This article is published in collaboration with Futurism.
AI is beginning to phase out traditional jobs. Image: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
According to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute, nearly half of all the work we do will be able to be automated by the year 2055. However, a variety of factors, including politics and public sentiment toward the technology, could push that back by as many as 20 years. An author of the report, Michael Chui, stressed that this doesn’t mean we will be inundated with mass unemployment over the next decades. “What we ought to be doing is trying to solve the problem of ‘mass redeployment,’” Chui tells Public Radio International (PRI). “How can we continue to have people working alongside the machines as we go forward?”
The report suggests that the move toward automation will also bring with it a global boost in productivity: “Based on our scenario modeling, we estimate automation could raise productivity growth globally by 0.8 to 1.4 percent annually.” Removing the capacity for human error and dips in speed due to illness, fatigue, or general malaise can help boost productivity in any task capable of being automated.
Many of the discussions on automation surround how it will impact manual labor. However, while it’s easy to see how robotics can take over precise and repetitive manufacturing tasks, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is allowing for more cognition-based tasks to be taken over by computers as well. Chui stated, “In about 60 percent of occupations, over 30 percent of the things that people do could be automated — either using robots or artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, all of these technologies that we’re hearing more and more about.”
What about workers?
Chui believes that mass redeployment is how the workforce will endure the job loss. The report cites the shift from agriculture to industry as another point in history during which mass redeployment occurred. For example, over the course of the 20th century and into today, the United States has moved from having 40 percent of the workforce in agriculture to only less than two percent. “We don’t have 30 percent unemployment because, in fact, we found new things for people to do in the economy,” Chui says. “So we have … historically been able to do that.”
However, the switch from automation isn’t as clear-cut as one from agriculture to industry. The industrial revolution created new roles for masses of people along with machines having a bigger part to play in farming. Automation may create some new roles for some highly skilled workers, but others, especially low-skill workers, will be left without any inherent positions. This is why some experts are heralding universal basic income (UBI) as the only way to ensure the livelihoods of displaced workers.
During his administration, President Obama saw that automation and UBI would begin to enter into our political debates. We are in the infancy of these ideas, but serious conversations need to start if we want to be ready to preemptively tackle these issues before we’re forced to by circumstance.
DENVER (AP) — Anheuser-Busch says it has completed the world’s first commercial shipment by self-driving truck, sending a beer-filled tractor-trailer on a journey of more than 120 miles through Colorado.
The company says it teamed with self-driving truck maker, Otto, and the state of Colorado for the feat. The trailer, loaded with Budweiser beer, began the self-driving trip at a weigh station in Fort Collins, Colorado, and ran along Interstate 25 through Denver before wrapping up in Colorado Springs. (more…)
Walmart Is Being Sued for Allegedly Bribing the Mexican Government
To open new stores.
Walmart must face a class-action lawsuit accusing the world’s largest retailer of defrauding shareholders by concealing suspected bribery to help it expand faster in Mexico, a U.S. judge said.
In a decision on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey in Fayetteville, Arkansas rejected Walmart’s contention that a Michigan pension fund had no standing to lead the case because it had not suffered losses on the retailer’s stock.
Do-it-yourself home improvement? More like make it yourself. Lowe’s new 3D-printing stations at a New York City store mark the chain’s bid to unlock the profit potential of products that reflect a shopper’s distinct imprint and tastes.
Dubbed Bespoke Designs, the 3D-scanning and printing service — with products designed exclusively for Lowe’sLOW -3.18%by 3DShook, and in partnership with Voodoo Manufacturing — now being piloted in the Lowe’s store in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood enables shoppers to design and produce customized products, from lamps to doorknobs, and hard-to-find replacement parts to “make your home uniquely yours,” the retailer says. (more…)
There is a serious ongoing political debate over the tax rates paid by millionaires. Some say the tax rates paid by wealthy Americans are not progressive enough while others argue that the top rate should be lowered while overhauling the tax code. Neither side of this debate, however, has made any attempt to provide a basic profile of who these taxpayers are. How old are they? What is their marital status? What is their education level? What are their sources of income? In other words, put a demographic face on millionaire taxpayers.According to the latest data from the IRS for 2010, there were roughly 268,000 tax returns reporting more than $1 million in adjusted gross income (AGI), a slight increase above 2009 levels. As Chart 1 indicates, however, 2009 had the fewest number of millionaire returns since 2004. Indeed, there were 40 percent fewer millionaire tax returns filed in 2009 than were filed in 2007.
When we look beyond these sterile financial statistics we learn that these taxpayers are typically married (and most of them are two-earner couples), they are highly educated, many are business owners, and nearly half are over the age of 55.
And while the political discourse frequently treats millionaires as monolithic, the data indicates that millionaire status appears to be fleeting or episodic. People rarely report million-dollar incomes consistently year after year because many of them become “millionaires” as the result of a one-time event such as the sale of a business or stock. Thus, it is likely that the taxpayers who reported $1 million or more in income in 2009 are not the same people who filed million-dollar returns in previous years.
In a health report card published in September, titled “F as in Fat,” the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health1 predict that half of all American adults will be obese by 2030.
The report also predicts obesity-related illness will raise national health care costs by $48 billion annually over the next two decades by adding another 7.9 million new cases of diabetes, 5 million cases of chronic heart disease and stroke, and 400,000 cancer cases – all courtesy of Americans’ ever-expanding waistlines.
That prediction is only slightly more dire than the American Journal of Preventive Medicine‘s projection that 42 percent of all adults will be obese by then.2 According to the authors,
“If obesity were to remain at 2010 levels, the combined savings in medical expenditures over the next two decades would be $549.5 billion.”
That’s no chump change, especially in light of the current struggles to keep Medicaid going, and the fact that medical expenses not covered by health insurance is one of the top reasons for personal bankruptcy in the US. Most families are already only one bad diagnosis away from a financial catastrophe and many are at risk of abject ruin should their health fail.
Mining companies, slammed by tumbling commodities prices, have in recent days vowed not to cut production, saying the stronger dollar is cushioning the blow of falling markets.
Companies ranging from Australian miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto to smaller firms like South Africa’s Lonmin PLC are benefiting from the stronger greenback because they receive dollars for the gold, copper and iron ore they dig up, but pay for labor and many other costs using local currencies. When the dollar rallies, revenue generated by metals sales stretch further in covering expenses.
The dollar’s rise is reverberating across the global economy, dividing the corporate world into winners and losers along geographic lines and reshaping the next phase of commodities prices. The greenback rose against virtually all currencies in 2014 and is off to a roaring start this year, as some central banks around the world, reaching for new ways to boost sluggish economic growth, take steps to devalue their currencies.
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