Pepper, IBM's robot running its Watson artificial intelligence system, at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit in Abu Dhabi. AI and automation will be a major force in the future of labour. Delores Johnson / The National
Pepper, IBM's robot running its Watson artificial intelligence system, at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit in Abu Dhabi. AI and automation will be a major force in the future of lShow more

Future of industry: Automation is going to disrupt employment



Will robots take over your job? Although technology has long affected the labour force, recent advances in artificial intelligence and robotics are heightening concerns about auto­mation replacing a growing number of occupations, including highly skilled or “know­ledge-based” jobs.

Just a few examples: self-driving technology may eliminate the need for taxi, Uber and lorry drivers; algorithms are playing a growing role in journalism; ­robots are informing consumers as mall greeters, and medicine is adapting robotic surgery and artificial intelligence to detect cancer and heart conditions.

Of 700 occupations in the United States, 47 per cent are at “high risk” from automation, an Oxford University study concluded in 2013.

A McKinsey study released this year offered a similar view, saying “about half” of activities in the world’s workforce “could potentially be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies”.

Still, McKinsey researchers offered a caveat, saying that only about 5 per cent of jobs can be “fully automated.”

Another report, by PwC this month, concluded that about a third of jobs in the US, Germany and Britain could be eliminated by automation by the early 2030s, with the losses concentrated in transportation and storage, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail trade.

But experts warn that such studies may fail to grasp the full extent of the risks to the working population.

“The studies are underestimating the impact of technology – some 80 to 90 per cent of jobs will be eliminated in the next 10 to 15 years,” says Vivek Wadhwa, a tech entrepreneur and fac­ulty member at Carnegie Mellon University in Silicon Valley.

“Artificial intelligence is moving a lot faster than anyone had expected,” says Mr Wadhwa, who is co-author of a forthcoming book on the topic. “Alexa [Amazon’s home hub] and Google Home are getting amazingly intelligent very fast. Microsoft and Google have demonstrated that AI can understand human speech better than ­humans can.”

Mr Wadhwa calls the driverless car a “metaphor” for the future of labour and a sign of a major shift.

Warnings of dire social consequences from automation have also come from the likes of the physicist Stephen Hawking and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Historian Yuval Harari writes in his 2017 book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow that technology will lead to “superfluous people” as “intelligent non-conscious algorithms” improve.

“As algorithms push humans out of the job market,” he writes, “wealth and power might become concentrated in the hands of the tiny elite that owns the all-powerful algorithms, creating unprecedented social and political inequality.”

Mr Harari points to the Oxford study, estimating a high prob­ability of job loss to automation – cashiers (97 per cent), para­legals (94 per cent) and bakers (89 per cent) for example.

Others disagree. Boston University economist and researcher James Bessen dismisses alarmist predictions, contending that advances in technology generally lead to more jobs, even if the nature of work changes.

His research found that the proliferation of ATM machines did not decrease bank tellers’ employment in recent decades, and that automation of textile mills in the 19th century led to an increase in weaving jobs because it created more demand.

“Robots can replace humans in certain tasks but don’t entirely replace humans,” he says.

But he acknowledged that automation “is destroying a lot of low-skill, low wage jobs and the new jobs being created need higher skills.”

Former US president Barack Obama’s council of economic advisers also warned last year that most jobs paying less than $20 an hour “would come under pressure from automation”.

Although the net impact of robots remains unclear, tech leaders and others are already debating how to deal with the potential job displacement.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates said last month that he supports a “robot tax,” an idea floated in Europe, including by a socialist presidential candidate in France.

But Mr Bessen, a former fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center, says taxing robots could be counterproductive.

“You don’t want to be taxing the machines because they enable people to earn higher wages,” he says. “If you tax mach­ines, you will slow the beneficial side of the process.”

Peter Diamandis, chairman of the X Prize Foundation for technical innovation, is among those calling for a “universal ­basic income” to compensate people for job losses.

Offering income guarantees “will be one of many tools empowering self-actualisation at scale,” he said in a blog post, arguing that automation will allow people “to follow their passions, be more creative”.

* Agence France-Presse

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The stats: 2017 Jaguar XJ

Price, base / as tested Dh326,700 / Dh342,700

Engine 3.0L V6

Transmission Eight-speed automatic

Power 340hp @ 6,000pm

Torque 450Nm @ 3,500rpm

Fuel economy, combined 9.1L / 100km

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Ain Dubai in numbers

126: The length in metres of the legs supporting the structure

1 football pitch: The length of each permanent spoke is longer than a professional soccer pitch

16 A380 Airbuses: The equivalent weight of the wheel rim.

9,000 tonnes: The amount of steel used to construct the project.

5 tonnes: The weight of each permanent spoke that is holding the wheel rim in place

192: The amount of cable wires used to create the wheel. They measure a distance of 2,4000km in total, the equivalent of the distance between Dubai and Cairo.

Du Football Champions

The fourth season of du Football Champions was launched at Gitex on Wednesday alongside the Middle East’s first sports-tech scouting platform.“du Talents”, which enables aspiring footballers to upload their profiles and highlights reels and communicate directly with coaches, is designed to extend the reach of the programme, which has already attracted more than 21,500 players in its first three years.

Top 10 most polluted cities
  1. Bhiwadi, India
  2. Ghaziabad, India
  3. Hotan, China
  4. Delhi, India
  5. Jaunpur, India
  6. Faisalabad, Pakistan
  7. Noida, India
  8. Bahawalpur, Pakistan
  9. Peshawar, Pakistan
  10. Bagpat, India
Blue Beetle

Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Stars: Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damian Alcazar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
Rating: 4/5 

COMPANY PROFILE

Date started: 2020
Founders: Khaldoon Bushnaq and Tariq Seksek
Based: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Sector: HealthTech
Number of staff: 100
Funding to date: $15 million

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Date: Sunday, November 25

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Fixtures

Tuesday - 5.15pm: Team Lebanon v Alger Corsaires; 8.30pm: Abu Dhabi Storms v Pharaohs

Wednesday - 5.15pm: Pharaohs v Carthage Eagles; 8.30pm: Alger Corsaires v Abu Dhabi Storms

Thursday - 4.30pm: Team Lebanon v Pharaohs; 7.30pm: Abu Dhabi Storms v Carthage Eagles

Friday - 4.30pm: Pharaohs v Alger Corsaires; 7.30pm: Carthage Eagles v Team Lebanon

Saturday - 4.30pm: Carthage Eagles v Alger Corsaires; 7.30pm: Abu Dhabi Storms v Team Lebanon

How to help

Send “thenational” to the following numbers or call the hotline on: 0502955999
2289 – Dh10
2252 – Dh 50
6025 – Dh20
6027 – Dh 100
6026 – Dh 200

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Lamsa

Founder: Badr Ward

Launched: 2014

Employees: 60

Based: Abu Dhabi

Sector: EdTech

Funding to date: $15 million

THE SPECS – Honda CR-V Touring AWD

Engine: 2.4-litre 4-cylinder

Power: 184hp at 6,400rpm

Torque: 244Nm at 3,900rpm

Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

0-100kmh in 9.4 seconds

Top speed: 202kmh

Fuel consumption: 6.8L/100km

Price: From Dh122,900

Three trading apps to try

Sharad Nair recommends three investment apps for UAE residents:

  • For beginners or people who want to start investing with limited capital, Mr Nair suggests eToro. “The low fees and low minimum balance requirements make the platform more accessible,” he says. “The user interface is straightforward to understand and operate, while its social element may help ease beginners into the idea of investing money by looking to a virtual community.”
  • If you’re an experienced investor, and have $10,000 or more to invest, consider Saxo Bank. “Saxo Bank offers a more comprehensive trading platform with advanced features and insight for more experienced users. It offers a more personalised approach to opening and operating an account on their platform,” he says.
  • Finally, StashAway could work for those who want a hands-off approach to their investing. “It removes one of the biggest challenges for novice traders: picking the securities in their portfolio,” Mr Nair says. “A goal-based approach or view towards investing can help motivate residents who may usually shy away from investment platforms.”
EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Easter Sunday

Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Stars: Jo Koy, Tia Carrere, Brandon Wardell, Lydia Gaston
Rating: 3.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Panipat

Director Ashutosh Gowariker

Produced Ashutosh Gowariker, Rohit Shelatkar, Reliance Entertainment

Cast Arjun Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Kriti Sanon, Mohnish Behl, Padmini Kolhapure, Zeenat Aman

Rating 3 /stars

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi

Director: Kangana Ranaut, Krish Jagarlamudi

Producer: Zee Studios, Kamal Jain

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Ankita Lokhande, Danny Denzongpa, Atul Kulkarni

Rating: 2.5/5

Price, base / as tested From Dh173,775 (base model)
Engine 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo, AWD
Power 249hp at 5,500rpm
Torque 365Nm at 1,300-4,500rpm
Gearbox Nine-speed auto
Fuel economy, combined 7.9L/100km

BLACKBERRY

Director: Matt Johnson

Stars: Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, Matt Johnson

Rating: 4/5

The biog

Favourite films: Casablanca and Lawrence of Arabia

Favourite books: Start with Why by Simon Sinek and Good to be Great by Jim Collins

Favourite dish: Grilled fish

Inspiration: Sheikh Zayed's visionary leadership taught me to embrace new challenges.

THE SWIMMERS

Director: Sally El-Hosaini

Stars: Nathalie Issa, Manal Issa, Ahmed Malek and Ali Suliman 

Rating: 4/5

Coal Black Mornings

Brett Anderson

Little Brown Book Group 


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