Robots…people of the forward stampede

A prediction that up to a third of British jobs could be done by robots by 2030, gave rise to a flurry of articles and a mixed-bag of responses from industry in the media to date. In this race, it appears that at a high-level big business will be the clear winners and the rest of society will be the losers.

The reason it is a good sign for big business (with languishing profits since the global financial crisis) is that finally, they are able to gear up on traditional methods and invest in automatons in the hope of driving profits back up. However, if left unchecked, the process will systematically take over the work which was normally done by humans. The unions, on the other hand, sounded the alarm bell due to a recent report finding that government lacks a strategy to deal with this rise of technology. Moreover, they see the ascent of robots as a mass betrayal of the ordinary workers’ rights to opportunity, learning and thus upward mobility being disrupted in the workplace. The Sutton Trust argues that it may culminate into a basic two-tiered society of a highly skilled or elite group dominating the upper echelons, and the lower unskilled workers stuck at the bottom due to an ‘irremediably broken social ladder’.

A call to revisit the purpose of business…

Interestingly many economic sectors have been conducting futuristic research for decades in anticipation of a time in the market such as this. According to Schumacher the economist more than four decades ago in his book ‘Small is Beautiful’, big business stands to gain from this pressing march of the modern technology process he coined ‘people of the forward stampede’. While the rest of society who tries to seek to return to basic truths, like the trade unions, he called ‘home-comers’. It is intriguing to see how his forecast that the ‘people of the forward stampede’ would come to dominate the daily headlines with ample technological breakthroughs in an attempt to avert all the crises.

Bearing in mind both groups are interested in growth – a central feature of life – and thus could be seen as ‘progressive’, Schumacher makes the distinction that ‘home-comers’ believe that the direction of this ever-pressing growth pursuant of ever- greater size and -higher speeds and brutality by ‘people of the forward stampede’ defy all laws of natural harmony (effective participatory citizenship) and this is, in fact, the opposite of progress! Hence the call for stock-taking lest we destroy the very basis of our existence, and to pause and regroup for a re-orientation so as to remember what life is all about…

A typical burning question on the minds of most normal people who read up on or experience fears of robotics could be: As correctly anticipated, there is clearly an urgent need to revisit the core arguments made by this particular economist regarding (business models) economics and its purpose in C21st.

Business to bolster sustainability…

Undoubtedly job creation lies at the very heart of the sustainable business narrative and if it is to meet the needs of the future then the opportunity that we are faced with, i.e. a convergence of innovation and sustainability should be for the greater good of all in society. This means re-skilling the workforce to be coherent with business needs at a global, macro and big business level to be in synch with an agreed agenda such as the 2030 sustainable development goals. So that it is in lock-step with the robotics R&D prediction made by business consultants and as supported in the media. In this way business need not be wed to the political cycle but focus on influencing the changing powers as the time-horizon of big business far exceeds it anyway and as the narrative for society could spring forth naturally from the SDG’s – as illustrated by big business in defiance of political rhetoric when it remains ungrounded and lacking in evidence.

Robots debut daily across industry…from the built environment, retail trade, Hospitality and Tourism, Entertainment, to targeting customer groups…even learning how to walk!

The first futuristic house in the world that will be digitally designed, planned and built with giant robots is in Switzerland.

Robots taking to the sidewalks notwithstanding warehouses, hospitals, airports

French retailer Carrefour embraces robotics – stocktaking, product promos, deliveries,

John Lewis warns of job losses due to robots

VW robot to charge electric cars

Retail and Investment Banking  

Performing Warehouse Operations

Robot delivers room service in a resort to enhance the guest experience  

Lego Summer Robotics Camp get kids creative

The film industry produced some phenomenal robot performances over the years

Walt Disney Co. – Esports, Games, Robots

Robots playing show-host at events and perform other social activities 

The robot is designed to reduce caregiver stress

Robo advisers offer a portfolio tailored to personal risk and reward & new asset classes

Voice controlled robots for personal iPhone applications

What do you think…will robots take your job?

Do not hesitate to contact me for strategy advice or for help with on-site implementation to customise break-through concepts via service design and implementation to realise a return on business. My work experience geo-arc includes South Africa, UK, and Europe while pro bono consulting includes South & South East Asia with MA aviation research on customer satisfaction with ancillary services in Transatlantic & Transpacific Airlines.

About Danielle Charles Marketing and strategic project support on behalf of a corporation is part of what I do, mainly across 3 key focal areas – market research, strategy, and operations principally across two industries – Commercial Property, Tourism and Leisure (incl. aviation retail). I regularly contribute and comment on these and related topics. To demonstrate my commitment to Business and Research & Development, coupled with a fine-tuned practitioner’s mindset of more than 20 years industry success in big business, I am offering fresh insights for consideration to companies operating in my specialist areas. I am free to operate without any trade or other restraints whatsoever, so please feel free to contact me in this regard or for a discussion on more break-through ideas in keeping with emerging trends applied to your existing business model, to make a sustainable difference to business and society.

 By_Danielle Charles 


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