Ireland: Taoiseach Warns Of Automation Threat
December 31, 2018, 02:53 PM
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It’s unusual to hear a national leader pointing out the approaching danger to workers and the economy posed by smart machines — in fact, I can’t recall another example. Perhaps top politicians of smaller countries feel more free because unusual remarks won’t upset the international order.

If only President Trump would do likewise — he could say, correctly, that automation makes immigration obsolete because machines will soon be doing a lot of the work. But he hasn’t.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar must have heard some of the rather dire predictions from technology experts in recent years. Oxford researchers forecast in 2013 that nearly half of American jobs were vulnerable to machine or software replacement within 20 years. Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi believes that in 30 years humans will become largely obsolete, and world joblessness will reach 50 percent. The Gartner tech advising company believes that one-third of jobs will be done by machines by 2025. The consultancy firm PwC published a report last year that forecast robots could take 38 percent of US jobs by 2030. In November 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute reported that automation “could displace up to 800 million workers — 30 percent of the global workforce — by 2030.” Forrester Research estimates that robots and artificial intelligence could eliminate nearly 25 million jobs in the United States over the next decade, but it should create nearly 15 million positions, resulting in a loss of 10 million US jobs.

It’s refreshing to hear from a leader who is thinking further into the future and sharing those thoughts with the people.

Varadkar warns that robots and artificial intelligence pose risk to people’s jobs, The Journal, December 28, 2018

The Taoiseach has said many professions could be affected, meaning people will need to upskill and retrain.

LEO VARADKAR HAS warned that robots and artificial intelligence (AI) pose a risk to people’s jobs.

When asked about how this could impact workers in Ireland, the Taoiseach said most jobs are “vulnerable to digitalisation or automatisation”, adding: “The important thing now is that we think ahead.

“Almost anyone in employment at all levels could potentially lose their jobs as a result of AI, robotics or automation.

“Even some jobs done by doctors – looking at slides could well be done by machines much more accurately using machine-learning and AI so it’s jobs at absolutely all levels that can be affected by changes in technology.”

Varadkar then joked: “I’m not sure if we’ll have artificial intelligence to replace TDs and Senators or robot ministers, who knows. You get accused of being robotic sometimes.”

The Taoiseach noted that about 16% of men in the country drive for a living – including as taxi drivers, bus drivers, train drivers and delivery drivers.

He said if this type of work is automated “that would change that whole world of going to work”. (Continues)

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