You'll get a robot CEO in 30 years: Jack Ma

The Alibaba chairman predicts that technology will make many CEOs irrelevant in the not-too-distant future.
The Alibaba chairman predicts that technology will make many CEOs irrelevant in the not-too-distant future.

Dubai - "In the next 30 years, the world will see much more pain than happiness," Ma said of job disruptions caused by the internet.



By Staff Report

Published: Mon 24 Apr 2017, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 25 Apr 2017, 2:02 AM

Alibaba Group Holding chairman Jack Ma said society should prepare for decades of pain as the internet disrupts the economy.
The world must change education systems and establish how to work with robots to help soften the blow caused by automation and the internet economy, Ma said in a speech to an entrepreneurship conference in Zhengzhou, China.
"In the next 30 years, the world will see much more pain than happiness," Ma said of job disruptions caused by the internet.
"Social conflicts in the next three decades will have an impact on all sorts of industries and walks of life," Bloomberg quoted Ma.
The Alibaba chairman predicts that technology will make many CEOs irrelevant in the not-too-distant future.
"In 30 years, a robot will likely be on the cover of Time Magazine as the best CEO," CNN quoted Ma.
Robots are quicker and more rational than humans, Ma said, and they don't get bogged down in emotions - like getting angry at competitors. But he expressed optimism that robots will make life better for humans in the long run, according to the CNN.
"Machines will do what human beings are incapable of doing," Ma said. "Machines will partner and cooperate with humans, rather than become mankind's biggest enemy."
It was an unusual speech for the Alibaba co-founder, who tends to embrace his role as visionary and extol the promise of the future. He explained at the event that he had tried to warn people in the early days of e-commerce it would disrupt traditional retailers and the like, but few listened. This time, he wants to warn against the impact of new technologies so no one will be surprised.
"About 15 years ago I gave speeches 200 or 300 times reminding everyone the internet will impact all industries, but people didn't listen because I was a nobody," he said.
Ma also predicts that technology will eventually create a problem plenty of office workers would love to have: a shorter work week.
"In 10 or 20 years, people will work less than four hours a day, maybe three days a week," he predicted. With less time spent working, he said, we will question how to live.
Ma made the comments as Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce operator, spends billions of dollars to move into new businesses from film production and video streaming to finance and cloud computing. The Hangzhou-based company, considered a barometer of Chinese consumer sentiment, is looking to expand abroad since buying control of Lazada Group to establish a foothold in Southeast Asia, potentially setting up a clash with the likes of Amazon.com.
Ma, 52, was also critical of the traditional banking industry, saying that lending must be available to more members of society. The lack of a robust credit system drives up the costs for everyone, he said.
The China Entrepreneur Club event is host to many of the country's startup founders, but even here Ma got a celebrity's reception. As he took the stage, the crowd surged closer and snapped selfies with Ma in the background. During a Q&A session, people jumped up and down to get attention and then often used the time with a microphone to marvel at the opportunity to talk with him.
- With inputs from Bloomberg
- business@khaleejtimes.com


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