Decades ago, Japan faced an unavoidable, long-term economic challenge. Even as its economy reached record highs in the late 1980s (fueled by strong auto sales, the rise of innovative companies like Nintendo, and real estate speculation), it was preparing for the coming day when more than a quarter of its population would be over age 65. Today, Japan’s median age is more than 10 years older (47) than that of the US (36). To offset the economic realities of a rapidly aging workforce, Japan made the decision to become a world leader in robotics. Advanced robotics in manufacturing, healthcare, consumer electronics, and soon personal services are now deeply entrenched in the Japanese economy, a movement created out of a need to maintain productivity and GDP growth. As they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.”
Today, while the United States may not be facing the same demographic challenges, it is similarly at a crossroads: Artificial Intelligence (AI) will soon disrupt our economy – it is up to us whether it is positive disruption or negative disruption. Indeed, the continuing advancement of AI, Deep Learning (DL), Machine Learning (ML), computer vision and robotics is going to have a massive economic effect and some jobs displacement will be a downside to industries becoming more productive. McKinsey estimates that AI’s impact on employment could be as high as 15 percent. But that’s not the whole story.