Aug 22, 2017

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) a threat to jobs, US study shows

Jonathan Dyble
2 min
AI cars
A recent government study published by the US Economics and Statistics Administration has revealed that as many as one in nine Americans could be aff...

A recent government study published by the US Economics and Statistics Administration has revealed that as many as one in nine Americans could be affected in some form by the emergence of Autonomous vehicles (AVs).

The report has revealed that millions of vehicle operators and drivers will be the most drastically affected, whilst others who drive as only part of their jobs will still be impacted, albeit to a lesser extent.

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A 2015 employment survey found that 3,796,110 Americans were employed as drivers of heavy tractor trailers such as lorrys or HGVs, with 1,678,280 employed as light truck or delivery drivers.

In this sense, whilst the emergence of AVs will pose an attractive option for innovative businesses, the AI driven software could well prove a threat to the employment of many Americans.

“Our findings suggest that workers in some driving occupations might have difficulty finding alternative employment,” the report read, with many drivers not having enough transferable skills to guarantee them a job in alternative roles or industries.

“Workers in motor vehicle jobs are older, less educated, and for the most part have fewer transferrable skills than other workers,” it continued.

The study has been released at time when the likes of Tesla’s Elon Musk and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have called for the idea of a country-wide universal basic income in the US, with the realisation that the growing emergence of robotics, AI and automation will continually displace American jobs in the future.

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Jun 23, 2021

Japan Seeks to Revive Stalled Semiconductor Industry

Elise Leise
3 min
As international supply chains falter, the Japanese government intends to incentivise foreign chipmakers to build localised foundries

Post-pandemic, Japan has seen the consequences of relying solely on foreign imports for its semiconductors. Over 64.2% of its chips are usually imported from South Korea and Taiwan, leaving the country dependent on its neighbours. Industries from auto manufacturers to consumer electronics firms wait for chips, to no avail. But now, the Japanese government looks likely to put real funding behind its semiconductor industry, with top officials emphasising their support.


Domestic supply chains have never been more important. Rather than remain tied to international shipping routes during shortages and delays, governments are doing everything in their power to develop local lines of supply. But the question remains: can Japan pull it off? 


How Will Japan Pay For It? 

Herein lies our first issue. Japan’s debt has rapidly increased over the past few years, and the semiconductor industry will need roughly a trillion yen—US$9bn—in this fiscal year alone. This cost, however, pales in comparison to what Japan could lose if it fails to keep up with Europe and the US. Both nations have launched aggressive funding measures to revive their local semiconductor industries. And if Japan refuses to invest due to its debt, it could slow down progress in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to autonomous driving. 


According to Tetsuro Higashi, the former president of Tokyo Electron and Japan’s top government advisor in semiconductor strategy, ‘If we miss this opportunity now, there may not be another one’. Yet one advanced wafer fabrication factory can cost more than US$10bn, and any money poured into the industry will go fast. That’s why Japan, rather than invest trillions and trillions in failing domestic firms, is considering a second option. 


What Do They Plan To Do? 

Japan now intends to look abroad and convince overseas chip foundries to come to its shores. Its past failures mostly centred on trying to merge domestic firms that were already going through tough times. ‘This sort of made-in-Japan self-reliance approach hasn’t worked out well’, said Kazumi Nishikawa, a director at the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry’s IT division. ‘This time the goal is to offer a strong incentive for an overseas logic foundry to come to Japan’. 


As follows, Japan will now reach out to industry partners and leaders in other countries, including the industry heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), to build Japanese bases. According to the South China Morning Post, the heart of Japan’s mission is a US$337.2mn research and development project in Tsukuba that will involve TSMC and more than 20 Japanese firms. ‘I think we need to cooperate with our overseas counterparts’, said Akira Amari, a senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. ‘[And] TSMC is the world’s top logic chipmaker’. 

Indeed, if that’s Japan’s strategy, the future looks bright. TSMC recently set up a venture near Tokyo to research energy-efficient 3D chips with several Japanese partners. And in the future, the multinational chipmaker may consider expanding its Japanese operations—that is, if government incentives pave the path forward.

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