Stephen Chen is Senior Vice President, Technology & Security, for NuCompass Mobility, a global relocation management company. Covid-19 and efforts to eradicate it will have a lasting impact on both employers and employees worldwide. As the U.S. and other countries recover, it's clear that the way we work has changed significantly and permanently. As they struggle with labor shortages, many companies are turning to automation because it's impossible to hire their way out of the situation. According to Forrester's Predictions, 2021: "Advances in AI, changes to work patterns, and a fierce global recession have made this drive for automation inevitable -- and irreversible."
In 2019, a survey from the Center for Digital Government (CDG),* the National Association of Chief Information Officers and IBM found that just 13 percent of state governments reported using artificial intelligence in some noncore part of their operations. Three years later, the same survey yielded very different results. At the NASCIO Annual conference in Seattle this week, Joe Morris with CDG presented some of the study's 2021 findings, and it was clear that the COVID-19 pandemic changed how state and local government are thinking about AI. This year, 60 percent of respondents reported AI is currently in use in their enterprise; 6.7 percent said the tech is widely used across the state, up from just 1 percent in 2019. The shift seems to have come in part from the spike in demand for government services in 2020 when the pandemic hit and states scrambled to find new ways to meet the high volume of citizen needs.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to change how the world works. Although it's not perfect, artificial intelligence is a gamer changer. AI is the main engine of the digital revolution. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the need for human-machine digital intelligent platforms facilitating new knowledge, competences and workforce skills, advanced cognitive, scientific, technological, and engineering, social, and emotional skills. In the AI and Robotics era, there is a high demand for the scientific knowledge, digital competence, and high-technology training in a range of innovative areas of exponential technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics, data science and big data, cloud and edge computing, the Internet of Thing, 5G, cybersecurity and digital reality.
Iranian dissidents are warning of the hard-line regime's use of drones to cause instability in the region, saying it is using the technology – materials for which are being imported from China – to make up for the weaknesses of its air force. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella group of Iranian resistance groups that oppose the regime, released evidence in a press conference it says shows the production and utilization of unmanned aerial vehicles (UACs) for terrorist operations and for assisting its proxies in the Middle East – including aerial photographs of the alleged sites and details that have emerged from inside the country. "Our revelation today is significant because it shows that the Qods Force of the IRGC has in recent years expanded its arsenal to step up terrorism and warmongering to destabilize the region by arming its proxies with UAVs," Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, told Fox News. "This is in line with the regime's nuclear defiance and its repression at home." The group alleges that the regime, which has been rocked by a slew of economic sanctions imposed by the Trump administration as well as protests at home and challenges related to its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, has used a web of industries to spend billions of dollars to produce components or smuggle them in from foreign countries.
From Google and Amazon to Apple and Microsoft, every major tech company is dedicating resources to breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. Personal assistants like Siri and Alexa have made AI a part of our daily lives. Meanwhile, revolutionary breakthroughs like self-driving cars may not be the norm, but are certainly within reach. As the big guys scramble to infuse their products with artificial intelligence, other companies are hard at work developing their own intelligent technology and services. The AI industry even broke records during the global uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, with artificial intelligence startups raising $33 billion in 2020, according to CB Insights.
As the coronavirus pandemic enveloped the world last year, businesses increasingly turned to automation in order to address rapidly changing conditions. Floor-cleaning and microbe-zapping disinfecting robots were introduced in hospitals, supermarkets and other environments. Some enterprises found that, given the new emphasis on hygiene and social distancing, robotic operations offered a marketing advantage. The American fast food chain White Castle began using hamburger-cooking robots in an effort to create "an avenue for reduced human contact with food during the cooking process". With the worst days of the pandemic hopefully now behind us, the jobs story has turned out to be unexpectedly complicated. While overall unemployment rates remain elevated, both the US and the UK are experiencing widespread worker shortages, focused especially in those occupations that tend to offer gruelling work conditions and relatively low pay.
What a ride it has been in the Transportation and Logistics (T&L)sector regarding the B2C eCommerce growth boom world-wide, much of this driven by the global retail sales growth during COVID-19. This accelerated growth and now with global trade rapidly rebounding, the timing is right for the transportation and logistics industry to advance smarter digital transformations. According to McKinsey, this industry must be completely digital to secure its future – but what will it take? The future although seems rosy, is complex and challenging due to rapid industry consolidations, new technology acceleration, ever constant regulatory changes such as GDBR, and of course, Brexit impacting European markets. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has been most vocal reinforcing the importance of the T&L Industry to take heed on the importance of customer experiences – how courier drivers ship, route and deliver parcels and products with agile speed has become the new normal. Service speed from Amazon has shifted customer expectations on timeliness on B2B to be as resilient as their B2C personal experiences demanding instant quotations, real time tracking on orders, and personalize messaging on express services.
More than a thousand robots are set to join the delivery personnel ranks of Chinese behemoths Alibaba, Meituan and JD.com over the next year as the pandemic fuels demand for contactless services. The firms expect to operate over 2,000 robots between them by 2022, up about fourfold from now, their executives said, encouraged also by falling costs of making robots. Millions of couriers still deliver packages for as less as 3 yuan ($0.47) in China, but companies have been exploring the use of drones or box-like robots on wheels from as early as 2013 amid a labor crunch that has worsened due to the pandemic. Beijing has also ordered firms to ensure rest periods for couriers as they scramble to meet rising demand and deadlines. "The COVID-19 pandemic has been a big boost" for robot rollout plans, said Xia Huaxia, chief scientist at Meituan.
Scientists have developed a tiny 3D-printed microneedle vaccine patch that could offer a pain-free alternative to needles. In trials on mice, it offered a 10-fold greater immune response and a 50-fold greater T-cell and antigen-specific antibody response compared with a needle in the arm. The polymer patch, which is smaller than a 5p coin, needs lower doses and could be mailed to people's homes and self-administered, eliminating the need for trained medical personnel. It also offers an'anxiety-free' vaccination option for people who have a'needle phobia', also known as trypanophobia, which is putting some off getting their Covid jabs. The researchers are yet to conduct clinical trials of the patch on humans, which could pave the way for a new way of administering vaccines in the future.
Companies tapped more advanced bots to double check complex legal documents and contracts for irregularities at much higher speeds than remote workers. These types of efficiency gains are expected to drive growth in the software bot market for years, said Mihir Shukla, co-founder and chief executive of robotic process automation maker Automation Anywhere Inc., based in San Jose, Calif. "Most people recognize the need for automation," Mr. Shukla said at The Wall Street Journal's CIO Network Summit, held online Tuesday. Now there is an even greater appreciation at the board level, he said. The robotic process automation market is expected to grow by double digits through 2024, according to information-technology research and consulting firm Gartner Inc.