Monday, September 7, 2020

How coronavirus could usher in a new age of automation

By Brad Howard, CNBC

From burger-flipping machines to car-building robots — not to mention high-powered software taking on more and more administrative tasks — automation is rapidly making hundreds of skills obsolete in the U.S. economy.

“Businesses are kind of looking and seeing that humans can get sick from Covid,” said Marcus D. Casey, an associate professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Machines can’t. Even if we don’t see it right away, we surely see that there’s going to be a move toward more automation.”

A recent McKinsey study found that artificial intelligence and deep learning could add as much as $3.5 trillion to $5.8 trillion in annual value for companies. The economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t helped. In fact, Covid-19 could be accelerating the pace of automation. To put the increase in robotics in perspective, the U.S. had 0.49 robots per 1,000 workers in 1995. That number rose to 1.79 robots per 1,000 workers in 2017.  Read more >>