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Experts: AI and big data to create more job opportunities

By Ma Si in Boao,Hainan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-10 09:37
Dong Mingzhu, chairwoman of Chinese home appliance maker Gree Electric Appliances, speaks at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in Boao, South China's Hainan province, on April 9, 2018. [Photo/China Daily]

More efforts are needed to cultivate high-tech talents for the manufacturing sector, as artificial intelligence and big data technologies make factories smarter and more automated, senior company executives said at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2018 on Monday.

Dong Mingzhu, chairwoman of Chinese home appliances maker Gree Electric Appliances, said automation does not mean fewer job opportunities for employees and companies should not simply lay off workers.

"Instead, the trend reflects a new pattern in cultivating manufacturing talents. In the past, we needed technical workers who excelled in fastening screws. But now we desire talents who are quicker learners," Dong said.

"We should not be scared of a smarter era. We should be proud of it and step up efforts to nurture talents that can control machines," Dong added.

Currently, Gree has eight production bases in China, most of which are unmanned factories, and it also boasts about 12,000 employees working on product research and development, she added.

The comments come as global companies are scrambling to embrace technologies to upgrade their factories and to boost manufacturing efficiencies, which has triggered fears of fewer jobs for human workers.

Richard Bailey, president of the Asia-Pacific and Japan Region for the United States tech company HP, said in the future, productivity will be driven by AI, 3D printing, big data and other technologies, with different jobs created for a wide range of industries.

But the change will take time, and there is room for governments and companies to prepare in advance to cope with these challenges, Bailey added.

The view is echoed by Allan Gabor, the Managing Director of Merck Holding (China) Co Ltd. He believes that the solution to the likely displacement of jobs is to train people collectively on a massive scale to ensure that employees can be fully groomed, so as to pounce on new opportunities.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring new challenges, but people can adapt to the quickly changing landscape. More measures need to be taken to help employees embrace new technologies and upgrade themselves into more advanced skills owners, Gabor added.

Technologies can be inclusive and not leave people behind, he added.

Yuan Hui, founder of Chinese robotics company Xiaoi Robot, said technological transformation will not lead to unemployment. Instead, it will motivate people to move to more skillful and high-value-added jobs.

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