The rising automation

Consider this from Asia Nikkei:

Robots have made Singapore a modern manufacturing success – Nikkei Asia

In addition, the government has heavily incentivized global manufacturing and engineering companies to build advanced production facilities on the island and offers grants to local companies that work with them, leading to knowledge acquisition and access to cutting-edge technologies.

According to a study by Oxford Economics, each robot installed in a lower-income area displaces an average of 2.2 factory workers. But in higher-income areas of the same countries, the displacement average is just 1.3 workers.

As again, economics is not the focus here, but these long-term policy changes are critical to determine other aspects of economic activity: a healthy workforce and in turn a healthcare delivery system. These are pretty straightforward logical arguments here.

There’s another para worth quoting here:

Another ingredient in Singapore’s recipe for success has been its tie-up between industrial policy, the education system, specialist training institutions and the business ecosystem. On top of that has been public investment to promote academic research on advanced technologies, tax breaks for businesses investing in their technological capabilities and programs to raise the skill levels of the workforce.

I have been in awe of Singapore’s prowess around economic development, but the big question here is whether these policies can be scaled up for other geographies. The “success” of any policy (in effect, best practises) is whether they are universally applicable or not. Singapore’s “success” has been to attract international talent, but their failure is to integrate them in the processes. This is something which the US has excelled despite the social fractures (and decline in their academia). Beyond a degree course, it is the networking of individuals that benefits everyone in the process. Therefore, barring a niche area of automation (and “highly skilled workers”), you need generalists and receptive processes.

I have looked at automation in home care (and technological solutions) in detail. In fact, I had also proposed that as part of a PhD thesis, with application in specific healthcare structures. The top-down approach of “companies” and intermeshed with the financial incentive structures is a major barrier to accommodate a fresh way of delivery in the west, while locally, this remains a political prerogative without technocracy. I have also had the privilege to know the insider boardroom conversations, with time spent in meetings without actionable ideas. Everyone blows off smoke rings, which is exactly why bureaucracy (and socialist structures) are so appealing.

Automation (and technological paradigms) are interesting developments which merit a close evaluation.

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