Hosted by Deloitte Digital on 30th March 2016

Robotics is beginning to influence many jobs, from manufacturing to agriculture, and retail to services. According to the International Federation of Robotics, the world now includes 1.1 million working robots, and machines account for 80% of the work in manufacturing a car.

The positive impacts are that robots are streamlining supply chains to deliver more efficient and predictable business results. However what implications do robots have for jobs? How accountable are they and could they be easily hacked?

Speakers and panellists at this meeting will include representatives from Deloitte UK, IBM Watson, Vidrona and London Futurists.

 Speakers include:

Ash Natraj // CEO // Vidrona
Airborne drones are more complex than robots that move in two dimensions, and there’s a steep learning curve. But they’ll be an everyday sight before the end of the decade. The job now is to remove red tape, and ensure that the technology is used responsibly.

The renewable energy industry and agriculture are early adopters. Another is the insurance and financial sector, driven by the need for big data. In our business we’re collecting data for renewable energy to use with banking, with a view to building a commodities market.

Phil Westcott // European Ecosystem Leader // IBM
Cognitive technology allows you to pick up signals from social media or from news reports, with a timeliness that you couldn’t get as a human. That can help us make better decisions and choices.

The art is to make the interface between man and machine as elegant as possible. We’ll soon start to see natural discourse emerging as a way to interact with robots. In our work with a children’s hospital we’re seeing patients asking a computer questions they’re too embarrassed to ask a human.

Computer technology is a complement to the human being, not a competitor. You don’t need it to recreate imagination, entrepreneurship and problem solving – the things that humans are good at. You want a system that can scale and find patterns in big data, helping humans be more creative and more effective.

Angus Knowles-Cutler // Vice Chairman and London Senior Partner // Deloitte
A job that took twelve hours when I started my career thirty years ago now takes just forty minutes. But by taking over the boring and repetitive tasks in knowledge-based businesses, the technology frees up time for thinking.

Our research shows that technology has destroyed 800,000 jobs in the past fifteen years, but also that it has created three and a half million better paid jobs, in technology, creative industries, professional business services, also a lot of caring jobs.

But eleven million jobs are at high risk of being replaced by technology. Retail will be hard hit, losing over two million jobs; transport will lose one and a half million, hotel and catering a million.

The big trick is to work with the technology, rather than let ourselves be replaced by it. We need to know what skills, knowledge and abilities the UK workforce needs to produce in future.

David Wood // Chair // London Futurists
All jobs are at risk. But we should welcome losing our jobs, because ultimately we’d all like to spend more time doing the things we love. That’s going to be a huge change in our culture.

I disagree that intuition and emotional intelligence are far beyond the capabilities of software. The Deep Mind software that won at playing Go learns by spotting patterns. That constitutes general intelligence, unlike earlier software that won at chess simply by the power of calculation.

Instead of fighting robot intelligence we have to work out how to work alongside it. The role of AI will be to analyse and filter, while humans will decide what is most significant. The software will quickly learn from the choices that humans make, and we need to be agile to cope with that.

Growing numbers of people are thinking about the human, philosophical and ethical questions. We need to work out the safety aspects of these technologies.