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Digital Jobs

eBay’s Devin Wenig on Tech’s Destruction … and Humanism

"While tech is sometimes thought of as a sector or a niche, it's increasingly clear that tech is the economy and tech is the transformative force," says Devin Wenig, president of eBay's global e-commerce business. As tech reinvents industries, jobs, and processes, and changes how people work and act, companies that want to succeed must learn to accept creative destruction. "Any time you go through a disruption, you end up with winners and losers," said Wenig, who joined us at a Techonomy dinner salon in San Francisco. "But I do believe it's a positive-sum game," he added. And he says that in this game, humans, not just machines, are winning. "I don't think the world coming is all full of drones and robots.... It can be amazingly humanistic," Wenig said.   More

Business

Could We Lose Control of Killer Robots?

The belief that humanoid robots are dangerous on the battlefield and need to be slowed before weapons systems become autonomous is at the heart of a debate raging in the robotic engineering community. On one side, there are people who believe that the use of unmanned robots must be stopped before war becomes an automated process. "Giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield would take technology too far,” Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch, said in a November 2012 statement announcing the release of a study, “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots."   More

Digital E-Commerce

Gift Guide for a Techonomic Holiday

Unless you manage somehow to live off the grid (in which case you probably don't read articles at Techonomy) you are no doubt getting inundated with holiday promotions, news about Black Friday, and reminders of your gift history from any website where you ever bought anything. All of these signs point to a central conclusion: it’s time for the second annual Techonomy holiday gift guide! Our wishlist should appeal to those in your life who value science and technology, sustainable living, or just cool stuff.   More

Manufacturing

Can Robots Be Job Creators?

In their recent comments on "60 Minutes," and at the Techonomy 2012 conference, MIT economists Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfssonn may have given the impression that robots are poised to swipe the jobs of U.S. workers. As reported in The New York Times, robotics experts assembled at the Automate 2013 trade show in Chicago offered a different outlook. Henrik I. Christensen, Chair of Robotics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said that while he agrees that automation could make certain types of jobs obsolete, it will also create new, higher-paying jobs. The International Federation of Robotics reinforced this argument with the release of findings from a report that predicts the robotics industry will help create 1.9 million to 3.5 million jobs by 2020.   More

Manufacturing Video

Why Robots Might Boost Industry While Killing Jobs

Globalization is an easy culprit for the recent wave of U.S. unemployment, with domestic jobs shipped overseas to be replaced by cheap labor, often without adverse impact on the quality of a company's products or services. Apple is just one high-profile example of this trend. But automation and robotics may be contributing even more to our stubborn unemployment figures. Paradoxically, robots could also help bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. The Jan. 13 broadcast of 60 Minutes featured several Techonomists to help explain how this might happen.   More

Jobs Manufacturing

Skills Don’t Pay the Bills

What is the biggest threat to jobs in American manufacturing: robots or a skills gap? Many manufacturing jobs are vanishing because of computer-driven machinery, as discussed at Techonomy 2012, and nearly as many jobs have been outsourced. Thus, the industry’s future seems to lie in a new generation of highly skilled manufacturing employees who can run the computer that runs the machine. This means they must have a basic understanding of metallurgy, physics, chemistry, pneumatics, electrical wiring, and computer code.Some say there’s a skills gap, and employees with the right training simply do not exist. But that may not be the whole problem.   More