Automation

5 new jobs of the robot generation

Above: Bots and humans need each other. Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/Zsolt Biczo

Embrace it and get used to it, as AI is here to stay.

While some robots may be out to take our jobs, there’s a big skills gap in the AI-fueled services industry just waiting to be filled

There will be two major drivers around the jobs of the future. The first will be what can be automated, and the second will be what level of comfort do we have for things being automated.

However, far from the widespread fear that automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will make human workers redundant, it seems people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of automation and AI in the workplace every day. Recent research conducted by Adecco Group reveals that many employees feel AI will have a positive impact in creating a future workplace with a myriad of opportunities for more flexible, rewarding work.

So if our current roles in the workplace are set to be replaced, what will we be doing instead? Here are five new jobs that are likely to see the light as a result of AI:

1. Robot Teacher

Robots are to be deployed everywhere from the classroom to hospitals, but who will ‘teach’ this new wave of bots the skills they are meant to apply so effortlessly, and, more importantly, who will teach robots how to teach each other so that AI can continue to scale? While robotic programming automation (RPA) requires an intensive focus on programming repeatable tasks, AI is here to provide structured outputs from unstructured inputs. Teacher training is about to take on a whole new meaning.

2. AI Lawyer

In the UK and Europe, regulations are being drafted to govern the use and creation of robots and AI. This includes an ‘electronic personhood’ status assigned to address the rights and responsibilities, and indeed all acts carried out by AI-programmed robots. What does it mean? Well, in short it means that governments are waking up to the fact that AIs can cause real damage to people. It also means that robots, along with their…

How Automation has Helped Me Reduce Debt and Save

Readers often e-mail me for tips on how to keep their finances manageable. There are so many options out there that it can be overwhelming. I was speaking with my mom about this some time ago, and she felt the same way.

My mom has been responsible with her money over the years, but she felt that she could be doing better. After chatting with her, we decided that she should switch banks and automate some of her bills. It would free up some of her time and take a few things off of the to-do list… wins all around. I was talking with her the other week, after she had implemented the new system, and she said she’s really happy with her decision. She has saved both time and money with her new bank and online bill pay.

Why do I love automating my finances? Well, why wouldn’t I? Automating your finances can be a wonderful process, if done correctly. For one thing, it puts me in control of my bills without having to deal with paper, stamps, envelopes, and checks. But there are plenty of other reasons to love automating my finances, too. Here are my favorites.

I don’t pay late fees

I used to occasionally lose bills or forgot to send checks whenever I had a very busy week. Late fees definitely add up, and can be as high as $29 to $39 for credit cards! Sometimes I can pay my credit card accounts online for a same-day payment, but if I’m a day late, I may still get a fee imposed.

With online bill pay, you don’t have to worry about late fees because your bills will get paid on time every month, without any added work on your end. We’ll talk more below about different options for setting up automatic bill pay. But for now, just know that in exchange for a little effort up front, you can reap the benefits of avoiding late payments… forever.

Late payments don’t hurt my credit score

Getting rid of late payments isn’t just good for saving money by avoiding late fees. It also helps keep my credit score high. Payment history makes up the lion’s share of most credit scoring algorithms, and even a single late payment can quickly tank an otherwise excellent credit score.

Again, there are several options available for automating payments. But any of these options can keep you from having late payments recorded on your credit file, which helps you build your credit score or keep it high.

Resource: How to Check Your Credit for Free (and Avoid the Scams Out There)

I’m saving money, and I barely notice

In the past, I would save money for a few weeks and then have an emergency. After getting through the trouble, I’d neglect to re-start my savings. This cycle would repeat over and over. I felt like I couldn’t possibly save more money without cutting my budget to the bone.

How did I fix this issue? Automation, of course!

Now, I have a portion of my pay automatically transferred to a high-yield savings account each time my check hits my account. The trick to making this work is to make sure the transfer happens before you can even check your account balance on payday. It’s hard to miss money that you never had a chance to see!

But don’t be a hero. Start out with just a small…

AI Weekly: Microsoft chases Amazon, Toyota taps Nvidia, humans brace for dystopia

Here’s this week’s newsletter:

This week, Amazon and Microsoft launched new attacks in the intelligent assistant wars.

On Tuesday, Amazon added a touchscreen to its Echo device and introduced calls and messaging. (This Sunday, don’t forget to say, “Alexa, call Mom.”)

And yesterday at the Build conference, Microsoft upped its ante by releasing a Cortana Skills Kit for developers and launching 26 new voice apps. Despite these salvos, as our Khari Johnson writes, Google Assistant has more than 230 actions from third-party developers. Amazon, which opened its Alexa Skills Kit to developers back in 2015, passed 10,000 skills three months ago.

Microsoft has some catching up to do.

Meanwhile, those who fear an AI-powered future may see these developments as more evidence that tech companies are like children playing catch with knives. Stephen Wolfram of Wolfram Research and Irwin Gotlieb of GroupM confronted the utopian and dystopian views of this issue at Collision 2017. Even as he welcomes technological advancements, Gotlieb warned, “There’s a little voice in the back of my head that’s saying the dystopian outcome is perhaps more likely.” (Watch the video below.)

For AI coverage, send news tips to Khari Johnson and guest post submissions to John Brandon. Please be sure to visit our AI Channel.

Thanks for reading,
Blaise Zerega
Editor in Chief

P.S. Please enjoy this video from Collision, “Is there a future for humans?”

From the AI Channel

Lurking beneath the fear of artificial intelligence and automation threatening people’s jobs lies a deeper, far more profound threat. Do artificial intelligence and automation imperil humanity itself? Those predicting a dystopian future include Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and many others. For some of them, it’s only a matter of time before the prophecy of Yuval Noah Harari’s […]

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced that Toyota will use Nvidia’s Drive PX supercomputers for autonomous vehicles. Those cars will debut in the market in the next few years, Huang said. The Drive PX uses a…

Nvidia CEO: ‘AI is going to infuse all of software’

Jen-Hsun Huang is a big fan of artificial intelligence, as it helps his company Nvidia sell a lot more AI chips.

In an earnings call yesterday, the CEO responded to a question by saying, “AI is going to infuse all of software.” He’ll talk more about this topic today at the Nvidia GPU Tech conference in San Jose, Calif., where he is delivering a keynote speech. The event draws about 7,000 people, many for talks on AI. Nvidia also said yesterday it plans to train 100,000 developers this year on deep learning technology, which is one form of AI that is delivering rapid advances across a variety of industries.

Huang wasn’t the only one singing AI’s praises during the call.

“AI has quickly emerged as the single most powerful source of technology,” said Colette Kress, chief financial officer at Nvidia, during the call. “And at the center of AI are Nvidia GPUs.”

Above: Nvidia Metropolis will use video analytics to monitor public safety.

Image Credit: Nvidia

Here’s what Huang had to say during the conference call.

First of all, AI…

This Is How Mark Cuban Thinks Humans Could Trump The Rise Of Automation

Apple Could Sink $1B Into Softbank’s Mega Tech Fund

More and more people’s jobs are coming under attack from machine-learning, artificially-intelligent robots. That much is clear, at least based on a growing number of business leaders, labor experts, and tech industry insiders ringing bells to let workers and companies know they had better be prepared for a more-automated world of work. Mark Cuban is among them—and he has an idea about how to get ahead of what is coming.

The billionaire owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks and investor on the ABC reality television series Shark Tank has recently been talking up what he sees in store for the human workforce as the automated workforce takes on an increasing number of tasks. Cuban figures that complicated-but-routine jobs are as much at risk as low-skills jobs. That includes jobs in now-popular fields, such as analytics, in which “you just take the data, have it spit out whatever you need.”

The way Cuban sees it, it is only a matter of time before this transformation completely takes place. One of his concerns is that not enough people perceive the extent and speed that this technological change is having on the ways we work. He includes President Donald Trump in that group, along with executives at major companies who influence job creation and manufacturing policy. The bottom line, according to Cuban, is that companies will be building more facilities and getting more work done with automation, yet may end up employing fewer people.

Dallas Mavericks team owner Mark Cuban reacts from his seat during the second half of an NBA basketball game. (Photo credit: Carlos Osorio/AP)

Whether this shift ultimately amounts more to machines displacing humans than replacing them, the reality is that staying in the workforce will mean finding ways to adapt to a world increasingly made up of new and different man-machine combinations. But getting people already in the workforce to adapt to…

How to Automate Your Coffee Maker

Is making coffee slowing you down in the morning? Even in today’s drip-machine world, is pouring dust into a cup still just too darn hard during your 6AM haze? Here are several ways you can automate your coffee maker, so it’s ready for you in the morning with minimal interaction.

Keep in mind that you can’t have the coffee-making experience be 100% automated, since there are still some things that have to remain manual—even if it’s just making sure you place a coffee cup underneath the dispenser. However, there are a few different things you can add to the experience that will at least partially automate the process.

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Use a Programmable Coffee Maker

You might already have one of these in the first place, but the most basic form of coffee-making automation is the good ol’ programmable coffee maker.

It’s the least “smart” way to automate the coffee making process, but it’s by far the cheapest solution, since you can get a programmable coffee maker for as little as $20.

These coffee makers allow you to set a time that the coffee maker will automatically turn on and begin brewing coffee. So if you normally have your coffee around 7am, maybe program it to turn on at 6:50am or so.

Granted, you can’t control it remotely and it’s probably not the best solution for those who don’t have their coffee at the same time every morning. However, most people have a consistent morning routine, so a programmable coffee maker would be the best option there.

Plus, if your current coffee maker isn’t programmable and you don’t want to give it up, you could get a basic plug-in timer that will give you mostly the same features of a programmable model.

Use a Smart Outlet

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If you want more…

How To Apply The Right Automation And Reporting Tools To Your Business

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Palantir CEO Alex Karp Says Going Public Is ‘A Possibility’

Automation, or the act of utilizing technology to oversee and simplify repeatable tasks, may seem most common in the manufacturing industry. The truth, however, is that automation can be employed in all fields—and across many departments—to provide consistent management of one or more processes.

Automation frees you and your staff members to work on the tasks that are particularly critical to your company’s success. It also helps individuals catch items that are easily forgotten or overlooked. In other words, it can be a key factor in the growth of your organization. If you are looking to augment your day-to-day operations with the addition of an automation tool or two, here are three areas to consider first:

Logistics

Every business will have its own unique degree of logistical need. For instance, if your company has a physical location or if you operate an online retail store, your need may revolve around order fulfillment and shipping. Consider establishing a tracking system that will help you automate any such processes. This may include tasks like invoicing, billing, processing, reporting, and vendor tracking. In short, any logistical step that is not central to your business model can be automated.

While doing so can free up resources for you and your team to focus on your core product or service, investing in automation can also mean significant upfront costs. Before you move forward with this decision, analyze how it will impact your short-term and long-term financial health. How long will it take before you begin to…

Excel Macros Help You Automate Your Spreadsheets: Here’s Where to Find Them

The more you know about Excel, the more powerful the software becomes. Once you’re fairly comfortable with the application, it’s well worth getting to grips with macros. Macros can help remove menial tasks from your workflow, giving you the time to focus on more important matters.

The simplest type of macro is a series of actions carried out manually, that you can “record” and perform again at the touch of a button. More advanced examples use VBA to automate complex processes.

Macros really come into their own once you’re able to create them to suit the task at hand. However, these five sites will help you find existing macros that can save you time and effort.

1. /r/Excel

There’s a subreddit for everything, and that includes Microsoft Excel. Reddit users discuss all aspects of the software, and macros are a popular topic of conversation. If you’re looking for a particular kind of macro, your best bet is the site’s search tools. However, if you simply want to see the best of the best, check out the coolest macro competition from October 2016.

With a $10 Amazon gift card on the line, users contributed their best macros. There’s no particular theme, so it’s a great look at what various people consider to be their most useful effort. The winner created a handy macro that allows users to go back to the last sheet they viewed in their current workbook.

Comment from discussion stilelits’s comment from discussion “To stimulate this community, I am hosting a Coolest Macro competition for a 10$ Amazon gift-card!”.

Other notables include a way of inserting page numbers with consistent formatting and a neat game to test player reflexes.

Many Excel users rely on Excel Forum for help with their various projects and problems. The site hosts a forum dedicated to programming, VBA, and macros, and it’s a great place to find new macros created by other users.

Typically, people ask for help, rather than posting finished macros for others to use. This is great, because other user responses will often explain the thought process behind using certain techniques, rather than just how to execute them.

Unless you’re looking for something in particular, the best way to navigate the site is by sorting threads by their number of views. That way, you’ll see…

Disable WPAD in Windows to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

Web Proxy Auto-Discovery (WPAD) gives organizations a way to automatically configure a proxy server on your system. Windows enables this setting by default. Here’s why that’s a problem.

WPAD is really useful when an organization like your company or school needs to configure a proxy server for your connection to their network. It saves you from having to set things up yourself. However, WPAD can cause problems should you connect to a malicious public Wi-FI network. With WPAD enabled, that Wi-Fi network can automatically configure a proxy server in Windows. All your web browsing traffic would be routed through the proxy server while you’re connected to the Wi-Fi network—potentially exposing sensitive data. Most operating systems support WPAD. The problem is that in Windows, WPAD is enabled by default. It’s a potentially dangerous setting, and it should not be enabled unless you really need it.

WPAD, Explained

Proxy servers—not to be confused with virtual private networks (VPNs)—are sometimes required to browse the web on some business or school networks. When you configure a proxy server on your system, your system will send your browsing traffic through the proxy server rather than directly to the websites you visit. This allows organizations to perform web filtering and caching, and may be necessary to bypass the firewalls on some networks.

The WPAD protocol is designed to allow organizations to easily provide proxy settings to all devices that connect to the network. The organization can place a WPAD configuration file in a standard place, and when WPAD is enabled, your computer or other device checks to see if there’s WPAD proxy information provided by the network. Your device then automatically uses whatever settings the proxy auto-configuration (PAC) file provides, sending all traffic on the current network through the proxy server.

Windows vs. Other Operating Systems

While WPAD might be a useful feature on some business and school networks, it can cause big problems on public Wi-Fi networks. You don’t want your computer to automatically configure a proxy…