Robot revolution: rise of ‘thinking’ machines could exacerbate inequality

Global economy will be transformed over next 20 years at risk of growing inequality, say analysts.

By Heather Stewart, the Observer’s economics editor

This article was first published in the British newspaper The Guardian

A “robot revolution” will transform the global economy over the next 20 years, cutting the costs of doing business but exacerbating social inequality, as machines take over everything from caring for the elderly to flipping burgers, according to a new study.

Robots

Robots performing manual jobs, such as hoovering the living room or assembling machine parts, the development of artificial intelligence means computers are increasingly able to “think”, performing analytical tasks once seen as requiring human judgment.

In a 300-page report, revealed exclusively to the Guardian, analysts from investment bank Bank of America Merrill Lynch draw on the latest research to outline the impact of what they regard as a fourth industrial revolution, after steam, mass production and electronics.

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The Business Enterprise and Today’s Society

drjohn11aDr. John Psarouthakis, Executive editor, The Business Thinker magazine, and Founder and managing director, JP Management Center, llc.

 A lecture at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

We have been in the midst of a fundamental and historic shift of how the economies around the world develop.  With the collapse of communism, the centralized and state control model of the economy has also collapsed. Other socialist State models, i.e., Sweden, UK before Margaret Thatcher, have also collapsed.  What we have now, however, imperfect it maybe, is the model of the “Free Market.”

This shift is occurring in parallel with two other sociopolitical expressions:

  1. Smaller government, though the last couple years this seems to have moderated quite a bit
  2. The need, indeed the demand by our society to provide assistance, protection, and distribution of economic benefits  a “fair” way

What we are witnessing is a major shift on “how we can fulfill our expectations of a humanistic society” while we keep the state’s interventions and control power at minimum.

Before I deal with this question (shift) let me digress in to a bit of history .  .  .  .  After all, how can a Greek like myself discuss such matters without referring to HISTORY .

These great shifts of power are not without precedent.  What is new is the rapidity of change that we are witnessing.  When such major shifts of power occurred in the past, they had a great impact in the ways the society functioned.  Examples:

  • The emergence of secular values over religious values and authority during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.  Power centers changed.  Princes of church gave way to princes of land, who,  in turn, gave way to the chiefs of industrial, commercial and financial wealth.
  • Societal institutions and the most firmly established organizations were forced to conform or disappear with the passage of time.These shifts took place not without sacrifice of then well established ways of life.  Now, let’s get back to the question I posed earlier.  Let me repeat it.

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Communication: The Lifeblood of a Successful Company

JP Bio PhotoDr. John Psarouthakis, Excecutive Editor The Business Thinker magazine, www.BusinessThinker.com, and Founder nad Managing Director of JP Managemnt Center, llc (www.jpmcenter.com)

The rapid changes that take place in modern society demand that more people know more about more things. And that they learn it much faster than ever before.

As a result, we should communicate with each other more fre-quently and about a wider variety of things. And the amount, speed, and varieties of communication grow greater every day. As we communicate more, it’s also essential that we communicate better, because more people are affected by and have to know about changes, new ideas, and developments.

That is not to say that people today are necessarily more intelligent or better educated than previous generations. But you and I are exposed to much more information than our parents were. And in order to do our jobs and grow, we have to be able to communicate effectively. That means both taking in and giving out information. That means sharing ideas and information with fellow workers who need it to do their job. That means being accurate when we inform others. And prompt in sharing that information when timeliness is important.

We should make a distinction between information flow and decision making based on that information. That’s because we have to have an environment in which information can be openly and easily shared with those who need it to do their job. We have to be able to communicate information with different kinds of people in various situations. But we do not want to set up conflicting actions.

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