The Week That Was: Will robots affect the Asian job market?

By Nick Lambe – Managing Director, Links International


Welcome to 2017’s first issue of The Week That Was! The Week That Was is a brief, weekly (fine, sometimes bi-weekly!) round-up of business news from around the world that caught my attention. As Managing Director of a leading recruitment and HR outsourcing company in Asia, it’s important to stay informed of what’s going on around the world, particularly if the news affects the job market in Asia.So, we are now fully into the swing of 2017 (well, most people are) and there is lots of anticipation about what 2017 will hold, what with there still being a lot of uncertainty around Brexit and Trump amongst other things. Here are my top picks of the latest global business news:

AI is taken to an altogether new level…

Japanese insurance firm Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance has replaced 34 of its staff in the claims department with an AI (artificial intelligence) system that can calculate insurance payouts. They have shelled out a cool US$170m for the system, which is due to increase productivity by 30% and save US$1.2m a year in staff salaries. It will be very interesting to see how this pans out in the future, but it is potentially bad news for jobs, since the World Economic Forum predicts a loss of 5.1 million jobs over the next five years!


Hong Kong properties predicted to rise…

Li Ka-Shing, Hong Kong’s richest man, predicts that the Hong Kong property market will still rise this year, despite the tax curbs put in place in November last year imposing a 15% tax on non-permanent resident buyers. Cheung Kong property shares are down 15% since the tax was introduced, but housing prices in November surged to the highest ever recorded since data was made available in 1979. Perhaps the cooling measures haven’t gone far enough?


 And at CES… the Smart Home Race is on, particularly for digital home assistants…

Voice AI is at the forefront of the Consumer Electronics Show, which started yesterday in Las Vegas. For many years, the show was rammed with home appliances previewing a world that you could control with your voice. These appliances have been plagued by glitchy software and dodgy interfaces and therefore just haven’t taken off. However, new Artificial Intelligence software that makes it easier for gadgets to understand speech are locked in the race for dominance of the digital home assistants. It is predicted that Voice AI could reach 40 million homes by 2021!! All the big names have or will produce a digital assistant product powered by AI in 2017, from Microsoft (Cortana) to Alphabet Inc. (smart Home speaker) to Samsung Electronics (phones). Watch this space… or speak to it anyway!

Disclaimer: This column is designed to be a light-hearted weekly update on the global business news that I enjoyed reading.  We would welcome your thoughts, comments and suggestions. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Read previous editions of The Week That Was:
issue 1
issue 2
issue 3
issue 4
issue 5
issue 6
issue 7
issue 8
issue 9
issue 10
issue 11