Glimpse of New Future – Economy Growth powered by Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
17 Aug 2017 | Thought Leadership & Business Insight articles brought by Amazrock
This may be old news already as we speak. Momentum is gaining for the advancement and use of “Artificial Intelligence (AI) + Robotics” as the growth lever to propel economic growth. With the recent convergence of machine learning and IoT technologies, economies are fast changing lanes with AI having the promising potential to overcome the physical limitations of capital and labor. It offers the real possibility of productivity acceleration breakthrough and transformation on how growth value is created differently in the future.
AI projected to add USD15.7 Trillion to the World Economy by 2030
According to PWC’s research, it is estimated that AI will contribute as much as US$15.7 trillion to the world economy by 2030. That is more than the current combined output of China and India.
As a result of this AI impact, Global GDP (at $74 trillion as of 2015) will be 14% higher in 2030.
What is this changing future ?
According to Tom Mitchell, a professor in the machine learning department at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, he shared how transformation technology has been developing fast. Just 10 years ago, computers are poor at recognizing images and items with 50 percent accuracy. Today that accuracy has jumped to 95 percent, and now can use a higher intelligence. This transformation technology is different and they are more capable than merely hearing and seeing. In fact, the AI-powered machines and applications can make decisions and take actions that involves a chain of logical reasoning.
“Some jobs are being eliminated, many routine clerical jobs, toll booth operators,” he said. “There are other jobs, like doctor jobs, where AI is not replacing them but making them better by augmenting their capabilities. There’s another force at work where AI and information technology more broadly are creating new kind of business models, like Uber.” (Quote by Tom Mitchel)
What are the risks brought by AI and robotics technology ?
AI also involves risk. Regulators are aware and becoming concerned of these rapidly developing systems that they have little oversight of. And there are lingering suspicions about privacy erosion and that the ultimate effect of AI could do more harm than good for people’s jobs and livelihoods.
Some of the biggest challenges in the next 15 years will be creating safe and reliable hardware for autonomous cars and health care robots; gaining public trust for AI systems, especially in low-resource communities; and overcoming fears that the technology will marginalize humans in the workplace.
Issues of liability and accountability also arise with questions such as:
- Who is responsible when a self-driven car crashes or an intelligent medical device fails?
- How can we prevent AI applications from being used for racial discrimination or financial cheating?
Perhaps we may not need to glance far to get a glimpse of the challenges and opportunities brought about by AI and robotics. Let’s take a look at corporate giant Amazon.
Examining for insight – Amazon in focus
Amazon recently expanded its Prime Now service to Singapore in August 2017, but did not have enough delivery resources to fulfill the flood of orders within the promised service level of 2 hours.
In the US, Amazon needs armies of people too, to pick and pack orders in warehouses. Its Jobs Day held at a dozen locations, was intended to help fill 50,000 of those positions (80% are full time). Amazon’s warehouse jobs, which typically pay US$12-15 an hour, have a reputation as being physically demanding and repetitive with high rates of burnout.
Amazon was the fastest US company in history to employ 300,000 people globally, crossing the threshold in 2016 (according to Progressive Policy Institute, a think-tank). Its current employee headcount stands at 382,000 in fact. The figures do not include the thousand of seasonal workers who join the company to help it with the crush of holiday shopping.
Facebook, in contrast employed just under 21,000 people as of June 2017. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, employed about 76,000.
While Amazon’s headcount growth and employment opportunities are remarkable, there are questions about how long Amazon’s warehouse jobs will exists as robots become more capable at doing the work that now requires humans.
Many researchers and start-ups are working on robots that have the dexterity to pick orders automatically. Amazon sponsors a competition to encourage engineers to build more advanced warehouse robots supported by AI. When these technologies are perfected, the employment picture inside Amazon’s warehouses could look very different. That day could be a decade or more away though.
The physical labor employment picture may not look rosy for the future. However, we do get a glimpse of how the human labor can transform and adapt themselves to this distant and yet near future of working alongside with our robotic companions and smart AI applications.
Amazon continues to capitalise on the digital disruption to succeed with its digital retail business model and is replacing (or destroying – shoppers are turning more to convenient Prime online shopping & delivery) the traditional retail business model. Even at this stage, we are still not at the technology junction where the shopping and shipment delivery processing can be fully automated without human input and supervision. Meanwhile, Amazon model will continue to live in the physical world and require human labour for the foreseeable future.
Thoughts – direction for our AI embedded future
Pray that the market, central authorities and the technology creators will work together to ensure the new world order of AI and robotics will serve humanity as a whole and not a segment of the privileged. We still have the time and may human civilisation be guided by perfect wisdom from above.
You may be interested in this video about how AI-powered automation has evolved and the new revolution it brings :
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