Robot-writing increased AP’s earnings stories by tenfold | Poynter. Since The Associated Press adopted automation technology to write its earnings reports, the news cooperative has generated 3,000 stories per quarter, ten times its previous output, according to a press release from Automated Insights, the company behind the automation. Those stories also contained “far fewer errors” than stories written by actual journalists. The Associated Press began publishing earnings reports using automation technology in July for companies including Hasbro Inc., Honeywell International Inc. and GE. Appended to those stories is a note that reads “This story was generated automatically by Automated Insights ( using data from Zacks Investment Research. Full GE report: The stories include descriptions of each business and contain “forward-looking guidance provided by the companies,” according to the release. Automation has been used to generate content before. Here’s the release:
Five Trends Shaping the Future of Work inShare671 Guest post by Jacob Morgan, author of the newly released, The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization. You can connect with Jacob on Twitter or email him directly: Jacob@ChessMediaGroup.com. If there’s one thing that we can all agree on it’s that the world of work is changing…quickly. The way we have been working over the past few years is NOT how are we are going to be working in the coming years. Perhaps one of the most important underlying factors driving this change is the coming shift around who drives how work gets done. New behaviors Ten years ago if someone were to tell you that you would have all this information about yourself public for the world to read, see and hear, you would have said they were crazy. Technologies Big data, the cloud, the internet of things, robots, automation, video, collaboration platforms, and other technologies are changing the way we work and live. Millennials in the workplace Mobility
Two charts on technological unemployment Source: Washington's Blog I find this chart very interesting, because it shows how low unemployment was in the early 1900s. I suspect most people don't know this. Here is a chart I put together from ILO data which suggests that even the proportion of the global workforce in work can fall during periods of global GDP growth: And as I have posted elsewhere, the natural level of unemployment, which is a measure of the supposed healthy amount of unemployment in an economy, has been climbing over the last 100 years too. Food for thought I hope.
Algorithms that design structures better than engineers - Jordan Burgess (200px tall x 600px wide beam supported on the left hand edge and with downward force applied to the bottom right.) You are watching an optimisation algorithm come up with the best design completely automatically. The outcome is greatest stiffness shape possible for a given amount of material. And amazingly it’s a nuanced truss that isn’t far removed from the look of most motorway bridges. That’s pretty reassuring, actually. The engineeringy name for this process is ‘topology optimisation' - essentially making the best use of shape for structures. In the past, welding or other manufacturing techniques were impractical for making the full strength but oddly-shaped structures. By specifying the restrictions and load cases, we can produce parts that can support the same forces, yet use less than half of the material.
Hedge fund robots are crushing their human rivals Synopsis The hedge fund robots are winning again. In 2014, computer algorithm-led investing produced stellar returns, beating most human managers and recovering most of their losses from 2011, 2012 and 2013. Summary The biggest gains came at funds that practiced a “trend following” strategy. Advances in Artificial Intelligence Could Lead to Mass Unemployment Warn Experts Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Dr Stuart Armstrong from the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford said that there was a risk that computers could take over human jobs “at a faster rate than new jobs could be generated.” “We have some studies looking at to which jobs are the most vulnerable and there are quite a lot of them in logistics, administration, insurance underwriting,” said Dr Armstrong. “Ultimately, huge swathe of jobs are potentially vulnerable to improved artificial intelligence.” Dr Murray Shanahan, a professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College London, agreed that improvements in artificial intelligence were creating “short term issues that we all need to be talking about.” "It's very difficult to predict," said Dr Shanahan. Both academics did however praise Google for creating an ethics board to look at the “how to deploy artificial intelligence safely and reduce the risks” after its £400 million purchase of London-based start-up DeepMind.
Technology will replace 80% of what doctors do By Vinod Khosla FORTUNE -- Healthcare today is often really the "practice of medicine" rather than the "science of medicine." Take fever as an example. For 150 years, doctors have routinely prescribed antipyretics like ibuprofen to help reduce fever. So when something as basic as fever reduction is a hallmark of the "practice of medicine" and hasn't been challenged for 100+ years, we have to ask: What else might be practiced due to tradition rather than science? Today's diagnoses are partially informed by patients' medical histories and partially by symptoms (but patients are bad at communicating what's really going on). The net effect is patient outcomes that are inferior to and more expensive than what they should be. Healthcare should become more about data-driven deduction and less about trial-and-error. Replacing 80% of what doctors do? Computers are better at organizing and recalling complex information than a hotshot Harvard MD. Don't expect ace diagnosis systems overnight.
Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change February 2013, David Rosnick As productivity grows in high-income, as well as developing countries, social choices will be made as to how much of the productivity gains will be taken in the form of higher consumption levels versus fewer work hours. In the last few decades, for example, western European countries have significantly reduced work hours (through shorter weekly hours and increased vacation time) while the United States has not. This paper estimates the impact on climate change of reducing work hours over the rest of the century by an annual average of 0.5 percent. It finds that such a change in work hours would eliminate about one-quarter to one-half of the global warming that is not already locked in (i.e. warming that would be caused by 1990 levels of greenhouse gas concentrations already in the atmosphere). Report - PDF | Flash Press Release
Solar-Powered Robot Farmers Are Almost Ready to Start Working the Land So it looks like we're going to live to see the rise of the autonomous robot farmer after all. Or at least, the robot farmhand. There are plenty of promising agricultural automatons in the works, after all: We've got mechanized hydroponic factory farmers, self-propelling farmballs, and, now, solar-powered robots that collect data, pick weeds, and someday, harvest crops. That latest entrant is the Ladybird, the product of a $1 million research project helmed by the University of Sydney. "Ladybird focuses on broad acre agriculture and is solar-electric powered. Sukkarieh was awarded the 'Researcher of the Year' accolade by the Australian Vegetable Industry, which is apparently more excited at the prospect of getting some automated help than it is afraid the bot will take its jobs. Image: University of Sydney Australia in particular is facing more regular drought and epic heat, as it did just earlier this year.
How Technology Is Destroying Jobs Given his calm and reasoned academic demeanor, it is easy to miss just how provocative Erik Brynjolfsson’s contention really is. Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee have been arguing for the last year and a half that impressive advances in computer technology—from improved industrial robotics to automated translation services—are largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years. Even more ominous for workers, the MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine. That robots, automation, and software can replace people might seem obvious to anyone who’s worked in automotive manufacturing or as a travel agent. But Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s claim is more troubling and controversial. Dr.
The End of the Web, Search, and Computer as We Know It | Wired Opinion Illustration: Ross Patton/Wired People ask what the next web will be like, but there won’t be a next web. The space-based web we currently have will gradually be replaced by a time-based worldstream. It’s already happening, and it all began with the lifestream, a phenomenon that I (with Eric Freeman) predicted in the 1990s and shared in the pages of Wired almost exactly 16 years ago. This lifestream — a heterogeneous, content-searchable, real-time messaging stream — arrived in the form of blog posts and RSS feeds, Twitter and other chatstreams, and Facebook walls and timelines. It’s a bit like moving from a desktop to a magic diary: Picture a diary whose pages turn automatically, tracking your life moment to moment … Until you touch it, and then, the page-turning stops. Today, this diary-like structure is supplanting the spatial one as the dominant paradigm of the cybersphere: All the information on the internet will soon be a time-based structure. The web will be history.
Why Do We Still Have to Work? | Politeia In a 1930 essay called “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” the economist John Maynard Keynes wrote that “assuming no important wars and no important increase in population, the economic problem may be solved, or be at least within sight of solution, within a hundred years.” The Great Depression was just beginning. Few people were as optimistic as Keynes. But Keynes pointed out that in spite of the economic crisis—and in spite of the fact that many people were suffering—Europe and the U.S. were still vastly richer than they had been before the Industrial Revolution. Keynes argued that the depression did not mean that the economy was fundamentally weak, In fact, he wrote, the depression was caused by the speed with which the economy had been growing. If productivity continued to increase by just a few percent every year, then through the miracle of compound interest we could be eight times better off in 2030 than we were in 1930. This is not the world Keynes imagined.
Nearly Half of U.S. Jobs Could Be Done by Computers, Study Says Nearly Half of U.S. Jobs Could Be Done by Computers, Study Says If computers become as smart as humans, will they do our jobs better than we can? A recent study [pdf] out of Oxford University found that almost half of U.S. jobs are vulnerable to being taken over by computers as artificial intelligence continues to improve. The study, based on 702 detailed job listings, found that computers could already replace many workers in transportation and logistics, production labor and administrative support. But computers, armed with the ability to find patterns in big data sets, are also increasingly qualified to perform "non-routine cognitive tasks." "While computerization has been historically confined to routine tasks involving explicit rule-based activities, algorithms for big data are now rapidly entering domains reliant upon pattern recognition and can readily substitute for labor in a wide range of non-routine cognitive tasks," write study authors Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.
The Rich and Their Robots Are About to Make Half the World's Jobs Disappear Two hugely important statistics concerning the future of employment as we know it made waves recently: 1. 85 people alone command as much wealth as the poorest half of the world. 2. 47 percent of the world's currently existing jobs are likely to be automated over the next two decades. Combined, those two stats portend a quickly-exacerbating dystopia. As more and more automated machinery (robots, if you like) are brought in to generate efficiency gains for companies, more and more jobs will be displaced, and more and more income will accumulate higher up the corporate ladder. That's according to a 2013 Oxford study, which was highlighted in this week's Economist cover story. And, as is historically the case, the capitalists eat the benefits. The prosperity unleashed by the digital revolution has gone overwhelmingly to the owners of capital and the highest-skilled workers. Those trends aren't just occurring in the US, either.