Technology enables us to move beyond tasks that used to hold us back.
Before stone tools, man had to hunt with sticks and a blunt rock. With the advent of stone tools men we're no longer required to beat animals, they could now make a more efficient kill.
The printing press made it much easier to remember history. It made it so that scribes were freed to do something better. People could record things easier and more cheaply. This allowed people to tackle bigger challenges.
With the industrial age and machination, people no longer had to use pure muscle power. They could now create machines that had more muscle then men, and could do a job many more times in a row than men could. This again freed men to pursue new paths.
Now we have computation. What role does computation currently fulfill? Currently computation automates repeatable processes. No longer do you have to calculate equations by hand, or do countless other things that people were paid to do repeatedly.
To be valuable to society, one must do something that current technology is incapable of doing. What is technology currently unable to do?
First, let's analyze what it can do. To see what technology is now capable of doing that it didn't used to do, look for jobs that used to be easy to get, but now aren't.
The first one that comes to mind is manufacturing. Manufacturing is gone. Most things that are manufactured are almost completely automatable. Between machination and computational automation, we have freed people from having to do repetitive tasks in manufacturing things. Today, the jobs in manufacturing are either replaced by the new technology or, in some cases, outsourced. Outsourcing is only temporary, as the technology we have in America is spread, we will see the manufacturing jobs in those areas being replaced by technology.
Of course, initially, this leads to a lot of pain. People can no longer easily get good and high paying jobs in manufacturing. The people that worked in manufacturing are hurt. They developed a skill, and provided value with it, but now society isn't valuing their skill, because current technology can do it better and cheaper.
Where technology can do something better and cheaper, there is a lot of pain and complaining.This isn't to say that all pain related to industries is due to new technology, but it is something to pay attention to. As technology changes at an ever increasing rate it would probably be beneficial for people to question whether an industry is in pain because of new technology taking over that industry.
If it looks like the cause of the pain is new technology becoming more prevalent, then it is obviously time to look elsewhere in society to provide value. Do you think the scribes where initially very happy when the printing press became widespread? Probably not, they now didn't have a job.
Which also means, don't push an industry to remain the way it was if it is changing due to the new technology. Would it have been a good idea for the government to slow the growth of the printing press and give tax breaks to the scribes? Obviously not. So don't chase something that you can't catch. Sure you can delay it, but why would you want to?
The point of this exercise is simple. Look within the present industries for industries in pain due to new technology. Don't push those industries away from change, the new technology will open up new frontiers for better jobs.
The next trick is to understand what new frontiers are opening, what areas technology doesn't yet tackle; this is where the value is and hence where jobs and money are.
How can you learn to understand this? The easiest again is to look at the job market. In what industries are people optimistic? What industries are growing?
If you look at these industries you will probably notice that most of them offer something to society that technology can't do very well yet.
I'm a programmer, often pushing the boundaries of technology, and I have plenty of work and value to add, why? Because computers can't program themselves. Why? Computers aren't creative. They can't design, they can't solve ambiguous problems.