Insurance leaders warn of job-stealing robots

As the cost of advanced technologies comes down, the impact of technology destroying jobs will be greater, according to a new report

Insurance leaders warn of job-stealing robots

Insurance News

By Mina Martin

Insurance chiefs are among those gathered at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland this week who are calling for the collateral damage to jobs by technological advancements to be addressed more seriously.

While open markets and global trade have been held up as the villains in the job loss piece, risk experts such as Marsh’s head of global risk John Drzik said that in the last decade, more jobs had been lost to technology than any other factor.

Drzik, who helped compile the WEF annual risks report, said more of the same was expected.

He said: “That is going to raise challenges, particularly given the political context.”

Drzik’s warning was backed up by estimates made by US economists who said in the report that 86% of US manufacturing job losses were actually down to productivity.

Adidas was held up as an example, with its aim to use 3D printing in the manufacture of some of its running shoes.

Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, said: “Jobs will be lost, jobs will evolve and this revolution is going to be ageless, it’s going to be classless and it’s going to affect everyone.”

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The current political situation has indicated that Trump supporters hope his new policies will bring lost jobs back to America’s Rust Belt, or here in the UK with Brexit supporters hoping for a revival of Britain’s industrial north.

However, EY chairman Mark Weinberger said: “Technology is the big issue and we don’t acknowledge that,” adding that there was a tendency to always blame trading partners.

Fixing it was another challenge too.

Compared to clamping down on immigration by tightening borders, dealing with the impact of technology destroying jobs was something that was even less easily controlled, the report in the Daily Mail said.

This would accelerate as the costs of advanced technologies inevitably came down.

CEO of staffing firm Manpower Group, Jonas Prising, said banning automation was not really part of the discussion.

In 2015, Forrester Research predicted that by 2019, one quarter of all job tasks would be offloaded to software robots, physical robots, or customer self-service automation, with even the corner office not being safe.

Lloyd’s of London CEO Inga Beale said she wasn’t worried – yet.

“CEO’s feel reasonably confident we are not going to be replaced by artificial intelligence,” she said. “But I’m sure there will be a time!”

Related stories:
The robots have landed in insurance
Japanese life insurer to replace staff with AI system

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