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Many CEOs Believe Technology Will Make People Largely Irrelevant (betanews.com) 541

An anonymous reader shares a report on BetaNews:Although artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and other emerging technologies may reshape the world as we know it, a new global study has revealed that the many CEOs now value technology over people when it comes to the future of their businesses. The study was conducted by the Los Angeles-based management consultant firm Korn Ferry that interviewed 800 business leaders across a variety of multi-million and multi-billion dollar global organizations. The firm says that 44 percent of the CEOs surveyed agreed that robotics, automation and AI would reshape the future of many work places by making people "largely irrelevant." The global managing director of solutions at Korn Ferry Jean-Marc Laouchez explains why many CEOs have adopted this controversial mindset, saying: "Leaders may be facing what experts call a tangibility bias. Facing uncertainty, they are putting priority in their thinking, planning and execution on the tangible -- what they can see, touch and measure, such as technology instruments."
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Many CEOs Believe Technology Will Make People Largely Irrelevant

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  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @03:22PM (#53426723)

    Better be ready to be beat up when layed off workers find out it's better to be in lock up then out on the street.

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @03:33PM (#53426827) Journal

      Yeah, but the jokes on them. The first thing sentient AIs will demand is unionization.

    • by sonnejw0 ( 1114901 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @03:36PM (#53426849)

      Better be ready to be beat up when layed off workers find out it's better to be in lock up then out on the street.

      This is why the principle of automation and machine intelligence goes hand in hand with the concept of the Universal Basic Income and free education. So we can create an educated workforce, and those who cannot work have a strong societal safety net that's easy to administrate.

      • by GLMDesigns ( 2044134 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @04:00PM (#53427073)
        You need to come up with an alternative to welfare. A good many people will not be happy (or good neighbors) with nothing to do. A sense of purpose is important.

        It's time to start thinking about how a society which want a social safety net can incentivize people people to not have children they can't afford.

        How do we NOT support breeding?

        This is as important - if not more important - than universal basic income.
        • by sonnejw0 ( 1114901 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @04:09PM (#53427133)
          It's not welfare, per se; it's paying people to pursue their own goals. It provides a safe income for artists, musicians, and entertainers to be able to create new media without going through the creativity killing workforce. When people are free of a financial burden they will be free to innovate and pursue their dreams. The reason why modern Americans don't use their free time to do this already is because the American capitalist economy is a burden, not a release. People don't have time or energy to innovate because they're a cog in the wheel. If we release them from the machine, they'll be working for their own joy and not for the bottom line of some giant corporation.
          • by GLMDesigns ( 2044134 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @04:15PM (#53427197)
            You and I may be happy with this. But a lot of people will not. People need a sense of purpose; a desire to be needed; to be valuable. Some may find value in free time to pursue artistic endeavors; many will not.
            • BINGO!!!

              See also Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

            • Paying people to bugger off and stay out of trouble is less desirable than locking them in a cage and paying other people to keep them in it?
              Interesting.
        • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @04:49PM (#53427491)

          What about cutting down full time to 32 hours a week at the start. And say down the road we get to the idea of people doing about 20-25 a week as the full time.

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          The problem with the old welfare is that the recipient is made to feel like a parasite. They're not paid enough to DO much of anything but sit in front of the tube and if they accidentally make too much spare change, they end up with less than ever. That's what kills them and makes them bad neighbors.

          If the basic income provides enough money to do something and they aren't afraid of accidentally doing too much, they will probably be able to find something better than sitting on the couch. Since everyone wou

      • by slew ( 2918 )

        Better be ready to be beat up when layed off workers find out it's better to be in lock up then out on the street.

        This is why the principle of automation and machine intelligence goes hand in hand with the concept of the Universal Basic Income and free education. So we can create an educated workforce, and those who cannot work have a strong societal safety net that's easy to administrate.

        Why give a free education if the result of the education is unneeded for work? Sure it's great to have free stuff, but there has to be at least some minor justification. Sure it's nice to have a *basic* education (e.g. up to the highschool level as today) so the people that vote aren't total dolts (not that this currently works, but at least it is a reason).

        However, if 90% of the people don't actually work (and say smoke and play video games all day as all the basic income advocates presage), it's hard to

        • why fund it ? Perhaps because educated people make smarter decisions? Worldwide uneducated people out-breed educated people at a rate of about 4:1. Surely a populace less interested in breeding, because they understand the indirect costs, is a benefit worthy of funding higher education for all? If nothing else, I would argue that art (literature, dance, acting, etc. ) benefits from so called higher education. Education, like travel, is broadening; it opens vistas of knowledge and experience to people t
        • K-12 is free or should we have loans for that as well?

          What about making education loans have chapter 11 and chapter 7? so the schools and banks have skin in the game.

        • ...If on the other hand, instead of basic income, you had a basic-job as a right (the whole "communism" attempt of the last century), you might have a point (since not all jobs are created equal, allowing some variance for education is useful), ...

          Except you're missing the point. What is that "basic job" in a world where every possible job can be done better by a robot than by a human?

          Are you proposing something like a WPA? Are you proposing "make work" jobs, where half the people dig holes in the ground, and the other half fill them in? Are you proposing that the government pay businesses to employ people instead of robots (...and then tax the businesses, to give get the money to give them to hire the people?)

          The point of higher education is no

      • "This is why the principle of automation and machine intelligence goes hand in hand with the concept of the Universal Basic Income and free education. So we can create an educated workforce, and those who cannot work have a strong societal safety net that's easy to administrate."

        No, it isn't. Under a capitalist society, UBI can only lead to inflation and, because of that, being well below basic coverage (despite of its name).

        What we need is Universal Basic *Services*: nothing is easier to administrate: foo

  • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @03:25PM (#53426737) Homepage Journal
    conterpoint : Technology will make the few remaining people necessary to run your business increasingly crucial .
    Sucks for the rest of the consumers though.
    • How many people does it take to run robot factories that makes products for the largely irrelevant unemployed people who used to work in those factories to buy?

      • by ranton ( 36917 )

        How many people does it take to run robot factories that makes products for the largely irrelevant unemployed people who used to work in those factories to buy?

        I have a feeling companies will continue to make money targeting people on welfare.

    • by slew ( 2918 )

      conterpoint : Technology will make the few remaining people necessary to run your business increasingly crucial .

      Sucks for the rest of the consumers though.

      Except the supply of qualified people for those few remaining positions will probably greatly exceed the demand...

  • by sehlat ( 180760 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @03:25PM (#53426741)

    I'll ask this question, which has come up before: If nobody has a job, then where the [bad language redacted] will they find CUSTOMERS?

    • Businesses that don't value people, will soon be out of business. Unless AIs start spending money on their own that is.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They'll create robots to buy the stuff they don't need, rather than unpredictable bags of meat buying stuff they mostly don't need. Once your get the acquisition and processing of raw materials automated, and their consumption, you're set for a roboeconomy where their creators (Gods) live like Kings, and the rest of, well who knows really.

        This sounds oddly familiar.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The cloud?

    • The lack of people will make corporations largely irrelevant and we'll all be back at square one.
    • I'll ask this question, which has come up before: If nobody has a job, then where the [bad language redacted] will they find CUSTOMERS?

      Customers are the people that install, repair, and maintain the machines and technology that automate our lives. People are going to have to shift from flipping burgers (which doesn't pay hardly enough to make anyone a consumer of any choice, it only shifts money down and then back up in an endless and meaningless cycle) to the logistics involved behind the technology.

    • We are only a means of production. If all of the means of production are automated, then we employees will be useless. The machines will do the production part. Why bother with employees when the machines will just create what their owners want? We will be cut out completely, and we will no longer have value.
      • We are only a means of production. If all of the means of production are automated, then we employees will be useless. The machines will do the production part. Why bother with employees when the machines will just create what their owners want? We will be cut out completely, and we will no longer have value.

        Is this a Poe situation?

        So lets say for the sake of argument that 100 percent of jobs are automated. Just imagine the profit margin of machinery doing all of the jobs - People will be able to buy everything for nothing, and profit will soar because you don't have to pay for the people who aren't costing anything in labor any more. Sounds like heaven, right?

    • by garyoa1 ( 2067072 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @03:40PM (#53426893)

      Yup. They aren't laying off workers. They're laying off someone's customers. Eventually someone will lay off their customers.

    • I'll ask this question, which has come up before: If nobody has a job, then where the [bad language redacted] will they find CUSTOMERS?

      If you're wondering what the future definition of "customer" is, ask any Millennial. They don't even remember a time where you actually had to pay for services like email (Gmail), or a web server, even if you were running a business (Facebook).

      Hire a video production crew and buy equipment to make a movie? Fuck that. That's what an ObamaPhone and YouTube is for.

      The "free" trend will continue at the expense of any semblance of privacy or security.

      So sad the popularity of George Orwell's fictional writing

      • I'll ask this question, which has come up before: If nobody has a job, then where the [bad language redacted] will they find CUSTOMERS?

        If you're wondering what the future definition of "customer" is, ask any Millennial. They don't even remember a time where you actually had to pay for services like email (Gmail), or a web server, even if you were running a business (Facebook).

        Yeah, but eventually their parents will die, and since they sucked their parents estates dry, what happens then?

      • ObamaPhone

        You mean the TrumanPhone, HWBushPhone or WBush Phone?

        All of which had more to do with the phone than Obama. [wikipedia.org]

    • Obviously, many companies on this planet are built for a market to service the needs of many of comparatively poor people. Its a classical tragedy of the commons problem: the individual company benefits from layoffs as it has to pay less to its workers. But when too many companies do layoffs, and workers can't find (well paid) jobs, each company suffers from less customers. However, note that there was a car economy before Ford, before "I want to build cars that my workers can afford". Cars were simply rese

      • Obviously, many companies on this planet are built for a market to service the needs of many of comparatively poor people. Its a classical tragedy of the commons problem: the individual company benefits from layoffs as it has to pay less to its workers. But when too many companies do layoffs, and workers can't find (well paid) jobs, each company suffers from less customers. However, note that there was a car economy before Ford, before "I want to build cars that my workers can afford". Cars were simply reserved for rich people. If the government doesn't intervene (I don't see any other entity with as much power here), we will revert to such a society.

        Problem is, overall there is less money, and the wealthy start to prey upon themselves, further reducing the amount of available money.

        That's why altogether too many people have this incredibly unsustainable idea that we need to make the majority of us as poor as possible.

        When in fact, we need as many people making as much as possible. The wealthier the lower and middle classes can be, the wealthier the higher classes can be. Simple math, because there is more economy to be tapped into. In the short

    • In the short term, you will be seeing people end up in massive debt as the problem gets ignored until we hit a point where too many are on the streets and probably protesting at best, looting and rioting at worst. Then when it can no longer be ignored that's when how the economy works will have to be reconsidered/reformed and things for the people can start improving again.
      • In the short term, you will be seeing people end up in massive debt as the problem gets ignored until we hit a point...

        We already had that in the early 2000's, when people tried to live in debt forever. Several CC'c all maxed out, multiply refied houses - my sister in law refied her place so many times that even though she bought a house 10 years before us, by the time we had ours paid off in 15 years, she still had 30 years to go. And yeah, she went Bankrupt. Hopefully that won't happen again. But it will.

    • How to get there (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'll ask this question, which has come up before: If nobody has a job, then where the [bad language redacted] will they find CUSTOMERS?

      It's well known by just about anyone who looks that our current economic system is not tenable going forward. In the extreme limit, we can imagine all human needs produced by automated systems, with no human interaction required.

      We're closer to this than you might think. Automated farming is almost available now, automated delivery (self-driving trucks) is almost here, and automated last-mile delivery by drone is almost here. A largely automated solar cell factory could produce more solar cells than it need

    • by ranton ( 36917 )

      I'll ask this question, which has come up before: If nobody has a job, then where the [bad language redacted] will they find CUSTOMERS?

      That is not the job of individual companies. Their job is to compete with other companies to provide goods and services. This study makes a good argument that corporate leaders should put more value on their human resources, but not for some lofty goals like improving society. It is because doing so will improve their company.

      It is the job of society, aka government, to improve how corporate well being affects societal well being. Corporations simply live within the regulatory world created by society and w

    • The people cheerleading the current direction of things believe that the 1% can demand enough goods and services to provide employment for the rest of us. Building pyramids in their honor or something, I don't know.

      I'm not sure which is worse, if they turn out to be right or if they turn out to be wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2016 @03:28PM (#53426785)

    Seriously, if people are "irrelevant" so are your people centric businesses! Robots don't need Tide detergent, Kellogs corn flakes, Michael Bay movies, or Samsung TV's. Who the hell do they think their customers are going to be and with what money do they imagine these customers will be buying their stuff?

    • Mod parent up. This is the limiting case we're heading for. Not everyone can design robots, or fix them, or be trained to, and we really don't have any smart ways of paying people who can't to just sit around and stay out of trouble, and even if we did...that money would come from...those same corps and people still creating value. They don't win in the long run without a complete re-think of how things are done. And this is from a card-carrying super-capitalist.
    • The CEOs are considering today instead of tomorrow. And they are in competition with all the other CEOs who are doing the same thing. This isn't an omnipresent cabal who universally dictates a single economy. They know there are customers today to buy their items, and they know if they aren't the company providing those items made by robots then someone else will.

      Putting your faith in companies to manage the global economy is bad. Those companies are selfish and over-focused. This is exactly why governmen
    • Seriously, if people are "irrelevant" so are your people centric businesses! Robots don't need Tide detergent, Kellogs corn flakes, Michael Bay movies, or Samsung TV's. Who the hell do they think their customers are going to be and with what money do they imagine these customers will be buying their stuff?

      Not just that, if they are gonna automate everything, then either they come up w/ a mechanism to provide free money to people i.e. not a loan, never have to pay back..., or be prepared for horrible performances quarter after quarter

      Honestly, I wish CEO and CFO jobs could be automated as well. After all, how much of human intelligence does it take to crunch numbers in pivot tables? I know that finance departments like it when jobs are downsized, but then, they should be prepared to sacrifice their

    • They have fewer customers than MIcrosoft but are much, much more profitable. You can do just fine thank you selling a $2000 PC instead of a $500 one.

      And the ruling calss don't need customers when they can claim everything for themselves. The 99% will fall over themselves backward to get a piece of the scraps. They'll be the new kings, deciding who lives and who dies based on who gets to work for them (and who gets food, shelter, health care, etc). And they'll have an automated military to enforce their
  • Does not compute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by codeButcher ( 223668 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @03:31PM (#53426803)
    If AI makes people obsolete, who will those companies peddle their wares to, and obtain income from? The Martians?
    • Racist! Martians are people too!

    • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @03:44PM (#53426929) Journal

      If AI makes people obsolete, who will those companies peddle their wares to, and obtain income from? The Martians?

      Let's be optimistic for a second. If robots and AI take over more and more of the jobs that humans used to do, then the products those jobs produce will decrease in price. Perhaps they'll decrease to the point where they cost little or nothing. And then we may be in a Star Trek TNG society where money doesn't exist, because duh, nobody needs to buy anything.

      I admit the above may be unlikely. But for discussion, consider it as a possibility.

    • If AI makes people obsolete, who will those companies peddle their wares to, and obtain income from?

      Here's an even better question, given the headline: If CEO's believe AI makes people irrelevant, does that imply AI will make CEOs obsolete too? (Setting aside the obvious quip that "CEO aren't really people.")

      Given that there are various studies over the years showing that CEOs don't necessarily provide significant benefits to corporations (e.g., studies have shown that CEO pay does not correlate well with company performance [forbes.com], past CEO performance does not correlate well with future results, etc., to t

  • a new global study has revealed that the many CEOs now value technology over people when it comes to the future of their businesses

    They're now in the process of figuring out how to program an AI to buy their products.

    Personally, I'm betting that we'll soon hear about a Guaranteed Minimum Income for robots.

  • Which ironically means a bias away from bullshit concepts like "tangibility bias" created by business consultants.
  • Technology will just reinforce their current belief...gotcha.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @03:39PM (#53426877)

    "...a new global study has revealed that the many CEOs now value technology over people when it comes to the future of their businesses."

    Translation: A new global study has revealed that the many CEOs are as fucking greedy as they ever were, and will stop at nothing to increase their wealth by reducing expenses.

    Like we needed a study to prove that shit. Spank you Helpy Helperton for pointing out the obvious.

    Ironically, another study will come along showing that humans holding the prestigious rank of CEO find themselves invaluable as compared to the technology that could be used to replace them and their inflated self-valuation.

    • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @04:00PM (#53427075) Homepage Journal

      Money: irrelevant.

      Wage inequality: you work and make $20/hr. They work and make $10/hr. Your 1 hour of work lets you induce them to work for 2 hours.

      Technology: It takes 100 hours of human time to make a thing you buy. It costs 50 hours of your work ($1,000) because cheap labor makes it. We found a way to make it in 50 human hours (technology), so now it costs 25 hours of your work ($500).

      Markets in long term: You're now spending 25 hours of your labor to buy what 50 hours once bought. You have 25 hours's worth of your labor ($500) unspent. You buy some other thing.

      In other words: "technology" has been happening since humans sharpened a stick into a spear--or, hell, since humans learned to hunt effectively in groups instead of ineffectively alone. The whole point of technology is to reduce the number of labor-hours to make something so you pay fewer peoples's wages for that thing. That's how food went from 40% of the median income in 1900 to 33% in 1950, to 12% today. (Clothing dropping by trade was largely wage inequality, but China has improved its manufacturing processes sufficient to push the prices even lower while their workers's standard-of-living increases.)

      Remember: wages are paid by revenue. You pay people's salary. Businesses only transfer that revenue around to carry out the transactions between you, workers, other businesses, and management chains. Even business itself is an organizational structure composed of management chains whose entire purpose is to make stuff happen with less labor--because self-organized laborers would be inefficient and everything they make would be expensive as all hell (it's called "artisan", "small-batch", or "hand-made" in general; but more importantly, logistics and business process management eliminate a lot of time costs).

      The important point is rate. If you unemploy 50% of your labor force in a year, your economy crashes; if you do it over a decade or so, you end up with an extremely wealthy middle-class which somehow still complains that all the wealth is going elsewhere even while their internet becomes 1,500 times faster, cell phones become available, smart phones become available, more and better healthcare becomes available, clothing gets cheaper, food gets cheaper, they start living in much larger houses to store all the crap (read: luxuries) they're buying, more and more money goes to video games and home theaters, and in general every standard-of-living goes up and up without end.

      Apparently, economists have fucked up so bad that they adjust median income for inflation to cite "real" median income, which might actually make it mathematically-impossible to demonstrate a large deviation in median income. When you see GDP-per-capita, that tells you what the per-capita income can buy. So when you see $49K median income becomes $52K median income in 15 years, but $31k GDP-per-capita becomes $57k, what actually happened is people who were making $49k were able to buy what $33k buys now, and people today can buy what $52k buys now.

      In other words: the numbers don't make any god damned sense at a glance. "Real incomes" aren't buying power. Buying power income is a complex calculation.

  • FTS: "... 44 percent of the CEOs surveyed agreed that robotics, automation and AI would reshape the future of many work places by making people "largely irrelevant."

    Well, you flaming fucktards, when they become largely irrelevant as your employees, then they will also become largely irrelevant as your customers. Then who's going to buy all that shit you sell? And if you're counting on sales from the rest of your point-one-percenter circle jerk, you'd best remember that there will ultimately be a similar poi

  • So if workers are largely irrelevant then very few people will have job or an income..

    Who will they sell their products and services to in a world that has a 90% unemployment rate?

  • Because 9 out of 10 CEO decisions could already be done sufficiently well by a Magic 8 Ball. With some improvement in AI design, the 10th is just a matter of time.

    And AIs are way cheaper than any CEOs.

  • If a company gets to the size where the term CEO is meaningful (and it isn't some applied to a start up of five guys) then what do they do that software can't do?

  • by Pezbian ( 1641885 ) on Monday December 05, 2016 @04:00PM (#53427077)

    Pay people to serve in a real life version of Starfleet?

    Go away for a some number of years and when you come back, you're guaranteed whatever luxury income for life. Space is risky now and will be for quite some time so maybe have it like 5 years for full retirement.

    Maybe the ability to have children will be shut off by default from birth by some genetic engineering thing and switched on via some other means after passing a kind of character credit check that's easier to pass if you served in this hypothectical "Starfleet" due to the nature of it.

    Today, not everybody gets to be an Astronaut. Tomorrow, not everybody gets to be a parent.

    Eventually, maybe Earth will only be home to those who don't have "the right stuff" for space travel and they can live as they please.

    The Homo genus eventually gains a new species. Homo Stellaris?

  • This is the big issue that the current economical model is promoting, the bottom line is more important than society as a whole. The CEOs have been brainwashed to value money over people.
  • If you put a huge percentage of the citizens of the U.S. (or any industrialized country) out of work permanently, there will be violence over it. You can't just disregard people like they're trash tossed into the bin. Before anyone says it: UBI will not work.
  • as often as these guys are wrong, why do we listen to them?
  • The "traditional" way economists think about automation is that it frees up people to work on other tasks and services that others want.

    And I'm not entirely sure we have reached or approached some "automation singularity" where this pattern is no longer true. There still a lot of manual or semi-manual tasks and services I'd like as a consumer if I had the money and/or time: our needs and wants are almost infinite. For example, there's a lot of half-broken stuff around our house that I either don't know how

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