Kevin Roose, columnist writer for Business Day and the New York Times’ The Shift, attended the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this year.
This was his take-away observations from his recent journey: The Hidden Automation Agenda of the Davos Elite
In public, many executives wring their hands over the negative consequences that artificial intelligence and automation could have for workers. They take part in panel discussions about building “human-centered A.I.” for the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” — Davos-speak for the corporate adoption of machine learning and other advanced technology — and talk about the need to provide a safety net for people who lose their jobs as a result of automation.
But in private settings, including meetings with the leaders of the many consulting and technology firms whose pop-up storefronts line the Davos Promenade, these executives tell a different story: They are racing to automate their own work forces to stay ahead of the competition, with little regard for the impact on workers.
Few American executives will admit wanting to get rid of human workers, a taboo in today’s age of inequality. So they’ve come up with a long list of buzzwords and euphemisms to disguise their intent. Workers aren’t being replaced by machines, they’re being “released” from onerous, repetitive tasks. Companies aren’t laying off workers, they’re “undergoing digital transformation.”
A 2017 survey by Deloitte found that 53 percent of companies had already started to use machines to perform tasks previously done by humans. The figure is expected to climb to 72 percent by next year.
According to an MSNBC report, after losing the House in November, Republicans are not assigning members to key committees, such as the Ethics committee, House Administration Committee or the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Until they do, no more transcript testimony cannot be forwarded if the Office of Special Counsel were to request it.
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