Artificial Intelligence And The Future of Jobs

My role here at SAP is IoT Evangelist. It’s my job to go around and speak about how the Internet of Things is changing the way we live, work, and run our businesses. IoT Evangelist is a job title that didn’t exist 5 or 10 years ago – mainly because the Internet of Things wasn’t a “thing” 5 or 10 years ago. Today it is, so here I am.

The fact is, technological change has a tremendous impact on the way we spend our working lives. Many of today’s jobs didn’t exist in the past. Of course, the reverse is true as well: a lot of jobs – mostly tedious/manual labor of some variety, think miners, lift operators, or similar – have gone away.

Robots and much more

Much of the discussion today about the relationship between technology and jobs is a discussion about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI). Robots in manufacturing is the most obvious example. A lot of AI has to do with Big Data analysis and identifying patterns. Thus, AI is used in data security, financial trading, fraud detection, and those recommendations you get from Google, Netflix, and Amazon.

But it’s also used in healthcare, for everything from identifying better subjects for clinical trials to speeding drug discovery to creating personalized treatment plans. It’s used in autonomous vehicles as well – to adjust, for example, to changing road conditions. Some say it’s also coming for professional jobs. Think about successfully appealing parking fines (currently home turf for lawyers), automated contract creation, or automated natural language processing (which someday could be used to write this blog itself – gulp!).

The spinning jenny

Will AI continue to take jobs away? Probably. But how many new jobs will it create? Think back to the spinning jenny – the multi-spindle spinning frame that back in the mid-18th century started to reduce the amount of work required to make cloth.

By the early 19th century, groups of weavers known as the Luddites went around smashing these machines as a form of protest against what we’d now call job displacement. But these machines helped launch the Industrial Revolution.

As a result of the spinning jenny’s increased efficiency, more people could buy more cloth – of higher quality, and at a fraction of the cost. This led to a massive uptick in demand for yarn – which required the creation of distribution networks, and ultimately the need for shipping, an industry that took off in the industrial revolution.

As the spinning jenny came into use, it was continuously improved – eventually enabling a single operator to manage up to 50 spindles of yarn at a time. Other machines appeared on the scene as well. This greater productivity, and the evolution of distribution networks, also meant there was a need for increasingly comprehensive supply chains to feed this productivity boom.

Muscle vs caring

Economists at Deloitte looked at this issue of technological job displacement – diving into UK census data for a 140-year period stretching from 1871 to 2011. What they found, perhaps not surprisingly, is that over the years technology has steadily taken over many of the jobs that require human muscle power.

Agriculture has felt the impact most acutely. With the introduction of seed drills, reapers, harvesters, and tractors, the number of people employed as agricultural laborers has declined by 95% since 1871.

But agriculture is not alone. The jobs of washer women and laundry workers, for example, have gone away as well. Since 1901, the number of people in England and Wales employed for washing clothes has decreased 83% even though the population has increased by 73%.

Many of today’s jobs, on the other hand, have moved to what are known as the caring professions. Muscle-powered jobs such as cleaners, domestics, miners, and laborers have declined, while caring professions such as nurses, teachers, and social workers have increased.

The Deloitte study also points out that as wealth has increased over the years, so have jobs in the professional services sector. According to the census records analyzed, in England and Wales accountants have increased from 9,832 in 1871 to 215,678 in 2015. That’s a 2,094% increase.

And because people have more money in general, they eat out more often – leading to a fourfold increase in pub staff. They can also afford to care more about how they look. This has led to an increase in the ratio of hairdressers/barbers to citizens of 1:1,793 in 1871 to 1:287 today. Similar trends can be seen in other industries such as leisure, entertainment, and sports.

Where are we headed now?

Will broader application of AI and other technologies continue the trend of generating new jobs in unexpected ways? Most assuredly. Already we’re seeing an increased need for jobs such as AI ethicists – another role that didn’t exist 5 or 10 years ago.

The fact of the matter is that technology in general, and AI in particular will contribute enormously to a hugely changing labor landscape. I mentioned at the start of this post that my role in SAP is IoT Evangelist; this is a role I fully expect to no longer exist in 5 years. That’s because by then everything will be connected, so the term “Internet of Things” will be redundant in the same way “Internet-connected phone,” or “interactive website” are redundant today.

The rise of new technologies will create new jobs, both for people working directly with the new technologies and to meet increasing requirements for training, re-training, and educational content development to bring people up to speed.

Will there be enough of those jobs to go around – and will they pay enough to support a middle-class existence for those who hold them? That’s another question – but it’s one that’s stimulating a lot of creative, innovative ideas of its own as people think seriously about where technology is taking us.

Learn more about how SAP is leveraging state-of-the-art machine learning. SAP Leonardo Conversational AI Foundation uses natural language understanding to let you create intuitive enterprise conversational applications. Discover a human way to Run Simple with conversational AI applications and Download the document here.


Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

Baidu and Xiaomi Partner on Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things

Artificial Intelligence and IoT

Artificial Intelligence and IoT

Leveraging the two companies’ capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT), the new partnership aims to make users’ experience more compelling.

Baidu, Inc. and Chinese consumer technology company Xiaomi today announced that the companies have entered into a partnership to establish in-depth cooperation, leveraging the two companies’ strengths in artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) in order to offer an enhanced experience to users in consumer electronics and smart devices.

The partnership, revealed at Xiaomi’s first IoT Developer Conference, marks a significant step in boosting China’s smart manufacturing with advanced technologies including AI, IoT and big data. Connecting AI and IoT will be a driving force to upgrade the manufacturing industry.

“The two companies have joined forces in forming a strong partnership to make users’ experience more compelling, moving on to the next stage in AI development,” Baidu Vice Chairman, Group President and COO, Qi Lu, said.

“Xiaomi has accumulated solid experience in smart hardware, big data and established a smart device ecosystem. It is the world’s leading company in the IoT industry. Baidu has strong technological fundamentals in AI, and with Baidu’s conversational AI system DuerOS, we are using our world-leading AI technologies and information ecosystems to support the development of the IoT industry.”

“Xiaomi has achieved significant breakthroughs in core artificial intelligence technologies and products, and Baidu has deep experience in artificial intelligence technologies, including solid capabilities in voice, images, natural language processing and deep learning. We are delighted to reach a strategic partnership in artificial intelligence with Baidu. This powerful collaboration between the two companies will enable more people to experience the excitement of using AI technologies,” said Lei Jun, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Xiaomi.

Currently, Xiaomi has more than 280 million active users worldwide, and has accumulated a huge amount of data. Xiaomi’s IoT platform has more than 85 million connected devices, making it the world’s largest smart hardware platform. Through the launch of the Mi AI Speaker this year, Xiaomi demonstrated AI capabilities applied to its ever-growing IoT platform, and its commitment to further application of its continuing research into AI.

As leaders in AI and IoT, Baidu and Xiaomi will apply AI technologies in more real-life scenarios and provide better experiences to users through the partnership. The two companies will start in-depth cooperation in voice, computer vision, natural language processing, knowledge graph, deep learning, augmented reality and virtual reality. In the future, the two companies will be able to provide users with better experience as they are able to understand real scenarios, users and their needs better by integrating AI with IoT.

The IoT industry is promising and has enormous potential, and the applications of AI technologies are supporting its development. As a leader in AI, Baidu is using its DuerOS conversational AI system to support the development of IoT industry. In July, Badu launched the DuerOS open platform to make voice-enabled devices that can hear, understand and fulfill users’ needs. DuerOS has since added more than 130 partners and is embedded in products including smart phones, TVs, speakers, smart watches and home appliances. DuerOS has created an open platform offering AI technologies to developers who can create their IoT devices at lower costs and with fewer barriers to entry.

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IoT Business News

Origami-inspired artificial muscles give robots superhuman strength

origami inspired robot gives muscles superhuman strength

Working alongside researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, scientists from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have developed origami-inspired artificial muscles. 

Traditionally, the stronger engineers want a robot to be, the heavier it has to become. This fundamental rule tends to create more problems than it solves in terms of mobility. Now, a new technique is bringing together the familiar concepts of origami and vacuum-packing to build artificial muscles without the downsides.

The team discovered that the simple act of folding materials and pushing them through differing water or air pressures can add an enormous amount of strength to even the softest of robots. It’s estimated that the technique could allow them to lift more than 1,000 times their own weight. The results of the study are due to be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) later this week.

Read more: WeRobotics to use drones to curb mosquito populations

Giving robots superpowers

In order to give soft robots this artificial strength, each ‘muscle’ consists of an internal skeleton. But instead of having a rigid structure, inner layers are made up of flexible material – such as plastic or metal coil – and folded into a specific pattern.

The joint is then surrounded by air or water and sealed inside a vacuum bag – as close to having a skin as a robot is going to get. When the vacuum is applied, the skin contracts. The strength and motion are derived from the tension created. No further input is needed to direct the movement of the artificial muscle. Instead, the application of strength is determined by the shape and make-up of the skeleton.

“We were very surprised by how strong the actuators were. We expected they’d have a higher maximum functional weight than ordinary soft robots, but we didn’t expect a thousand-fold increase. It’s like giving these robots superpowers,” said Daniela Rus, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and one of the senior authors of the paper.

Read more: CSAIL team pairs robots with VR for smart manufacturing

Possible applications of artificial muscles

“Artificial muscle-like actuators are one of the most important grand challenges in all of engineering,” said Rob Wood, co-author of the research paper. “Now that we have created actuators with properties similar to natural muscle, we can imagine building almost any robot for almost any task.”

Because of how scalable the simple muscle system is, there are numerous potential applications for the technology. Miniature surgical devices, transformable architecture and deployable structures for exploring space have all been suggested.

“In addition to their muscle-like properties, these soft actuators are highly scalable. We have built them at sizes ranging from a few millimeters up to a meter, and their performance holds up across the board,” Wood said.

“The possibilities really are limitless. But the very next thing I would like to build with these muscles is an elephant robot with a trunk that can manipulate the world in ways that are as flexible and powerful as you see in real elephants,” Rus said.

Read more: Engineers unveil robot with flexible sensor ‘skin’

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Internet of Business

Cash-strapped UK government finds funds for Artificial Intelligence and tech investments

UK Prime Minister, Theresa May today announced a new £20 million (€22.3 million) fund to help public services use UK expertise in innovative technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI). Investment in the sector is always welcome and who knows, says Jeremy Cowan, it could take Mrs May’s mind off Brexit for a while.

Earlier, the Prime Minister met leading digital entrepreneurs and innovators from across the UK, as she announced a series of measures to support the “continued growth and success” of the country’s tech sector. There was plenty of talk of being world class and of the Government’s “enduring commitment” to this vital industry.

The PM and Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond announced a wide-ranging package of support which includes:

Doubling to 2,000 the number of visas available to the brightest and best talent from around the world, including in digital technology.
An investment of £21 million (€23.4 million) to expand Tech City UK into a nationwide network called Tech Nation, designed to accelerate the growth of the digital tech sector across the country.
A new £20 million fund to help public services take advantage of UK expertise in technologies like Artificial Intelligence.
The launch of a £20 million training programme which will challenge thousands of young people aged  14 to 18 to test their skills against simulated online cyber threats.

Mrs May said: “It is absolutely right that this dynamic sector, which makes such an immense contribution to our economic life and to our society, has the full backing of Government. Technology is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy, and we will continue to invest in the best new innovations and ideas, in the brightest and best talent, and in revolutionary digital infrastructure.

“And as we prepare to leave the European Union, I am clear that Britain will remain open for business,” she added.

Open all hours

The new funding for Tech Nation will see the organisation expand its hub model to more cities around the country, including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Birmingham. Building on the work of existing regional clusters, Tech Nation will support 40,000 entrepreneurs and up to 4,000 start-up companies.

The new ‘GovTech’ challenge fund will encourage UK firms to use technology to solve challenges facing the public sector, while a dedicated new team will act as a front door into Whitehall to connect tech companies to the right parts of Government.

Following months of lobbying by industry bodies and alternative broadband providers frustrated at Openreach‘s slow and patchy broadband roll-out, the government reports that “a new £2 million (€2.23 million) pilot voucher scheme” is also being launched in six areas. This is part of the administration’s pledge to bring “the UK’s fastest and most reliable broadband to homes and businesses across the country”. Local companies will be among those offered vouchers by broadband suppliers to pay for what are described as “gold-standard full-fibre gigabit connections”.

And there are just days left for students to apply for a new apprenticeship and university bursary worth £4,000 (€4,460) a year, being offered by the National Cyber Security […]

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