Comments
Robots Rising: 7 Real-Life Roles
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
7/7/2014 | 11:24:33 AM
Ro-boat
A robotic boat with an Android phone for a brain. I love the practicality of that.
Mark Montgomery
100%
0%
Mark Montgomery,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 1:35:13 PM
Regarding automation and jobs...
Unfortunately, robots may put some of us out of work. McAfee says the trend here is clear. "We've been shedding manufacturing jobs for about 35 years in America, while manufacturing output and value added have been going up," he said. "I don't know how you can make the case that these kinds of technologies are creating as many jobs as they're destroying."
 
I don't normally find myself defending job displacement, but in recent years and months a great deal of confusion and herding has been taking place, much of which isn't based on evidence, so have recently entered the fray.
 
The automation trend started much earlier than 35 years ago, of course, during which time enormous numbers of jobs were created by customers of the automation. While it's certainly true that perhaps as many as a billion or more were displaced, most from subsistence farms in Asia, the net job creation was massive during entire time. Certainly no disagreement from me that U.S. main street and middle class were the net loser in this trend, which was based on official policy and driven too much by global corporations--it was the U.S. reaction to the trend that was the most tragic. 
 
Rather than pursue a competitive trajectory similar to post unification of Germany in the 1990s, which included structural retraining and state-of-the-art industrial tools, the U.S. employed financial engineering that created two major bubbles and crashes, the latter of which was the financial crisis which can be prevented with the best governance and analytics tools today (ironically requires automation). The same is true with 9/11, leading to two wars and additional trillions lost--hundreds of thousands of lives, and most human-caused corporate events, from whale trades to fraud, record fines, most Black Swans, etc. So if we are to look at job displacement from automated methods and related technology, which is I think appropriate and wise, we should also look at the cost of not using state-of-the-art automated systems. As one of the leading experts on human caused crises, please trust me that nothing during the past two decades has been more costly in terms of economic damage or job loss than refusing to employ automated preventative systems in large organizations.
 
In the IT industry for example, we offer automated adaptive data management which was recently estimated to save over $50 million per year in hard integration costs moving forward--forever (in one org), and this doesn't even contemplate the toxic costs of silos and crises that occurs when systems are not compatible, which are by far the larger costs (solution benefits). That represents around 100,000 jobs if translated to SME lending in just this one bank, much more if we include other more costly use cases. Hard integration costs alone are estimated to be $500bn annually globally, but the related costs in poor governance, silos, and lack of unified systems is much higher, usually found at or near the core of most modern crises, including the financial crisis which cost tens of millions of jobs globally.
 
The good news is that leadership in organizations are finally embracing innovation towards positive use, including job creation and business growth, rather than just downsizing and displacement. What is abundantly clear is that protectionism doesn't work in a hyper competitive global economy--not for long, whether a company or a nation. Like companies, those countries that continue to reject productivity and competitiveness (especially those that are the most costly), they will lose the economic battle to those who embrace same, like China which is now I believe the largest net buyer of robotics in response to a workforce that has become increasingly uncompetitive. China is clearly attempting to avoid the mistakes the U.S. and much of the EU have made in attempting to move up the IC scale rapidly rather than experience the boom bust cycle of the West. While it remains to be seen whether they will succeed, China is a legitimate threat to the "Northern Atlantic Malaise", increasingly including advanced automation. 
 
Fortunately for the U.S., we are seeing an impressive rebound in manufacturing, but we should note that even with new factories and automation--including impressive numbers and types of new good paying jobs in automated factories, we are seeing a major shift in the U.S. Future displacement is occurring that cannot be fully appreciated yet.  New companies and factories are setting up shop in more competitive environments, just as they always have and will continue to do as long as we have even a hybrid capitalist system. That is to say that it makes economic sense for a large factory in South Carolina that competes globally, but not in the much higher cost centers. 
 
This should be viewed as a wake up call in the U.S. to become more competitive. Unfortunately, we've been on a trajectory of borrow and spend, calling it investment, when we needed to be aggressively retooling for the future. Not in liberal arts colleges for the formerly wealthy, or necessarily even in universities, but low cost high impact vocational training using all tools available. The U.S. is in an economic war. It is well beyond the time for the culture to react accordingly, and stop relying on borrowing from the future to subsidize denial.

I recently wrote a related article that was featured over at Wired that may be of interest:

Fear of Artificial Intelligence vs. the Ethics and Art of Creative Destruction
 
Mark Montgomery
Founder & CEO
Thomas Claburn
50%
50%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
7/7/2014 | 2:09:07 PM
Re: Regarding automation and jobs...
Thanks for the comments, Mark. I don't think we have much of an option. Automation is happening. What I worry about is there's very little evidence that we can adapt our economic system to deal with a world where more and more people just don't have anything to offer that machines can't provide for less.
Mark Montgomery
50%
50%
Mark Montgomery,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 2:22:04 PM
Re: Regarding automation and jobs...
Thomas,

Almost all humans are well prepared biologically for fear, but very few have the essentials to be the next Ford. How many could imagine cars and trucks in 1850? Boeing and Airbus? Microsoft?

Hubris is common in scientific communities where good intentions cause all kinds of problems. I'm as guilty as the next person, just perhaps have studied the phenom a bit more than most. I can't say with confidence what the (precise) result will be in displacing say half of the $500 bn SI industry, but I can say with confidence that the jobs will be far more than offset by customers who will be freed from the many toxic consequences of not having unified IT systems. -- MM
ChrisMurphy
50%
50%
ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
7/7/2014 | 3:04:55 PM
Re: Regarding automation and jobs...
The macroeconomic consequences are real and daunting. From a micro -- your company -- standpoint, what strikes me is how very fast the opportunity is going from "someday soon" to "pretty much now." I just recently watched a 15 year old maneuver a GPS-assisted drone copter with extraordinary precision. CIOs -- and policymakers -- need to take the commercial capabilities of these seriously now. 
Shane M. O'Neill
50%
50%
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
7/7/2014 | 1:55:26 PM
Some jobs should be replaced
Fears about robots taking our jobs are legitimate, but this slideshow got me thinking that there are jobs we shouldn't be doing, either because they're too menial or too dangerous. The iRobot 710 Kobra is a good example of the latter. It's designed for bomb disposal, explosives detection, and dealing with hazardous material, all stuff that humans should steer clear of if a robot can do the job.
CharlesB21101
50%
50%
CharlesB21101,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2014 | 4:12:59 PM
Automated distribution of goods
Amazon is a Leap year ahead of other retailers, if robots are becoming a key part of the distribution and delivery chain. At some point, goods may move through so many automated delivery centers and subcenters that Amazon will hire delivery boys on bikes for the last mile -- to keep a minor human element in the customer relationship.
PedroGonzales
50%
50%
PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
7/10/2014 | 4:24:49 PM
Re: Automated distribution of goods
Robots play an important part in our society. I see these examples as ways where robots are not destroying, but enhanching the jobs done by humans.  I saw a video of a car manufacturing plant in germany completelly run by robots.  I'm sure unions in the United States won't be happy about that.
mak63
50%
50%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
7/8/2014 | 12:34:20 AM
The Double telepresence
"The Double telepresence robot offers a more modest example of the genre: It's more or less an iPad on a remote controlled Segway. Sometimes it's enough just to show your face in the office"

Here is a little more about the Double:

I'm sure we can find more uses for it, besides showing our face in the office. How about going to the store for a beer!

In any case, the robots are here to stay. Might as well get use to it.
freespiritny25
50%
50%
freespiritny25,
User Rank: Moderator
8/1/2014 | 4:56:18 PM
Robots Rising: 7 Real-Life Roles
The deliverator will save a lot of nurses some time, love the drones, the auto auto makes me a little nervous. I don't even care for cruise control- hahaha!


The Business of Going Digital
The Business of Going Digital
Digital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest September 18, 2014
Enterprise social network success starts and ends with integration. Here's how to finally make collaboration click.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
The weekly wrap-up of the top stories from InformationWeek.com this week.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.