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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Global Times, May 31, 2017
 

In 2013 Carl Frey and Michael Osborne, researchers at Oxford University, predicted that robots would take over nearly half of US jobs. Their finding has been supported in principle by the McKinsey Global Institute, but they say it will take ages, though the near-term effect will be to beneficially transform work. I broadly concur with the institute, and suggest that an open, informed discussion of the effects of robotization should be at the forefront of all governments' agendas. The nature of globalization, demographics, and how a nation's elderly population can be supported are to be discussed when more than 400 delegates gather in Cascais, Portugal for the Horasis Global Meeting over the weekend.

Robotization was discussed in this meeting as one solution for the long term, and it was of particular interest to Chinese delegates as they have just heard that Moody's Investors Service has downgraded China's credit rating for the first time in almost 30 years. Moody's cited China's falling financial strength as its growth slows. Robots in the future will be able to perform tasks as broad as offering social support to the ill, as well as performing surgical procedures guided by a remote specialist: In fact, few tasks are immune from robotic support. Thus I suggest that robotization will have future wide-spread economic benefits based on three inter-connected present-day observations.

First, US President Donald Trump is attempting to renegotiate many US laws; one concerns Corporate Tax. In essence he alleges that too many US firms have profits totaling $2.5 trillion hidden overseas to avoid US tax. He wishes to allow the repatriation of this wealth so the US will gain tax income. If the reform is sensitive, firms will gain additional freedom to reallocate cash, as well as utilize a huge amount of money hidden "under the mattress for a rainy day" located in the US itself. While the IMF notes global growth is resurgent it says the manufacturing and services base remains weak, with low total factor productivity (TFP). They suggest firms are retaining old machines and old-fashioned working methods.

My second consideration notes that the global population may grow to about 11 billion by the end of the century even though many nations have a falling birth rate. In many developed economies unemployment levels are falling below 5 percent - a figure accepted by economists as "full employment" though the details must be carefully considered. In this group are a few who choose not to work or are between jobs, and those who are physically and mentally incapacitated. With low TFP, firms cannot expand output without employing more people or re-engineering the work-place or employing robots.

Interwoven are populist demands in many nations: "Bring back our jobs [from overseas] and return them to our own people! Stop immigration!" This strident message does not heed demographers who tell us we need more immigrants to uphold our work force numbers to maintain the dependency ratio as our populations become more elderly. Globally there are too few suitably qualified migrants to slot into the vacant jobs in our nations. Thus employing more people seems a non-starter, and we must look to re-engineering the work-place and employing robots.

There is a resistance to re-engineering based on new machines as there are many cheap nearly-new machines in scrap-yards, and the current work-force will need little re-training to use them. But old machines remain inefficient - in human and mechanical terms, as they will not increase TFP. Nor would it allow for the dependency ratio to be raised enough to increase income tax and thus create more cash for social welfare schemes to support the elderly.

My third point arises from a re-evaluation of the global population. To raise TFP the working population has to work smarter and use robots. Just as workers used machines to augment their muscle power following the Industrial Revolution we must accept future electro or digital aid by robots. Modern Luddites worry that jobs will be taken away by robots. This is unlikely to be so.

Robotization will not occur overnight. This mode of employing robots will be a gradual process taking perhaps three to six generations: certainly the employment scene will be very different 60 years from now.

In conclusion, there is an imperative for all governments to engage their citizens in open and honest discussions about their demographic needs. What are the economic benefits of more or less immigration? What will occur if there are too few workers? And in much more visionary terms, what will occur when the migrant pool dries up? These are not easy questions to ask when faced with the daily tasks of governing, and when many governments have explicit restrictions on immigrant numbers, or who have promised their electorate to cut immigration. In truth, there are few mobile immigrants - the figure has been stable at about 3 percent of the global population for years, but many citizens are unduly frightened and they forget all nations were built upon immigrant stock.

 

The author is founder and chairman of Horasis, a Switzerland-based global visions community organization.

 


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