When Donald Trump won the election, many in Silicon Valley were flummoxed: “How could a bigoted billionaire with no government experience and a twitchy Twitter trigger finger win the U.S. presidential election?” they asked themselves.
When education fails to keep pace with technology, the result is inequality. Without the skills to stay useful as innovations arrive, workers suffer—and if enough of them fall behind, society starts to fall apart. That fundamental insight seized reformers in the Industrial Revolution, heralding state-funded universal schooling. Later, automation in factories and offices called forth a surge in college graduates. The combination of education and innovation, spread over decades, led to a remarkable flowering of prosperity.
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The McDonald’s on the corner of Third Avenue and 58th Street in New York City doesn’t look all that different from any of the fast-food chain’s other locations across the country. Inside, however, hungry patrons are welcomed not by a cashier waiting to take their order, but by a “Create Your Taste” kiosk – an automated touch-screen system that allows customers to create their own burgers without interacting with another human being.
It’s not something most people in my life know about. My friends, acquaintances, the parents of kids on my son’s soccer team that I coach — none of them know.
As the fourth industrial revolution, characterized by smart factories and digital manufacturing, makes its presence felt globally, there is an upsurge in handwringing about the notion that technology will eliminate human jobs.
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What will Iowa’s farms look like when the combines and tractors drive themselves?
How will Des Moines’ banking and insurance sectors fare when supercomputers run financial markets?
Where will Iowans live when a self-driving car can take them anywhere with the tap of a smartphone?
These are the kind of questions Thomas Frey ponders.
Skyscrapers in the City of London could soon be built by robots rather than by people, according to the boss of one of the UK’s biggest construction firms. The result would be huge productivity gains as more work could be done by fewer people – but also mass layoffs as traditionally labour-intensive construction projects hire fewer and fewer staff.
Finland was once a renowned technology sector that shed 15,000 jobs with the demise of Nokia’s mobile phone business. It is now struggling to fill thousands of vacancies for software developers, because it lacks people with the right skills.
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They’re creating an average of 760 U.S. jobs each, the study finds. Space X’s Elon Musk, Zenefits’ Laks Srini, Uber’s Garrett Camp, and Palentir’s Peter Thiel are all founders of billion-dollar startups and they’re also all immigrants.
Over the past few years, there has been a sort of entrepreneurial utopia bloom in Silicon Valley. Young kids with big ideas moved to the Bay Area, where zealous venture capitalists were anxious to fund the next Facebook or the next Uber. However, there’s been trouble in paradise recently. Mega-rounds have declined, and companies have started laying off employees.
The robots are coming! They’ll be taking millions – maybe billions – of jobs away with them. Yoram Yaakobi, head of the Microsoft Israel R&D center, says not to worry.
The world is on the brink of a new industrial revolution in which advances in the field of artificial intelligence will obsolete human labor, according to many economists and technologists today. Two Oxford researchers recently analyzed the skills required for more than 700 different occupations to determine how many of them would be susceptible to automation in the near future, and the news was not good: They concluded that machines are likely to take over 47 percent of today’s jobs within a few decades.