SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is only the latest to say it – robots will outnumber humans in “x” years. Son says “x” equals “30.”
Others have different predictions but none say robotics are going away anytime soon. Not if, as Son says, more than a trillion objects will be connected to the internet within three decades.
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Putting Money On It
The SoftBank executive has a strong belief in the future of robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). So much so he started a $100 billion technology-investment fund with a Saudi sovereign-wealth fund, bought British microprocessor designer ARM Holdings PLC for $32 billion and acquired U.S. asset manager Fortress Investment Group PLC for $3.3 billion.
The reason for amassing so much money so quickly, Son says, is that 30 years will pass before we know it. “That is why,” he said, “I’m in a hurry to aggregate cash to invest.” The fund, called the SoftBank Vision Fund will be focused on AI, IoT and smart robots.
To Worry Or Not
The biggest concern most people have about robots and AI is whether technology will replace millions of jobs in coming decades. One expert says if technology keeps accelerating at the current rate, robots and artificial intelligence could replace tens of millions of jobs 2037.
And it’s not just one or two voices. Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFTA) co-founder along with Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLAF) founder, Elon Musk have both worked on economic policies to mitigate the potential disruption of robots in the world’s labor markets.
Gates wants to tax robot workers and Musk suggests a universal basic income to replace lost wages when “Robby the Robot” takes over your job.
While Gate’s and Musk’s theories may sound implausible, they are not coming too soon. Currently Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZNC) employs more than 45 000 robots in 20 fulfillment centers. This represents a 50% increase in one year.
Another shipper, United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE:UPSC) is running trials on automated package delivery drones (as is Amazon). Tesla’s newest project, a huge battery factory in Nevada will be nearly 100% automated.
Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban lent his voice to those predicting a robot revolution. Cuban recently tweeted, "Automation is going to cause unemployment and we need to prepare for it."
While both Gates and Musk have received a lot of publicity regarding their plans to deal with the economics of robotics, Cuban has taken a decidedly political approach. In a blog post he urged President Donald Trump to make America a global leader in robotics. Cuban wrote, "if nothing in the States changes, we will find ourselves dependent on other countries for almost everything that can and will be manufactured in a quickly approaching future."
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Stocks To Consider
Interest in robotics has spawned a flurry of suggestions by analysts and other experts regarding the up and comers in AI and all things robot for consideration by Wall Street regulars.
Some like Cleveland-based Lincoln Electric (NASDAQ:LECOC) will be less familiar but notable due to the company’s important space in robotic welding. Switzerland’s ABB Ltd (NYSE:ABBD) is known for direct involvement in the inner workings of robotics and industrial automation. Finally, better-known Rockwell Automation (NYSE:ROKC) is established in architecture software and control products.