Davos: In age of AI, business leaders urge new thinking

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It’s no secret that automated machines and robots are rapidly replacing human workers. France, for one example, could lose three million jobs by 2025 due to automation, a former education minister campaigning for the French presidency has argued.

The topic has been front of mind this week for participants at the World Economic Forum’s annual summit in Davos, Switzerland. There, CBS News asked business leaders to look past the hope and hype of artificial intelligence and reflect on the negatives of automation.

Felix Marquardt, president international at Cylance, emphasized that the growth of artificial intelligence makes an education system overhaul more urgent than ever.

“The question truly is: are our educational systems ready for the challenges posed by A.I.?” Marquardt said. “Our schools are still primarily churning out job seekers, when what we need is for them to churn out job creators. Entrepreneurship needs to be much more seriously taught.”

The loss of good-paying jobs to rapidly expanding automation has enormous political consequences. It’s a point President Obama has made throughout his presidency, but particularly emphasized in his final weeks in office.

In an extensive interview with The New Yorker directly after Donald Trump’s election, the president forecast the dramatic economic disruption ahead.

“…At some point, when the problem is not just Uber but driverless Uber, when radiologists are losing their jobs to A.I., then we’re going to have to figure out how do we maintain a cohesive society and a cohesive democracy in which productivity and wealth generation are not automatically linked to how many hours you put in, where the links between production and distribution are broken, in some sense,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama hammered home the same point last week in his farewell address, warning that “the next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas.”

“It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class jobs obsolete,” he said, and repeated his call for a “new social compact” to protect Americans from sliding into poverty as a result.

Bob Moritz, CEO of professional services firm PwC, struck a hopeful note. Based off his conversations with CEOs, companies will always be in the market for what robots cannot provide, Moritz said.

Read the source article at CBSnews.com.