Google, Apple, and Others Prepare the Workforce for Automation

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Google, Apple, and Others Prepare the Workforce for Automation
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Google and Apple have launched initiatives aimed at providing training and educational tools to help people cope with job market changes caused by tech advancements, namely automation.

If automation and AI are seen as a source of miracles by enthusiasts, skeptics remain on the fence, while others (Elon Musk) go all the way to pinpoint these technologies as a source of existential threats to humanity.

Now that AI is more and more present in our daily lives, changing the way we live and work, there’s an urgent need to carefully identify the potential benefits, detriments, risks and their consequences of merging our lives with machines.

#Google devoted $1b USD to #automation-displacement education non-profitsClick To Tweet

AI and Automation, the Good, the bad, and the Ugly

The beating heart of Industry 4.0 is adapting manufacturing with new technologies. Automation, while still relatively in its infancy, is the most disruptive technology for manufacturing.

If automation only lowers costs of business owners and eliminates blue collar jobs, it could potentially widen the class gap between the rich and the poor to a dangerous degree.

In developed countries like the U.S., where robots have started taking over traditionally human tasks, automation could have serious social impacts. Although AI and automation could increase productivity and drive growth, it might also leave millions of Americans without jobs and disrupt their livelihoods, says the former Obama White House (Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy).

While tech companies should set, as a main goal, the development of a responsible and safe tech for humanity, the general public is called upon to adopt and adapt to tech-enabled changes.

Initiatives have multiplied with the goal to educate the public, and governments alike, about new tech. The goal of this education is to defuse fears, incite adoption, and facilitate adaptation.

One of the main takeaways of the World Summit AI 17 keynotes was that AI still have a long way to go before being able to exhibit creativity. Therefore, the best applications for AI are in conjunction with human brain power.

Five of the biggest Silicon Valley companies, Google, Facebook, IBM, Amazon and Microsoft, have teamed up to found the first non-profit Partnership on AI

The partnership aims to “benefit people and society”, via communication with the general public on AI issues, and promote “transparency”.

The most notable absentee from this initiative was Apple, but the company has its own agenda in that regard.

Apple Stores Converted Into “Educational” Town Squares

Last month, Apple held its iPhone Event (check out our takeaways here) at the Steve Jobs Theater in the company’s new Cupertino campus that CEO Tim Cook presented proudly. In the flying saucer-like structure surrounded by 9,000 trees and one of the largest solar panel installations in the world for 100% green power, Cook and his colleagues presented devices all powered by AI.

Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail, revealed the company’s decision to change its retail stores to “Town Squares”.

This not a mere change of name, but a change of function too, as Apple wants to think of its retail shops more as physical manifestation of the brand.

Apple’s new “Town Squares” are reimagined as open spaces and educational centers where people come to learn and hang out.

At the central place of Town Squares, which are planned to open in large cities all over the world, people will gather for presentations, and attend workshops and different educational classes. As most of Apple’s new devices and security suites are based on AI platforms, learning to engineer these systems will be central to their educational focus.

Need more convincing? AI was also the subject of Apple’s first ever open-source research, which you can read more about here.

These Squares will also feature daily experience, called “Today at Apple” that enable customers to get the latest Apple-related news and view the schedule of classes and events.

Opportunities for Everyone to “Grow With Google”

Google wants high tech tools and solutions, especially those developed in-house, to be better understood and used by as many people as possible.

Last Thursday in Pittsburgh, Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, announced the company’s new initiatives aiming at giving Americans an opportunity to learn how to have a better chance at keeping a job or growing their business in an automated economy.

  • The “Grow With Google” program will offer free training and tools via its website. The program will also be touring the U.S. and working with local communities and libraries to provide training in the form of workshops, special classes, and conferences to improve the employability of job seekers.
  • Through Google.org, Google will award $1 billion USD over the next five years as grants to nonprofit organizations for education and job training. As part of the initiative, Google made its largest single donation to date, $10 million; to Goodwill.
  • 1,000 volunteer Googlers will devote 1 million work hours in helping these organizations conduct high-tech training.

Google said over 70 million people in 180 countries are already benefiting from its educational products, and reiterated its commitment to continue the development of products and programs to enable opportunity for everyone.

What more can be done to help ready workers for automation?

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