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Rise of the machines

As a young man born in and living in Pretoria South Africa, multi-billionaire Elon Musk – better known for pioneering the Tesla battery-operated motor concept – was shunned by the Industrial Development Corporation several times.

His innovative ideas were denied financial backing so he moved to the USA for better support. The rest as we all know is history.

The futuristic thinker, however, took a rather skeptical and worrisome handbrake-turn when it came to the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) and its benefits to society.

When a man like that with so much insight into technology warns of its potentially harming effects, it warrants notice. Musk warned that its use could foster ‘the coming of third world war’. We have to for such reasons,  delve a little deeper into the topic.

We have rapidly progressed from longer periods of stone, iron, industrial, to that of space, technological/information ages. The world is now apparently fused between the latter three.

Despite skipping a few ‘crucial’ stages, we have now surged into the age of digital automation. This is while sadly still dealing with the ravages of poverty, disease, and irreversible damage to our environment.

Automation & AI usage

Automation is helping business through software like ERPs that take over traditional back-office finance and operations.

In the IT industry, the Internet of things (IoT), cloud services, and general Software as a Service (SaaS) have simplified things for IT managers. You can now just monitor and attend to more pertinent issues and tasks (hopefully not just stream movies and play games on duty).

While seated comfortably, you will be able to now perform tasks such as deploying new software, installing/removing updates on multiple machines/devices simultaneously. All with a push of a few buttons.

Trading bots

In the high-risk investment scene, automation has given traders more room for better research and analysis Thus relieving you from the known stresses and mundane tasks associated with trading.

For many trading houses and brokers, AI has even completely taken over the mundane task of making and executing trades.


If you haven’t already, read this great book entitled: The Fear Index (thriller by Robert Harris). Though fiction, it illustrates the use of a machine learning tool using algorithms to help a hedge fund company generate billions for its investors.

The use of AI is not without fault. It can also lead to costly system-generated errors like the trading error a few years at Goldman Sachs cost the firm $100 million and other cases.

Other use cases

It can still, on a ‘micro’ level, help free human capital (individuals) from PC-related issues. So things like having stress, headaches, backaches, and lack of time spent with family and friends can be a thing of the past.

In the industrial and manufacturing sectors, the advent of AI creates even more of a fear and a concern. The number (staffing) of redundancies, may increase when it is introduced.

This would require careful planning to ensure the blue-collars that are ‘replaced’, are compensated. More so, they would need to be incorporated into different areas of businesses.

Limits of robotics

Obviously, not every task need to be automated or performed by robots. We (as humans) are still required to check-up, inspect, and perform quality checks for instance.
We can, as a result, deal with inter-personal jobs that require more empathy like in customer and social service.

Human resources or getting into corporate social responsibility (CSI) projects that reach out to communities.

Embracing it

More importantly, policies by governments will need to focus ever so more on job-creation. Governments must now adopt innovative means of creating jobs or foster and supporting entrepreneurship. Projects like those of Mr. Tesla/Mr. PayPal/Mr. SpaceX has created thousands of new jobs.

As for the use of AI in weaponry and military defense systems, the less said the better. When it comes to privacy and security concerns we can only hope that rogue politicians don’t get unregulated access to such technology. In such a case we would only be able to protest and hope not to feature in a real-life James Cameron sequel to Judgment Day.

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