04 Oct 2016
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Unemployment in tech the equivalent to 'economic climate change', says expert

By Sam Worthington

Singularity University’s mission is to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges.

This November, its SingularityU New Zealand Summit will give this part of the world the opportunity to talk about how we can adapt to accelerating technologies and make a positive impact on the future.

Kathryn Myronuk, chair of Synthesis and Convergence Emeritus at Singularity University, is a leading expert on exponentially growing technologies and the complex factors affecting the future jobs and technological unemployment.

She says automation and the associated threat to certain types of jobs is a kind of ‘economic climate change’.

“With global warming, maybe you get to grow more cabbages and carrots in Greenland, which is nice for the 20,000 people who live there. But the tens of millions of people who live in areas that are highly susceptible to flooding are going to suffer,” she says.

“The massive shifts we’re going to see in employment are similar – some groups will do really well, while many will struggle through the transition.”

A keynote speaker at the SingularityU NZ Summit, Myronuk says the rapidly evolving nature of technology brings potential problems as well as potential solutions.

“Rapid growth means older technologies are now becoming widespread and accessible. Several decades ago only a few people had computers, but now most people have one in the form of a laptop, tablet or phone in their handbag,” she explains.

The summit is being held in Christchurch and will see topics like the rise of the machines being covered – which may sound crazy, but is highly relevant.

Grand Robertson, Labour finance spokesman recently quoted figures saying that up to 46% of today’s jobs may not exist in 20 years. There are already self-driving cars and self-checkouts, so maybe the idea isn’t  all that far-fetched. 

The three day summit is an opportunity to explore these ideas and gain insight into the technologically-driven revolution that is currently happening. 

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