In a new report, McKinsey describes a broad new age of manufacturing that it calls Industry 4.0. The consulting firm says the changes under way are affecting most businesses. They are probably not “another industrial revolution,” it says, but together, there is “strong potential to change the way factories work.”
For decades, the US has watched its bedrock manufacturing industries wither away, as they’ve instead grown thick in Japan, in South Korea, in China, Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the US lost about 5 million manufacturing jobs just from 1997 to 2014. This includes the production of lithium-ion batteries, which, though invented by Americans, were commercialized in Japan and later South Korea and China.
So Chiang’s innovation could be a poster-child for a new strain of thinking in the US. This says that, while such industries are not likely to return from Asia…
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Robot writers are hot. No, that statement is not a call to fix their air conditioners, much less to date them. It’s to acknowledge that pioneers in artificial intelligence (AI) and automated writing have gotten a lot of media attention (partly because it hits close to home; the deployments are public and noticeable and it invokes the perennial concern about job loss due to automation).
So what does the future hold for robo-writers? Will technology leaders in natural language generation write up everything, relegating humans to mere readers? Some boosters within leading companies seem to imply that possibility, but of course that’s what boosters do; they boost and boast.
I predict that robot writers will emerge, but slowly. The main reason is that writers need to find something to say that is worth reading, whether that something is routine or consists of novel insights of lesser or greater…
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