Thinking machines: the skilled jobs that could be taken over by robots

13. November 2015

Date: 13-11-2015
Source: The Guardian

Analysts warn that automation is now affecting mental labour as well as physical. So what tasks are vulnerable?

Fear of mass unemployment has been proved wrong as automation makes the economy stronger

The fear that robots will destroy jobs and leave a great mass of people languishing in unemployment is almost as old as automation itself. And yet, from the Luddites onwards, the fears have been eventually proved wrong, and the economy has ended up stronger than before.

But more and more analysts worry that this may be about to change. And on Thursday the Bank of England’s chief economist warned that this wave of automation is threatening skilled roles. The jobs of the middle classes, with their expensive university educations, are now at risk. As a result, a huge number of jobs that were previously thought safe from machine-led disruption are firmly in the firing line. Read the rest of this entry »


Artificial intelligence: ‘Homo sapiens will be split into a handful of gods and the rest of us’

9. November 2015

Date: 09-11-2015
Source: The Guardian
:
A new report suggests that the marriage of AI and robotics could replace so many jobs that the era of mass employment could come to an end

If you wanted relief from stories about tyre factories and steel plants closing, you could try relaxing with a new 300-page report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch which looks at the likely effects of a robot revolution.

http://www.bofaml.com/content/dam/boamlimages/documents/articles/D3_006/11511357.pdf

But you might not end up reassured. Though it promises robot carers for an ageing population, it also forecasts huge numbers of jobs being wiped out: up to 35% of all workers in the UK and 47% of those in the US, including white-collar jobs, seeing their livelihoods taken away by machines. Read the rest of this entry »


Once regarded as safe havens, the professions are now in the eye of the storm

17. October 2015

Date: 17-10-2015
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter
Subject: Professor Dr Robot QC

IN 1933, as the Depression ground on, two British sociologists, Alexander Carr-Saunders and Paul Wilson, wrote a book celebrating the professions. They describe them as “stable elements” in a turbulent world, which “inherit, preserve and hand on a tradition.” They act as “centres of resistance to crude forces which threaten steady and peaceful evolution”.

Professions resist these “crude forces” through high barriers to entry. They routinely limit their recruitment to people with degrees. Some, such as medicine or law, require professional licences and sometimes membership in professional bodies. Others demand long periods of apprenticeship: although anybody can call themselves a management consultant, elite firms such as McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group provide their recruits with extensive training and only promote a minority to partnerships. The oldest professions also emphasise the importance of tradition: professors dress up in medieval gowns on ceremonial occasions and British barristers wear wigs. Read the rest of this entry »


Job-Saving Technologies

15. October 2015

Photo of Michael Spence

Michael Spence

Michael Spence, a Nobel laureate in economics, is Professor of Economics at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Academic Board Chairman of the Fung Global Institute in Hong Kong, and Chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on New Growth Models. He was the chairman of the independent Commission on Growth and Development, an international body that from 2006-2010 analyzed opportunities for global economic growth, and is the author of The Next Convergence – The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World.

Photo of James Manyika

James Manyika

James Manyika is the San Francisco-based director of the McKinsey Global Institute.

OCT 15, 2015, Project Syndicate

SAN FRANCISCO – This is an age of anxiety about the job-killing effects of automation, with dire headlines warning that the rise of robots will render entire occupational categories obsolete. But this fatalism assumes that we are powerless to harness what we create to improve our lives – and, indeed, our jobs.

Evidence of technology’s potential to help resolve our job concerns can be found in online talent platforms. Digital platforms already have transformed many parts of the economy. The online marketplaces built by Amazon and Alibaba, for example, have reshaped the retail landscape, partly by changing the local nature of retail markets. Read the rest of this entry »


Can We Shape the Robot Revolution?

7. October 2015

Date: 07-10-2015
Source: Technology Review

A robotics pioneer warns that technologists must consider how advances in machine intelligence will eradicate jobs.

BrooksRodney Brooks

New technologies are poised to have a profound impact on employment and society, robotics pioneer Rodney Brooks warned on Monday at Solve, a conference being held this week at MIT.

Brooks, a professor emeritus at MIT and one of the cofounders of the robotics company iRobot, said rapid advances threaten to upset many areas of work in the coming decades. “We see a common theme right now,” Brooks said, “which is digital technology changing the nature of work.”

Robotics is already playing a role in a major employment shift in manufacturing, in fact. Safer, cheaper, and smarter robots could foster a shift in employment in countries such as China in the coming years, as rising wages enable people to move from manufacturing to other kinds of employment. Brooks founded a company called Rethink Robotics that is making a robot designed to take over tasks currently done by hand on manufacturing lines.

During Solve, high-profile scientists and business leaders will consider trends that could affect the ability of millions of people to find meaningful employment. Sessions aimed at addressing the issue will include academics such as Erik Brynjolfsson, who has researched the issue of digital innovations and employment, and Eric Schmidt, chairman of Alphabet (the company previously known as Google).

Brooks compared the broader coming technological shift to the invention of the cotton gin—a device for automating the process of separating cotton fibers from seeds. Read the rest of this entry »


The End of Work as We Know It

1. July 2015

Date: 01-07-2015
Source: Project Syndicate

JEAN PISANI-FERRYPisani-Ferry CC

Jean Pisani-Ferry is a professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and currently serves as Commissioner-General for Policy Planning for the French government. He is a former director of Bruegel, the Brussels-based economic think tank.

PARIS – In 1983, the American economist and Nobel laureate Wassily Leontief made what was then a startling prediction. Machines, he said, are likely to replace human labor much in the same way that the tractor replaced the horse. Today, with some 200 million people worldwide out of work – 30 million more than in 2008 – Leontief’s words no longer seem as outlandish as they once did. Indeed, there can be little doubt that technology is in the process of completely transforming the global labor market.

To be sure, predictions like Leontief’s leave many economists skeptical, and for good reason. Historically, increases in productivity have rarely destroyed jobs. Each time that machines yielded gains in efficiency (including when tractors took over from horses), old jobs disappeared, but new jobs were created. Furthermore, economists are number crunchers, and recent data show a slowdown – rather than an acceleration – in productivity gains. When it comes to the actual number of jobs available, there are reasons to question the doomsayers’ dire predictions. Yet there are also reasons to think that the nature of work is changing. Read the rest of this entry »


Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2015

5. March 2015

Date: 05-03-2015
Source: http://www.scientificamerican.com/

From autonomous drones to emergent AI to digital genomes, this year’s list from the World Economic Forum offers its latest glimpse of our fast-approaching technological future

Fuel-cell vehicles have long promised several major advantages over those powered by electricity or hydrocarbons.

SA Forum is an invited essay from experts on topical issues in science and technology.

Editor’s note: Today the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on Emerging Technologies, one of the organization’s networks of expert communities that form the Global Agenda Councils, released its Top 10 List of Emerging Technologies for 2015. Bernard Meyerson, chief innovation officer of IBM and author of the following essay, is chair of the Meta-Council. Scientific American editor-in-chief Mariette DiChristina is serving as vice-chair.

Technology is perhaps the greatest agent of change in the modern world. Although never without risk, technological breakthroughs promise solutions to the most pressing global challenges of our time. From zero-emission cars fueled by hydrogen to computer chips modeled on the human brain, this year’s Top 10 Emerging Technologies list—an annual compilation from the World Economic Forum (WEF)—offers a vivid glimpse of the power of innovation to improve lives, transform industries and safeguard our planet. Read the rest of this entry »


Illah Nourbakhsh on the Future of Robotics

9. July 2014

Date: 09-07-2014Strelka
Source: The Wall Street Journal

The Carnegie Mellon Professor Says Robots Will Fuse the Physical and Digital Worlds Into One

Dr. Nourbakhsh is a professor of robotics and director of the Create Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, and the author of “Robot Futures.”

Sunday, April 1, 2035. You are house-hunting, driving to an open house showing to meet the owners, and now your car is speaking Esperanto, thanks to your daughter’s April Fools’ antics. Eventually you convince the car to return to your native tongue, and it queries whether you want your usual morning Starbucks cappuccino delivered to your destination. You arrive, jump out, and a Starbot punctually lands to deliver its coffee payload. Consulting the shared family calendar, the car requests permission to leave and fetch your daughter from soccer.

A Realtor bot trundles out to warmly greet you and connects you via telepresence to the homeowners, who are still in Florida. Together, you and the robot-embodied owners tour the apartment. The bot offers to arrange and project your home furnishings into each room, remapping furniture locations and adding several retro 1990s table lamps made available for single-command purchasing. The lamps seem strangely familiar, and you realize why—you glanced at them in a digital storefront last week. The robo-advert must have tracked your gaze direction and, ever since, you have seen digital versions of the lamps cropping up everywhere. The telepresence patch that the owners are using is probably free, sponsored by product placement. By the end of the tour, you’ve decided against the apartment, but you buy the lamp, asking for in-home delivery. It will be 3D-printed on-demand, installed and turned on, waiting for your return home.

The robots are coming. But they won’t all be shiny, Apple-designed C-3PO look-alikes with middle-aged Siri brains. I believe the robot invasion will be a hodgepodge affair, with legs, propellers and wheels; robots that run the gamut from embodied android forms to robotic technologies hidden in the woodwork of our homes. Read the rest of this entry »


Google’s founders on the future of health, transport – and robots

9. July 2014

In a rare dual interview, Larry Page and Sergey Brin reveal that a young Google could have sold out to Excite, and explain how computers will enable us all to work less

google founders
Google’s founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page discuss self-driving cars, robots, health and relationships. Photograph: Paul Sakuma/AP

When Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, sat down for a rare frank and open chat with the veteran technology venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, they admitted, among other things, that Google is interested in healthcare but scared of its intense regulation.

Page and Brin displayed their quite different personalities: Brin the maverick and head of Google X – who attempted to kite-board his way to the interview – and Page the business-focused executive now CEO.

The dynamic duo have been together for 16 years, and described their relationship as a bit like an old married couple. “You don’t get agitated about one little thing or another,” said Brin. “We work through it.”

Google almost sold to Excite

Before the company had really started becoming the dominant search engine and the portal to the web, Google almost sold itself to a search engine company called Excite. Read the rest of this entry »


Robot ethics: Morals and the machine

1. June 2012

Date: 01-06-2012
Source: The Economist

As robots grow more autonomous, society needs to develop rules to manage them

IN THE classic science-fiction film “2001”, the ship’s computer, HAL, faces a dilemma. His instructions require him both to fulfil the ship’s mission (investigating an artefact near Jupiter) and to keep the mission’s true purpose secret from the ship’s crew. To resolve the contradiction, he tries to kill the crew.

As robots become more autonomous, the notion of computer-controlled machines facing ethical decisions is moving out of the realm of science fiction and into the real world. Society needs to find ways to ensure that they are better equipped to make moral judgments than HAL was. Read the rest of this entry »