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VIDEO: BCX EC holds annual event on effects of AI in businesses, industries

By Marc Jacobson - Jun 27, 2017
VIDEO: BCX EC holds annual event on effects of AI in businesses, industries

BCX Eastern Cape held its annual Manufacturing Event at the Running Waters Conference Centre last week, with presentations having a special focus on the digitisation, automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in businesses.

With this technological advancement evolving modern business and production spheres all around the world, BCX Divisional Manager, Andrew Kohler, mentioned that Eastern Cape specifically has a lot of potential in this regard, but that it just depends on the province’s innovativeness to transgress forward digitally.

“We cannot just mimic what is going on in first world countries and try to get it right. We got to look at other third world countries around the world and observe what they are doing, and then specifically focusing on the South African context,” Kohler said.

“We [Eastern Cape] have to think outside the box. In terms of what’s happening in a technology perspective, there’s a lot of investment overseas and we don’t have that same type of investment in South Africa, so we have to look at different ways to compete globally,” Kohler added.

Regarding job masses, AI specifically has often had the foresight to eliminate many jobs, and while this may be a huge economic burden on societies, Kohler believes that with technology evolving, it can also create many jobs that have not yet been thought of.

“If you look at how each industrial revolution has happened, jobs were created that they did not think of prior to that change; and this same type of thing will happen if technology continues to evolve,” Kohler said.

“Unfortunately though, those jobs will probably be highly skilled work, that require qualifications and Degrees, as well as years of experience and this will be the main challenge for a developing country like South Africa.”

For this, Kohler emphasizes that the country needs to find ‘clever’ ways in which to use its big labour force, in such ways to position them for these new jobs.

“If you look at Asia, they have big labour markets and they are pumping huge moneys into AI as well, so they are not scared of investing into AI, even with their huge labour populations to look after – that can be seen as an example in a South African context.”

Although this technological evolvement is deemed to change the world as we currently know it in the foreseeable future, Kohler believes that “AI is still very much in its infancy.”

“I think It’s still going to take time and is still maturing and there is a lot of excitement and hype surrounding it, but it’s going to take time until we see dramatic changes, but the changes will be two-fold.”

“The changes will be changes that we don’t really see, it is going to influence the way we buy products and by the way we work and do things, before we see dramatic seismic changes in society and industry.”

For this as a backdrop, Kohler iterates that it is important for society to watch this technological evolution carefully.

“The key is to carefully watch it in the specific industries, read about it, gain knowledge on it and get some insight on what is going on for ways in which to best position yourself for those changes in the future,” Kohler concluded.

Image: BCX Divisional Manager, Andrew Kohler, presenting at the event.

Watch for what else Andrew Kohler had to say on AI at the BCX EC Manufacturing Event last week