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Trump vs. The Robots: US jobs and Promises

Osama Rizvi

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Among political observers, there is a widespread notion that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will inherit an economy in the best of shape. Inflation is down to historic and desirable levels, the unemployment rate stands at 4.9% and U.S. economic growth is better than expected. Moreover, observers can’t help but hear Mr. Trump’s boastful rhetoric as soon as he steps onto the bully pulpit. But as promising as the picture might seem, it will be very difficult to carry off his promise of ‘getting back our jobs’ in the long term.

Since 1980’s and up to the 2000’s, the world has undergone immense changes. The most prominent and significant being that in the realm of technology. And, the internet generates new, mind boggling marvels with each passing day – and continues to do so. Through the ‘Internet of Things’ and automation people are experiencing massive changes in the way the world works while scientists are signing letters foreboding the dangers of the rising AI. U.S. politicians and the media have typically blamed offshoring [usually to China] and international trade agreements for wrecking the domestic economy. A University of California study asserts that approximately 14 million white collar jobs are susceptible to off-shoring [5]. Ron and Anil Hira, in their book “Outsourcing America, believe that US companies justify off-shoring by arguing that to create more jobs domestically through cost savings are “self-delusion.” (Ron Hira is a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Anial Hira is a professor at Simon Fraser University.)

In other words, it is not the intervention of foreigners which leads to the scarcity of jobs but automation. There are two vocal camps on this issue: One believes that automation, instead of creating a paucity of jobs instead leads to the creation of more job opportunities. And the other camp remains certain that, despite the spread of AI and factory robots, their jobs will remain intact during the next coming years, as reported by a research paper issued by the non-partisan PEW Research Center. Experts surveyed by Pew called for a more optimistic approach: “many jobs currently performed by humans will be substantially taken over by robots or digital agents by 2025. But they have faith that human ingenuity will create new jobs, industries, and ways to make a living, just as it has been doing since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution”. However, there are dissenters as well.

Justin Reich, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, says: “Robots and AI will increasingly replace routine kinds of work − I’m not sure that jobs will disappear altogether, though that seems possible, but the jobs that are left will be lower-paying and less secure than those that exist now. The middle is moving to the bottom.”

One can see very clearly how technologies are replacing even white-collar jobs and thus breaking the presumption that only routine and repetitive jobs are at danger from automation. Take for example, the case of Enlitic: A deep-learning system that is now being tested in Australia. The software can diagnose diseases, analyze X-rays and identify cancer. Moreover, the field of medicine is not the only profession feeling the heat of automation. Jobs in the field of law are also vulnerable. There is software in existence that can rummage through dossiers of legal documents and easily pin-point the desired files.

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“Automation is now “blind to the color of your collar”, declares Jerry Kaplan, author of “Humans Need Not Apply”, a book that predicts upheaval in the labor market.

Another Perspective

The other camp, however, is trying to peddle a more positive future. Debunking the ‘lump of labor’ fallacy which states that there is a finite amount of work and automation, and hence opening a chasm between jobs and peoples, the proponents state that automating a task results in creating more tasks as more people or different processes are now required to operate that ‘automated’ job. Again quoting The Economist, “During the Industrial Revolution more and more tasks in the weaving process were automated, prompting workers to focus on the things machines could not do, such as operating a machine, and then tending multiple machines to keep them running smoothly. This caused output to grow explosively. In America during the 19th century the amount of coarse cloth a single weaver could produce in an hour increased by a factor of 50, and the amount of labor required per yard of cloth fell by 98%. This made cloth cheaper and increased demand for it, which in turn created more jobs for weavers: their numbers quadrupled between 1830 and 1900. In other words, technology gradually changed the nature of the weaver’s job, and the skills required to do it, rather than replacing it altogether,” says James Bessen, an economist at Boston University School of Law said.

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“We already have cars that talk to us, a phone we can talk to, robots that lift the elderly out of bed, and apps that remind us to call Mom. An app can dial Mom’s number and even send flowers, but an app can’t do the most human of all things: emotionally connect with her,” according to Pamela Rutledge, PhD and director of the Media Psychology Research Center.

When Mr. Trump assumes office on 20th January, 2017, he says that one of his first priorities, among other things, is to repeal the Trans-Pacific Partners or otherwise known as “TPP.” And Trump intends to lure back U.S. companies by offering lower taxes (if not through sheer brute force as displayed in his negotiations with the air conditioner manufacture, Carrier). And yet, at the same point, Trump promises more government spending e.g. Infrastructure development.   Economists generally agree that lower taxes and increased spending will increase U.S. debt which may potentially lead to a ruinous outcome for the US Economy. Nevertheless, Americans who voted for him count on his actions and his promises, including bringing thousands of jobs back to the US. Therefore, observers must consider the question: What is that is more dangerous? Off-shoring or Automation?

Independent Economic Analyst, Writer and Editor. Contributes columns to different newspapers. He is a columnist for Oilprice.com, where he analyzes Crude Oil and markets. Also a sub-editor of an online business magazine and a Guest Editor in Modern Diplomacy. His interests range from Economic history to Classical literature.

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Artificial Intelligence: Everyday Everywhere

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May 17 marks the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day with the theme of enabling the positive use of ‘Artificial Intelligence for All’.

The term artificial intelligence (AI) may conjure up science fiction stories or robots. However, you may be surprised if you find out that it is present in your everyday life.

Video games, online customer support, smart home appliances, promotional emails, as well as personalized and contextual digital advertising are some examples of AI.

In Iran, AI started to be taught as a university course 16 years ago. Iran is applying AI in mitigating traffic density, offering financial services and for military purposes.

Like all other parts of the world, Iran is developing AI as a necessary part of up-to-date technology and modern life.

Wherever you live, you are surrounded by AI whether you notice or not.

The smartphone in your hand, your bank credit card in your purse, and even appliances you use every day in your home, they are AI-based technology in your daily life. AI has a great impact on your life and without it, your life would be very different.

Like any other new types of technology, AI has positive and negative effects on our life and like other aspects of life, our awareness is the only way to benefit from facilities, which make our life easier if they are used in right way.

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 

According to UN, the purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.

May 17 marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union.

In recent years there has been significant progress in AI technology, made possible by tremendous advances in contributing fields, such as big data, machine learning, computing power, storage capacity and cloud computing, among others.

AI-based technologies are already emerging as a key component of proactive tools and applications being used to help people lead better lives by improving healthcare, education, finance, agriculture, transportation, and a wide range of other services.

The 2018 theme will focus on the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accelerate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

First published in our partner Tehran Times

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Use blockchain model to cut small firms’ costs and empower citizens

MD Staff

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Applying the “blockchain” model to areas like energy use, supply chains and governance would cut costs for firms and empower citizens, said the Industry Committee.

Blockchain transactions are recorded by multiple users, rather than by paid – and often costly – intermediaries. The model is currently best known for underpinning the functioning of digital currencies, such as Bitcoin.

The committee approved on Wednesday recommendations on how to apply the blockchain model elsewhere, so as to cut intermediation costs for small firms, empower citizens and enable the EU to become a global leader in this field.

It is not all about Bitcoin

Citizens could use blockchains to gain full control of their own data and decide what to share, and small firms and innovative start-ups could use them to cut intermediation costs and ensure that transactions are executed efficiently, the approved text says.

MEPs advocate applying the blockchain model to areas such as energy consumption, health care, supply chains, transport, finance and the creative industries.

For example, the model could help to:

  • monitor the origin of goods, offering greater certainty that, e.g., diamonds are ethically sourced, clothes are not made in sweatshops and a bottle of champagne comes from Champagne,
  • “democratize” the energy market, by enabling households that produce energy to exchange and consume it without the need to pay an intermediary agency, and
  • create records such as land registries, birth certificates and business licences with less dependence upon lawyers, notaries and government officials.

Getting blockchain rules right

Industry Committee MEPs call on the EU Commission to propose a regulatory approach designed to promote different uses of blockchains and other Distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) that is innovation-friendly and technology neutral.

To ensure the sector is competitive, MEPs also ask for the post-2020 EU long-term budget (Multiannual Financial Framework – MFF, currently under negotiation) to include funding for blockchain-based research and projects.

Background

Blockchain-based transactions create fast, cheap and secure public records and can be also used for many non-financial tasks, such as casting votes in elections or proving that a document existed at a specific time. Blockchains are particularly well suited to situations where it is necessary to know ownership histories.

They also present opportunities in all kinds of public services such as health and welfare payments and, at the frontier of blockchain development, are self-executing contracts paving the way for companies that run themselves without human intervention.

Blockchain – How does it work? 

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The Cyber Harassment of Women in Pakistan

Venita Christopher

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Technology has gained remarkable success in the global world, today everyone have an access to the modern technology and are addicted to its use especially the social media websites like face book, twitter, Imo, Skype, hangouts and too many other websites like this have caught too many people in its web that not only young generation but adults are also trapped in its spindle.  Both men and women are not safe of Cyber harassment today but women are the more prominent victims of being exploited sexually and mentally. Invasion of privacy, extortion, cyber bully and blackmailing are at the top rank for spoiling women lives.

According to the report of Digital Rights Foundation 40 percent of the women faces different forms of online harassment on internet. These social websites are useful on one way but on the other hand there are too many vulnerable effects of these websites. Cyber world has excelled in its tricks today and there are many ways either to secure or ruin human lives in seconds through cyber world. Keeping a blind eye and trust on known or unknown people a lot of lives in Pakistan has been lost due to their ignorance, innocence and lack of awareness about using social websites.

According to the study of Online Violence 72 percent of women in Pakistan are unaware of the Cyber Laws and Cyber Hygiene. From the last few years researches have shown that women in Pakistan are facing insecurity and threat to their lives because of these social and dating websites. Women are being cyber bullied, harassed, blackmail and tortured online on these websites which has spread a frightening roars in the world. Today the main concern is why women are not secure either online or offline? Why there is no any way developed yet to stop this horrifying trend in Pakistan and to secure the lives of women in future?

We all have addiction of using social websites, no doubt they are useful but on the other hand lack of awareness and tricks of cyber world have led us to an insecure world that we don’t find a way to escape from the trap. Despite of the Cyber bill passed by Pakistan in 2015 this vulnerable problem has not been stopped yet and the victims are increasing day by day. In our patriarchal society women are being considered as socially, morally, spiritually and physically weak living beings created by God and our society treat them in the same way. The thinking of society have made too many women psychologically weak that they keep their mouths closed after being raped, bullied, harassed and blackmailed online or offline. The conservative thinking of our societies that women are the respect of  the family and they have to close their mouths or keep the thing as secret  if any horrifying thing happened to them because if they speak out they may disrespect their families status in societies.

The government of Pakistan passed  Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act  last year that only worked a bit but till now no act or bill have been passed yet to stop online violence against women at bigger level. The lack of awareness and education is one of the biggest concerns about the deaths of women who were sexually exploited online. Few powerful women of our society if ever took a step to get themselves help and caught the hidden culprit behind computer , our families and police investigators added fuel to fire and cause psychological fear in them despite of helping them. The investigators both male and females ask such an abusive and shameless questions to females that it hit the nerves of victims and they left the case in between instead of fighting for their rights. The question arise here that why the authorities are sometimes quiet on this issue from too many years? What is the purpose of passing cyber bill when there is no implementation of it practically all across the country? Why male police officers are being used for investigation of women who are being harassed online? These are all the reasons that women are facing insecurity in Pakistan and in other Asian countries not only offline but online as well because not proper measures ,rules ,laws, bills and acts has been passed yet to stop cyber stalking, trolling and extortion of women.

Recommendations to Check Cyber Crimes:

There should be female cyber experts in Pakistan who would only deal with the issues of women being exploited online because victims sometimes feel hesitation in showing or revealing personal data or pictures to male cyber experts.

There should be a separate department of cyber experts who would only deal with these issues personally despite of involving whole family in case and women should be given contacts of those experts so whenever they would face problem or are being scam they would immediately seek help to those experts.

Women should go straight forward to these types of departments and meet with experts without any hesitation. Moreover there should be one female police investigator all time available in cyber section for investigation of women cases so they would not feel ashamed or disrespect rather than going to police stations.

It is impossible to stop cyber threats in today’s world but awareness ,campaigns ,seminars conducted by cyber experts and surveys of women NGO’s and organizations in Pakistan can somehow  play a decisive role in saving  the lives of women.

There should be male and female counselors available in cyber departments for the counseling of harassed women who are being victimize and mentally effected and had fear to express truth or reality  in order to seek help and to caught the culprit behind computer.

A software should be developed and would be provided to all women either educated or uneducated  in their cell phones, laptops and computes that will detect any harmful act done to their devices or the social sites used to that devices .

Proper seminars should be conducted regularly in remote areas by women organizations and NGO, s where women are being taught the use and awareness of these social sites and those ways to protect their lives online.

Government should introduce a subject of cyber hygiene for safe use of social websites for all the students in every education institute from junior classes.

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