocation needs, these could be
offered as “give ups” to measurably increase salary. FL is flexible
for hours of work and has no immediate day care needs.
If salary is not negotiable, ask if a sign-on bonus can be brought
up to compensate for the difference from your current position
and the unique bonus you might forfeit leaving your current
Have a list of other negotiating wish items– personal computer,
loaded with professional responsibility software, professional
society memberships, special training programs, special
commuter passes not listed in the employee handbook.
We also shared details of negotiating workshops brought up
It is worth asking for details of the firm’s current and recent
past finances that would be listed in the annual report. That
not being shared, along with number of employees and
ownership of properties where company activities are
Through Fidelity Investments, we were able to share
financial data on this start up. It is relevant to see if the
same data is offered. Going to work for a company is just
like investing in the company and it is important to perform
due diligence in its financial and commercial viability. Who
owns the company, what is the market value and trend
and are there legal issues of concern.
After critical elements of the position negotiation are resolved
satisfactorily, request that an updated offer letter be sent for
approval. Since its location is relatively close, it might be
a nice gesture to personally go to the location, sign it in
person and meet other employees with whom you will be
Send thank you notes to all members you meet. It will
leave a positive impression.
to support business research
This is a story about two conversations. The first is
one with a very accomplished senior grad student.
The second conversation is one of a series with
a department of chemistry chairperson.
Ph.D. LACKING NEEDED SOFT SKILLS
Almost Dr. Smith (not his or her real name) wanted
to talk about a situation in which she finds herself. She
has received several promising offers, only to be rejected
after providing references. She has learned from a reliable
source that the reference supplied the information that her
writing skills were not up to acceptable standards, whereupon
the offer was pulled.
She asked what can she do now? Learn by various means–
reading for style and formatting, specialized training to write
for specific audiences, and practice, of course are several
possibilities. Shouldn’t the grad school provide that for her?
The answer is generally, not in today’s climate.
Second conversation, now.
PROPOSAL TO CHAIRMAN TO OFFER PRACTICAL
[Bring a solution, when you ask about a big concern you
When the new chair was installed I went to her with the
concern that many graduates do not have essential writing
skills and other “Soft skills” that we need to be successful.
What are some courses, programs of study, and tutoring
assignments (shadowing, draft writing, editing, reading)
that are offered or can be offered? We will bring it up to the
dean, was one response.
Another time, post-docs are people without support,
representation or a voice. What can be done to help their
case? That is up to the individual PI was the response. I reflected
on several national labs, medical schools and NIH programs
and received the feedback. That is not something I can do.
I pursued: Why not? some of the ideas are nice, but I would
be stepping on people’s [departments] toes and it is imprudent
to do here.
Another reason is that I can not impinge on the time they are
working in the lab. They have so many distractions and
commitments as it is. To add another requirement would take
time from the research work that needs to get done.
So, it goes. Outside speakers emphasize it is important to “get
out of the lab” and learn extra-curricular skills through different
activities, internships and volunteer roles. Most students immediately
reflect that their boss would not like them doing that. Most say
they feel pressure to be in the lab 7×12 getting results.
While I receive consistent support for Professional Development
activities in summer and both semesters, I am only one and
so much more could be done to make a difference. What we
do is as much or more than is offered in other R1 institutions.
Please send in ideas and concepts working in other institutions.
I look forward to them.
What is my future like? many are asking as we face an
uncertain future. It seems as this was the case decades ago,
but it is more uncertain now.
What is the reason? What are the drivers?
Harari has something to say about this. Look at his TED Dialog
1. We have lost “our story”. The narrative that describes modern
life in the 21st century is not what previous generations’ stories
were. This is one of the major roots of upheavals seen around the
2. Technology is bringing people together in many ways while
it separates us into many many subgroups. The wealthy, in
information-rich positions, influence the decisions of authorities
and will take advantage enhancing income mal-distribution.
3. National priorities have no connection to reality in many global
issues. Job loss, despite all the rhetoric, is not as strongly
influenced by immigration as it is by robots, algorithms and AI.
4. Political leaders have very little influence to do good. They
have great influence in doing bad and it is usually not one
individual responsible, because there are many supporters and
people of influence.
See some of the reviews
of Harari’s work bring up several other
disconnects we observe and may not easily explained. Knowing
allows you to define for yourself
the meaning of joy, satisfaction, happiness and help.
From Dennis Brown:
Ideas 5 and 8 are applicable. Remember online marketing is
the current state of the art. Job seekers can use this tool
use of keywords
involvement in groups
It is amazing to realize the rapid changes in career
management factors we face. Psychology, economics and
-inference are longer term factors for our careers.
Let me list some specific examples:
ROUTINE TASK AUTOMATION
leveraged loans to automate functions with software and
robotics ) puts middle skilled workers in precarious straits.
[Read: recent graduates with no experience or internships.]
Those who do non-routine work (low-paid, unskilled and
richly paid, highly skilled) are in demand. We see this Job
Polarization in many situations with supporting elements
being stagnating wages and reallocation of roles from
specialization to variety of roles with less specialization.
Thanks to advances in deep learning and AI, computers can
perform not only manual but also cognitive tasks better and
faster than humans. This augers the result that highly trained
specialists are replaced by internet enhanced software, a
specific example is radiologists since much of their work
are “routine cognitive tasks.”
BLACK ELEPHANT SITUATIONS
for alternate energy sources, energy independence and electric
” A black elephant is a cross between a black swan, a low
probability, unanticipated event with enormous ramifications–
and the elephant in the room, a problem that is widely visible to
everyone, yet no one wants to address, even though we
absolutely know that one day we will have vast, black-swan-like
consequences.” Ocean acidification is an example.
Black elephant events can provide a once in a lifetime opportunity
or the end of the line for industries (think chemical photography),
companies, and directions in our careers.
COGNIFYING AND CONTINUOUS LEARNING
Adding AI to various tasks enables us to do more at lower cost and
higher efficiency. Add AI to laundry to tell washing machines to
adjust to the contents of each load as directed by the clothes (sensors).
AI added to chemistry can aid discoverability and optimization by
performing virtual experiments to reduce the number of lab
experiments to reach a goal. Think of the way Netflix and Kindle
come up with customer recommendations.
This is cognifying. All cognition is specialized. In this continuous
learning process we need to work with AI and robots and let
these tools take our routine tasks and help us dream up
new work that matters. There are four classes of jobs:
1. Jobs humans can do, but robots can do even better.
highway driving, tax preparation, routine x-ray analysis,
pre-trial evidence gathering, etc.
2. Jobs humans cannot do, but robots can.
remote locations, hazardous environments, monitoring,
then signalling an alarm. Jobs that would not be done without
robots and sensors.
3. Jobs we did not know we wanted done.
4. Jobs only humans can do– at first.
creativity (on what we should do), new situations, one of a
Our human assignment should be to keep making jobs for
robots and software.
Tom Friedman on Meet the Press restated the current situation
many job seeking technical degree individuals face.
[Hard to locate in a hour-long program. So, the statement
is cut-and-pasted into the COMMENT section.]
There is a section of Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s book
Second Machine Age that reviews the term “technological
unemployment.“ It is attributed to the use of human labor
not finding application in the emerging economy and finds
causes from inelastic demand (machines, robots and computers
replacing and not taking breaks in fault-tolerant activities),
people not adapting to skill needs and long term cost
reductions. Two recent articles speak to recent job loss
in the chemical enterprise and the perspective from a
different field, economics.
I cannot think of another situation where there is
big news of finding an unexpected source of a
needed chemical other than rare earth elements
in China.. This time it is helium.
Food science resources that might help us
manage chronic diseases seem to be rare. The
resources we see available are mostly proponents of
use or pharma companies for encouraging various
drug candidate use. Here is one on sweeteners that
should be shared widely.
SOURCES: J. Bessen HBR 2016, “Computers Don’t
Kill Jobs but increase Inequality“
The Economist, 6-25-2016 “Special Report:
Dolan, Detroit Free Press, “Dow to cut
700 Jobs in Central Michigan“
Despite simple explanations that computers are growing
jobs due to new applications and broader usage, the
story is not as clear as Bessen writes. You cannot
predict what you should learn and additionally, academics
are generally a technology generation behind actual
usage. The Economist special section covers briefly
what is known and gives more up to date detail that
many fields are continuously evolving with new AI
methods ie ‘deep learning software available on open
Dow recently announced job losses in the chemical
enterprise that will have ripple effects as they “rationalize
their labor force needs”. Sure there are business priorities
globalization will play a role as information can be shared
instantaneously and worked on anywhere in the world.
so you can see technical experts with advanced expertise
surviving, but there is much uncertainty for those seeking
full time, longer term employment.
The Economist series places one leg on each side of the
fence (pro and con), but you should look for areas of
opportunity (what robots and computers cannot do).
The longer term ripple effect of Dow-DuPont acquisition
and spin-offs are a visible example that the chemical
enterprise is not immune from this despite what popular
literature tries to sell.
HELIUM FIND IN AFRICA
SOURCE: NYTimes feed “Huge Helium Source found in Africa“
I was somewhat aware of the shortage of helium used
in many advanced technologies from Nick Leadbeater.
Working with Helium One, a Norwegian exploration firm
Oxford geologists uncovered a gas field rich in helium.
It is material released from rocks due to volcanic heat
in adjacent rocks. The finding is of large commercial
value and may lead to testing other similar formations
There are important implications for industry.
TEMPTING SWEETS MAY NOT BE ALL THAT GOOD
SOURCE: S Ernst, Amer. Laboratory, “Sweet Tooth”
June/July 2016 p. 6-7.
Ernst’s article on Sweet tooth captured my interest.
and led me to look at Sugarscience.org. There are
a number of metabolic tendencies that may the result
of food formulations that attract customers to purchase
and ingest what may not be best for them. The website
seems to be a terrific repository of reviewed information
not biased by organizations that profit from its content.