The Bezos view: automation won’t put people out of work
Jeff Bezos, the founder and head honcho of ecommerce titan Amazon, has strong views on the future of work: robots won’t replace us, and automation will make the working world better. At a benefit for the science and tech non-profit FIRST, Bezos detailed his unique perspective on the future. He’s a man worth listening too: Amazon is a major player in making that future a reality. It’s the market leader in cloud computing, and has a 10,000-strong team working on its own artificial intelligence, virtual personal assistant Alexa.
Amazon’s share price rose 8% over the last five days, reversing a post-earnings decline in October
Source: Yahoo Finance
Bezos explained his view during a ‘fireside chat’ with noted American writer and intellectual Walter Isaacson. He told listeners: “It’s in my view very unlikely that machine intelligence and artificial intelligence will make humans have no jobs. Every piece of productivity increases our wealth as a society, and increases the jobs, and makes the jobs more interesting and higher quality.” He illustrated his point succinctly, adding: “We could have a lot of employment by getting rid of bulldozers. You could get rid of the shovels and force people to dig with teaspoons. This would not make our society wealthier.”
Detailing his own view of the future, Bezos lamented that people were “so bad” at predicting the evolution of the labour market: “A hundred years ago, if I said to you, ‘In the 21st century there’s going to be an occupation called massage therapist,’ you’d have laughed at me.” Jokes aside, though, Bezos is not leaving the future to chance.
He told listeners that FIRST was helping to provide youngsters with the tools necessary to face the future, letting them “learn to learn”. Amazon is also playing its part. Bezos said: “the first thing we’re doing is we are funding a game that is going to teach people how to code.” The second and third things are funding computer science classes in 2,000 lower-income communities, and offering 100 four-year college scholarships that lead directly to an Amazon internship.
Amazon’s plans for the future of work represent a bold step in keeping Americans competitive in the labour market. They’re also a sure-fire way of guaranteeing that tomorrow’s top-talent will be working at Amazon.
Dominion holds Amazon in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.
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