Alibaba founder, Jack Ma warns we need to be ready for the rise in automation in the manufacturing industry. Speaking at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City on Wednesday Ma said we can no longer rely on the manufacturing industry to provide jobs.
"In the last 200 years, manufacturing [has brought] jobs. But today -- because of the artificial intelligence, because of the robots -- manufacturing is no longer the main engine of creating jobs."
'Made in Internet'
Instead of training young employees in manufacturing skills they need to be looking to the service industry, which Ma predicts will be the largest employer in the decades to come. In direct opposition to Trump's return to a world where people will seek out good with a “made in America” label, Ma says we will come to know goods as 'made in Internet'. He clarifies, explaining, "Talking about manufacturing, we should not be talking Made in China, Made in America. It's going to be 'Made in Internet.'"
Ma goes on in his speech to promote a new way of educating children. He believes the emphasis should not be on making sure they can accurately calculate equations as machines will always be better at that. But rather children should be schooled in pushing their imaginations that will open the way for a future world designed by humans and built by robots. "We have to teach our kids to be very, very innovative, very creative," he said. "In this way, we can create jobs for our own kids." Ma is also a fan of Artificial Intelligence (AI), acknowledging that while it will take over many traditional manufacturing jobs it will also provide opportunities for humans to create new and more exciting jobs.
In his wide-ranging speech, Ma also suggested we shouldn’t be fearful of a machine versus human war. He believes that the future robots will never have the emotional capabilities that humans enjoy and so humans will also have an advantage over any new machines created. This is an opinion in contrast to the widely publicized views of Elon Musk and other leaders in the AI field who want to have tighter regulation around AI creation that would mitigate the risk of someone building killer robots.
Ma ended his speech on an optimistic note, saying, "I'm optimistic -- positive -- for the future for the technology. But we also have to be very, very careful. The first technology revolution caused World War I. Second technology revolution caused World War II. Now, we're in the third technology revolution. The World War III should be against poverty, disease and environment pollutions."
Jack Ma is one of the richest men in China. He created the Chinese equivalent of Amazon, Alibaba. Alibaba began in 1999 as a Business to Business trading site but has since grown to include Business to Customer functionality too. Producers outside of the People's Republic of China are able to access the site but most of the suppliers are still within the company's country of origin. Jack Ma is estimated to be worth approximately 38.8 billion USD.