Automation & the job market — will it happen as fast as we think? Or is it already here? A 1978 documentary looks at the impact of the silicon revolution. The iPhone is ten. The coming tech backlash. Putin’s secrets. Wind power.
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Dept of the near future
🤖 Job automation will come but not as fast as some fear, according to McKinsey. The firm suggests half of our work activities might be automatable by 2055, so more conservative than the Frey & Osborne forecast. (Full report & exec summary here.)
📺 The chips are down. Superb 1978 BBC documentary on the semiconductor industry, Silicon Valley’s networked advantage, the rise of IT and the knowledge economy and automation and job losses. Some of today’s issues were hot topics 39 years ago.
📱 Horace Dediu: The iPhone is ten years old. And the most successful product of all time — in fact our first $1,000,000,000,000 product.
💷 Guy Standing on why we need a universal basic income. “The 20th-century income distribution system has broken down irretrievably. Globalisation, technological change and the move to flexible labour markets has channelled more and more income to rentiers and wages have stagnated.”
☀️ Global sales of electric vehicles are likely to exceed 1m in 2017
Dept of automation and jobs
What has really happened to manufacturing? More innovation, higher productivity, greater complexity and a nuanced picture, according to this excellent report in The Economist:
Industrial manufacturing was never as simple as those far from the shop floor imagined it to be. Today it has become more complex still.
The underlying point is that automation goes hand-in-hand with outsourcing, de-verticalization, specialisation, global supply chains and a generous helping of political pork & its ilk to make up today’s manufacturing smorgasbord.
China is investing more heavily in robots than any other nation. Industrial robot deployment has started to take a familiar exponential pace. Fifty years for the first 1m industrial robots with 8 years for the next 1m according to the International Federation of Robotics. Yet when I look at their forecasts, I just wonder whether they have really accommodated the pretty rapid recent breakthroughs in deep learning that have so enhanced machine vision, learning, coordination and control systems in the past 2–3 years. My hunch is that deployment will go faster once it really starts.)
- Why Trump (and other politicians) don’t talk about automation.
- Robot can operate on eyes more accurately than human
- NYC Taxi and Limo drivers lobby for a 50-year ban on autonomous vehicles. (ht @reillybrennan)
- 🔥🚗 The market valuation of autonomous transport-as-a-service could be treble that of all automakers by 2025, says Ark Invest.
Dept of AI
- Extract of a nice Reddit AMA by Joanna Bryson, a Bath University professor, on AI, ethics and personhood questions.
- How AI picks up prejudice (from its human curators).
- Using machine vision to detect medical conditions from selfies
- Speech analysis software is helping employers hire new candidates, judge suitability for promotion
- How algorithms helped design the Elbphilharmonie. “It would be insane to do this by hand.”
- How chips are evolving to accommodate deep learning
Exponential Salon: Robots, Up Close and Personal
🌟 Our first event of the year is a dinner salon on the living and loving with robots.
Our interlocutor is Dr Kate Devlin, from the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London, to explore the implications of human-robot relationships as we develop closer connections with AI.
What does getting personal and intimate with robots mean for our physical and emotional wellbeing? Why and how does robot intimacy offer new opportunities for self-expression and freedom, or not?
The event will be participatory and include dinner and drinks and is kindly supported by BGF Ventures.
Short morsels to appear smart at dinner parties
🇷🇺 The secret source of Putin’s evil. (Exceptional read)
👟 Lucy Rycroft-Smith: I wore men’s clothes for a month — and it changed my life
💉 Ambrosia: a startup allows you to buy young people’s blood (in the name of longevity.)
Digital ad fraud is out-of-control and bigger than anyone thought
Lemonade, a tech-powered insurance agency, resolved and settled a claim for a stolen goose-down parka in 3 seconds.
Velodyne’s LIDAR runs to $50. These things cost $80,000 about 8 years ago.
🍃 Wind power produced more electricity than coal in the UK last year
I’m helping my buddy John Battelle with his new Shift Forum, a private conference bringing together incumbents, startups, investors and policy leaders. John’s pulling together a really good confab to discuss many of the issues covered in Exponential View and how they may play out in business, government and policy. The AI panel, with Shivon Zillis, Vivek Wadhwa and Francesca Rossi looks quite fun :)
The event is invite-only. John and I agreed that EV readers can skip the queue and get a $1000 discount by clicking here. Make sure to use the code Forum17. (The event is in February 6–8.)
We are finally on Instagram. The occasional interesting graphic.
Come and find us. ‘Heart’ something you like.
I’ll leave you with this amusing cat video about job-stealing robots.
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