Is technology creating or killing jobs?

Is technology creating or killing jobs?
Justine Cassell pictured at a panel on ‘big data’ at the Top CEO Conference at KAEC on Tuesday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah).
Updated 12 April 2017

Is technology creating or killing jobs?

Is technology creating or killing jobs?

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY: Is technology taking over our jobs? It is a question raised by many as robots, artificial intelligence and the potential of self-driving cars threatens to take over many roles traditionally performed by humans.
According to a 2013 study by researchers at the University of Oxford, about 47 percent of all US jobs are at risk of computerization — including drivers and bank workers.
But technologist Justine Cassell said that “artificial intelligence isn’t the demon”. Instead of fearing for our jobs, we need to build a fruitful partnership with machines, because they cannot replace us.
“There’s a fundamental need for artificial intelligence, robotics and other technologies that are interdependent with people in an ecosystem where tools do what they do best and humans do what they do best,” Cassell, associate dean of technology strategy and impact at the School of Computer Science at the US-based Carnegie Mellon University. “I think that’s the way forward.”
She was speaking to Arab News on Tuesday on the sidelines of her address on “big data” at the Top CEO Conference at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).
Countries are blaming technology and immigration for job loss. But Cassell argues that the downturn in the economy happened before the digitization of jobs. She said this is a way of putting the blame elsewhere rather than looking at one’s own society. “The impact is more economic than technical,” she said.
The workforce model is shifting from the traditional route of getting a degree and having a job at a single employer. Now it is more about embracing new technologies. Because of that, the notion of re-skilling is extremely important, Cassell said. “The piece of advice that I would give to every CEO is to invest in re-skiLling your workforce. I would the same advice for governments,” she added.
Seeing technology as a disrupting force in the job market comes from the lack of understanding it. Technophobes do not know how these technologies are going to make decisions or what these decisions are based on, Cassell noted.
“Once we are surer that the decisions that these technologies make are based on the same values that we have then we’ll be happier and more content to let them on our roads,” she continued, referring to self-driven cars as an example of a new technology.

Technology and our children

Is technology taking over our children’s lives?

In a society like Saudi Arabia, where young children spend hours on their tablets, it is inevitable to question the impact. Cassell’s question to parents is “what are your children doing on their iPads?” If they are communicating with other young children then they are bringing their social skills into a new world, Cassell said.
Research shows that most of the communication people have online is with people they also know offline, which Cassell said was the case before the Internet, with children speaking with their friends after school over the phone.
Encouraging children to play video games in teams rather than alone is one way to customize gaming to benefit social skills. Cassell believes that spending time online comes as a response to the child’s “offline” life.
“The technology is there to fill a void that already existed. So my question is, are parents taking their children to parks or are they spending their time texting? Are they giving opportunities to spend time outside and giving them a life (that) competes with the iPads? If not, then they only have themselves to blame if their children are spending long hours playing video games.”

An ideal school environment should mix between engaging children in offline activities and using technology to connect children across countries, said Bashar Jabban, president of the Italian Business Group in Jeddah.
 
“I believe technology won’t have that disadvantage that we thought it could have in terms of taking away children’s ability to socialize in person. I don’t see a disadvantage in this context,” he told Arab News.
 
Technology can be used to connect children worldwide in a classroom environment. Those with similar traits and characters can communicate online with their peers in other schools in different countries.
 
The diversity of the children can be managed via technology by having clusters of like-minded children studying together long-distance.
 
Jabban said this would avoid labeling children as bad or hyperactive students, as they will be able to build their capabilities within their natural traits.
 
“So they’re not obliged to be compared with other children in the same class, and to have them all judged the same way,” he said. “We have different ways of learning. Not all children are born the same.”
 
He added that schools can arrange trips for children to meet in real life the friends they interact with online.
 
In the job market, Jabban said introducing technology and robotics could cause job losses in the early stages, but would provide a better service if used in a shopping context, for example, as a better service means a faster shopping experience and a boost in consumption.
 
“There will be losses of jobs that aren’t very interesting, but that will be compensated in the near future. They won’t be real losses. It will be a transformation in the job market.”
 
“That said, the balance between positive and negative effects of technology on our society will be positive and this will contribute to a sustainable world.”

 


G7 should invest $10tr to stoke economic recovery

G7 should invest $10tr to stoke economic recovery
Updated 11 May 2021

G7 should invest $10tr to stoke economic recovery

G7 should invest $10tr to stoke economic recovery
  • Summit will be chaired by Britain’s Johnson in Cornwall, southern England, on June 11-13

LONDON: G7 countries should invest $10 trillion to stoke an investment-driven recovery that puts COVID-19 vaccines in arms and triggers a sweeping energy transformation to slow climate change, according to a report requested by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

US President Joe Biden is expected to join other Group of Seven leaders at a G7 summit chaired by Britain’s Johnson in Cornwall, southern England, on June 11-13.

Founded in 1975 as a forum for the West’s richest nations to discuss crises such as the OPEC oil embargo, the G7 will discuss what it perceives as the biggest threats: China, Russia, climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

Nicholas Stern, professor of economics at the London School of Economics, said in a report for Johnson that the G7 was a crucial opportunity for the West’s richest economies to make a real change to the global economy.

“The transition to a zero-emissions and climate-resilient world provides the greatest economic, business and commercial opportunity of our time,” Stern said in the report.

“At the heart of the proposed vision for the economic response to the pandemic is a coordinated global program of investment for recovery, reconstruction and transformation that can boost all forms of capital — physical, human, natural and social,” Stern said.

G7 countries, he said, should set a collective goal to raise annual investment by 2 percent of GDP above pre-pandemic levels for this decade and beyond and improve the quality of investment — equal to about $1 trillion per year in additional investment over the next decade.

The G7 leaders should ensure a timely global roll-out of vaccines by immediately closing the $20 billion funding cap of COVAX, a global program to provide vaccines mainly for poor countries.

After Johnson called for countries to do more than produce “hot air” rhetoric on climate, the report said the G7 should come up with credible ways to meet Biden’s climate goals.

The G7 should commit to eliminating all fossil-fuel subsidies no later than 2025, lead a sweeping energy transition, end overseas support for fossil-fuel investments and consider a minimum corporate profit tax of 21 percent.


Copper hits record high on higher demand hopes

Copper hits record high on higher demand hopes
Updated 11 May 2021

Copper hits record high on higher demand hopes

Copper hits record high on higher demand hopes
  • Bullish investors bet that demand for copper will increase further as the world economy recovers from COVID-19 slumps and as investments into green energy sectors ramp up

HANOI: Copper prices touched record highs in both London and Shanghai markets on Monday on hopes for improved demand amid tightening supply.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose to an all-time high of $10,747.50 a ton earlier in the session before easing to $10,694 a ton, still up 2.7 percent.

The most-traded June copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed up 4.8 percent to 77,720 yuan ($12,094.62) a ton, after scaling a peak of 78,270 yuan earlier. Sentiment has been boosted following record high LME prices since 2011 hit on Friday.

Bullish investors bet that demand for copper will increase further as the world economy recovers from COVID-19 slumps and as investments into green energy sectors ramp up, while prices were also supported by tight supply in the concentrate market.

“Prices continue to rise as the world is talking about the global recovery and the need for metals,” said Malcolm Freeman, a director at UK broker Kingdom Futures, adding that the LME contract “looks set to attempt $11,000 on a technical basis.”

However, he noted that industrial players are not buying at this price level.

ShFE aluminum surpassed 20,000 yuan a ton, rising as much as 3.8 percent to 20,445 yuan a ton, its highest since January 2010, while ShFE zinc hit its highest since March 2008 of 23,065 yuan a ton. LME aluminum rose 2 percent to $2,590.50 a ton and zinc advanced 1 percent to $3,045 a ton.

A group of 15 key copper smelters in China have agreed to cut their purchases of raw material copper concentrate in 2021 by 8.8 percent year-on-year, state-backed research house Antaike said.


Egypt in talks with international firms to invest in data centers, says minister

Egypt is in talks with international companies to boost investment in data centers and information technology. (Shutterstock/Illustrative)
Egypt is in talks with international companies to boost investment in data centers and information technology. (Shutterstock/Illustrative)
Updated 10 May 2021

Egypt in talks with international firms to invest in data centers, says minister

Egypt is in talks with international companies to boost investment in data centers and information technology. (Shutterstock/Illustrative)
  • The aim is to take advantage of the geographical location of Egypt and the passage of a large number of international data cables between Asia and Europe

RIYADH: Egypt is in talks with international companies to boost investment in data centers and information technology, the country's communications minister revealed.

The aim is to take advantage of the geographical location of Egypt and the passage of a large number of international data cables between Asia and Europe, reaching North America, said Minister of Communications and Information Technology,Amr Talaat.

It is part of a wider push to build an integrated digital society, Al Arabiya reported.

That is why the budget for the information technology sector and the ministry’s budget has been growing over the last two years and will continue to grow over the next three years, he added.

“We have started building the Egypt digital platform that provides more than 70 digitized government services at the present time, and we look forward to increasing it to 170 services by the end of this year, and then increasing to include all government services within two years until 2023,” said the minister.


Egyptian prime minister discusses industry localization with US firm Bechtel

According to a statement issued by the Egyptian government, Madbouly said that the Bechtel delegation’s visit to Egypt was part of a strategy to enhance Egyptian-American cooperation. (AFP/File Photo)
According to a statement issued by the Egyptian government, Madbouly said that the Bechtel delegation’s visit to Egypt was part of a strategy to enhance Egyptian-American cooperation. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 10 May 2021

Egyptian prime minister discusses industry localization with US firm Bechtel

According to a statement issued by the Egyptian government, Madbouly said that the Bechtel delegation’s visit to Egypt was part of a strategy to enhance Egyptian-American cooperation. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Mostafa Madbouly said the country was currently localizing industrial production with the aim of rendering it more sustainable

CAIRO: Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly held discussions with US construction firm Bechtel on ways to increase the use of local products and components in the development of projects in Egypt.

According to a statement issued by the Egyptian government, Madbouly said that the Bechtel delegation’s visit to Egypt was part of a strategy to enhance Egyptian-American cooperation across a number of sectors.

The prime minister said there were several projects in Egypt being developed in cooperation with American companies, like the petrochemical complex in the Ain Sokhna area. He added that he is following up on these megaprojects.

Madbouly also said that he welcomed the cooperation proposed by Bechtel in constructing a sixth metro line and in managing new cities.

Bechtel’s Infrastructure Global Business Unit President Shaun Kenny expressed his enthusiasm to work with the Egyptian government on megaprojects currently being implemented, especially the metro line.

The Egyptian prime minister stated that the country is currently localizing its industrial production with the aim of rendering it more sustainable.


Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals bid to buy Alameda Healthcare halted

Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals Group said its bid to acquire Alameda Healthcare through a sale and purchase agreement of shares has been halted. (Cleopatra Hospitals Group)
Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals Group said its bid to acquire Alameda Healthcare through a sale and purchase agreement of shares has been halted. (Cleopatra Hospitals Group)
Updated 10 May 2021

Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals bid to buy Alameda Healthcare halted

Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals Group said its bid to acquire Alameda Healthcare through a sale and purchase agreement of shares has been halted. (Cleopatra Hospitals Group)
  • The proposed deal was originally announced by Cleopatra in late December 2020

RIYADH: Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals Group said its bid to acquire Alameda Healthcare through a sale and purchase agreement of shares has been halted.

It made the disclosure in a filing to the Egyptian Stock Exchange on Monday.

The proposed deal was originally announced by Cleopatra in late December 2020, with an estimated value of about $500 million.

But it was quickly followed by an announcement from the Egyptian Competition Authority saying that it did not agree in principle to the acquisition.

It highlighted the potential consolidation of Cleopatra’s dominance over hospitals around Cairo and Giza.

Alameda Healthcare’s network includes four tertiary care hospitals in Cairo, two of which are currently being constructed. Once the facilities are fully commissioned Alameda Healthcare will have a capacity of 890 beds, according to its website. The network also includes facilities in Kuwait and London, outpatient clinics, diagnostic centers, specialist centers, pharmacies, and a rehabilitation center.