Internet giants like Google’s Waymo, Uber, and Amazon as well as fast-growing disrupters like Tesla keep grabbing all the headlines on autonomous vehicles, commercial drones, or other advances in AI-powered industrial automation. But the authors of a new book, What To Do When Machines Do Everything? argue that we should not discount the chances that industrial incumbents such as GE or Siemens, or automotive stalwarts like BMW or Mercedes, might actually win the key battles against powerful and richly-funded tech AI companies due to their superior knowhow in critical areas.
Technological advances have been credited with accelerating the pace of globalization. Unfortunately, globalization – including multi-national initiatives such as the EU single market – has unwittingly caused casualties among middle and working class people around the world due to widespread outsourcing, offshoring, and the easing of border security in the case of the EU. The crisis of middle east migrants into Europe has not made things easier, and the repeated domestic and international terrorist attacks of the past several months have made things worse. These factors help to explain the Trump phenomenon in the U.S., the recent Brexit vote in Europe, and the surge of far-right movements in France, Austria, the Netherlands and other EU countries against immigration, international trade agreements, and dramatic income inequality. Coming full circle, tech companies cannot afford any longer to ignore their role in addressing these issues if they are to avoid being scapegoated sooner or later by enraged citizens manipulated by cynical political leaders.