• 19 APR 17
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    The UK snap election: Theresa May’s anti-human hi-tech policy

    For wide distribution

    The UK’s unemployment statistics stand to get far worse with Theresa May’s high tech industrial policy (below). This policy promotes: (1) a nation-wide rollout of 5G which is necessary for the Internet of Things (IoT); (2) smart grids and smart meters; and (3) artificial intelligence/robotics. Putting aside the issues around 5G and the smart grid, the rise of the age of robots inherent in May’s policy stands to replace the jobs of millions of UK workers with robotics according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report found in part that:

    More than 10 million UK workers are at high risk if being replaced by robots within 15 years as the automation of routine tasks gathers pace in a new machine age…30% of jobs in Britain are potentially under threat from breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. In some sectors half the jobs could go…” Read more here

    Recommended reading is Rise of the Robots : Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future Abstract:

    In a world of self-driving cars and big data, smart algorithms and Siri, we know that artificial intelligence is getting smarter every day. Though all these nifty devices and programs might make our lives easier, they’re also well on their way to making “good” jobs obsolete. A computer winning “Jeopardy” might seem like a trivial, if impressive, feat, but the same technology is making paralegals redundant as it undertakes electronic discovery, and is soon to do the same for radiologists. And that, no doubt, will only be the beginning. In Silicon Valley the phrase “disruptive technology” is tossed around on a casual basis. No one doubts that technology has the power to devastate entire industries and upend various sectors of the job market. But “Rise of the Robots” asks a bigger question: can accelerating technology disrupt our entire economic system to the point where a fundamental restructuring is required? Companies like Facebook and YouTube may only need a handful of employees to achieve enormous valuations, but what will be the fate of those of us not lucky or smart enough to have gotten into the great shift from human labor to computation? The more Pollyannaish, or just simply uninformed, might imagine that this industrial revolution will unfold like the last: even as some jobs are eliminated, more will be created to deal with the new devices of a new era. In “Rise of the Robots,” Martin Ford argues that is absolutely not the case. Increasingly, machines will be able to take care of themselves, and fewer jobs will be necessary. The effects of this transition could be shattering. Unless we begin to radically reassess the fundamentals of how our economy works, we could have both an enormous population of the unemployed-the truck drivers, warehouse workers, cooks, lawyers, doctors, teachers, programmers, and many, many more, whose labors have been rendered superfluous by automated and intelligent machines-and a general economy that, bereft of consumers, implodes under the weight of its own contradictions. We are at an inflection point-do we continue to listen to those who argue that nothing fundamental has changed, and take a bad bet on a miserable future, or do we begin to discuss what we must do to ensure all of us, and not just the few, benefit from the awesome power of artificial intelligence? The time to choose is now. “Rise of the Robots” is a both an exploration of this new technology and a call to arms to address its implications. Written by a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, this is a book that cannot be dismissed as the ranting of a Luddite or an outsider. Ford has seen the future, and he knows that for some of us, the rise of the robots will be very frightening indeed.

    Some time ago I was reading an article on industrial automation and it was mentioned that there was a need to “remove the human factor” in the manufacturing process. Meaning that, human workers sometimes get sick or injured at work, necessitating sick pay and expensive workers compensation insurance, sometimes they strike for better pay and conditions. And then there is all that wasted money spent on non-productive public holidays. And what about those superannuation payments? Much better to do away with all that and just have robots do the work instead which will vastly increase corporate profits.

    Does Theresa May have something wrong here?

    Don

    *****************
    From the Business Insider
    Oscar Williams-Grut
    January 23, 2017

    Robotics, artificial intelligence, and 5G are at the heart of Theresa May’s new industrial strategy

    Excerpt

    LONDON — The government is putting cutting edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), 5G wireless internet, “smart” energy technology, and robotics at the heart of its new post-Brexit industrial strategy.

    Theresa May is set to launch the government’s “Modern Industrial Strategy” on Monday at a regional meeting of the cabinet in the North West.

    The Prime Minister announced in a release on Sunday evening that the strategy would be focused around ten key strategic pillars, the first of which is: “Investing in science, research, and innovation.”

    The government says that a £4.7 billion increase in research & development (R&D) funding announced in last year’s Autumn Statement is central to the new industrial strategy. This investment will go to areas such as AI, “smart” energy technology, robotics, and 5G wireless, the only specific industries name-checked in the release.

    The new policy push appears to be geared around the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” rather than any effort to revive heavy industry such as coal or steel. The “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is a term coined by the World Economic Forum (WEF) last year to describe how a rising tide of automation and robotics will transform the labour market.

    Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark says in the release that the new Modern Industrial Strategy will “improve living standards and drive economic growth across the whole country.”

    Multiple forecasting agencies have predicted that technologies such as robotics and AI are likely to destroy millions of jobs globally in everything from customer service to asset management. WEF estimates that 5 million net jobs could be destroyed by 2020 while Citi and Oxford University estimate that 57% of jobs across the OECD are at risk of automation.
    SNIP

    Read the full article here

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