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Could The Rise In Artificial Intelligence Render People Jobless?



Artificial Intelligence
Arnor Dror (Flickr)

Throughout history, waves of technological innovations have had a very significant impact on the labour market. Creating a more effective process for production will, no doubt, have an effect on human labour. 

The industrial revolution which overhauled the production process of goods had an unprecedented impact on not only the production process but also every part of human existence. The transition from manual means of production to mechanical means necessitated the need for production companies to constantly research more effective ways to produce. 

By the 1830s, the full effect of the industrial revolution set in. Prior to the industrial revolution, weaving was done at home for family usage and also for sale. These women and children who weaved in the convenience of their homes would later become staff at textile factories. Although there was an economic boom, the standard of living didn’t rise immediately. If anything, it fell drastically under this early capitalist period.

Will history repeat itself?

Although jobs were lost at the industrial revolution, the revolution ended up creating more jobs than it killed. For example, the invention of automobiles killed the need for horse services. The automobile industry alone created an unprecedented amount of jobs. Truck drivers were needed, mechanics, road construction workers, and automobile factory workers, amongst others, were needed to serve workers.

READ ALSO: Artificial Intelligence: Africa’s Response To The Transformative Technology

The AI era, unlike the industrial revolution era, isn’t just about creating machines, it is creating them to think like humans and perform tasks more effectively than humans. The fear of AI by employees is, therefore, quite justified. Will AI create more jobs or take jobs away?

The first technological revolution seemed to have created more jobs than it displaced. The AI revolution is a technological revolution far more advanced and taking place faster than the industrial revolution. 

The truth is this wave of technology will have a stronger impact on the first. According to the Mckinsey Global Institute, the scale of AI’s disruption is 300 times that of the industrial revolution.

Another truth is, though a lot of research has been carried out, it is still too early to accurately predict what the impact of AI will be. But going by history, a job displacement in one sector could lead to an expansion in other sectors, making room for displaced workers. It’s also possible that new technology creates a new sector that never existed.

Jobs that will be replaced are most likely those that have to do with monotonous tasks, for example, call centres, production line workers, and document classification. 

Higher skilled jobs will probably see assistance from AI rather than an outright takeover. There will equally be some takeovers in the financial industry. The need for cashiers and customer service workers could be lost to AI, and routine accounting will be easily done by AI.

The need for some low skilled workers could be eliminated, thereby, causing people to upgrade their skill sets and to take on more complex work. This might improve the standard of living and lead to a rise in the level of literacy. 

READ ALSO: 5 Areas Artificial Intelligence Is Set To Dominate

During the industrial revolution, people adapted to the new technological ecosystem. They learned to use machines that made their work easier and in some cases, increased their wages. But with a technological transformation 300 times the scale of the industrial revolution, can every human adapt as fast as the disruption scale? That answer is left to be answered. 

Adapting means updating skillset because the advent of AI could lead to loss of low skilled jobs but in a continent like Africa updating isn’t as easy as it sounds.

According to the UN, there are 203 million illiterate people who are below the age of 15 in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is only one-seventh of the world’s population, and it accounts for 27% of the global illiterate population. The AI take over might just plunge this population into an abyss of penury, as low skilled jobs might be wiped out of existence. 

The current level of poverty might also make updating skillsets virtually impossible for many people. Online courses, which are the easiest and somewhat cheaper means of acquiring skills, are still very expensive for low income earners in Africa. 

The impact of AI on jobs can, therefore, not be generalised. Its effect is relative to the current social and economic realities of a country. Another variable that cannot be estimated is our ability, as humans, to innovatively adapt to a future full of several uncertainties— as it is with Artificial Intelligence


Bolu Abiodun is a recent graduate of Theatre and Media Arts, Federal University Oye-Ekiti. A journalist with over a year's experience on the job. A former editor at American Media company Project Forward, he is a skilled content creator, social media manager and digital marketer.

Crypto Assets

Crypto prices drop as global market fear increases



Top cryptocurrency prices have fallen amidst a drop in stocks and fears over China’s Evergrande debt crisis. In the last 24hour, Bitcoin dropped from $47,772 to $42,630 shedding about 8.58%. this is the lowest in price since another bull run began on Sept 5 after the April crash.

El- Salvador’s President, Nayib Bukele sees the fall as an opportunity to invest more. Recall that the country adopted Bitcoin as a legal tender on September 7. Despite the adoption, the price of Bitcoin has fallen by almost 14% since then.

Other coins have experienced dramatic crashes within the last 24hours. Solana, a coin that has experienced 355% growth within the last 3 months fell from $162 to $130 shedding about 11.39% within the last 24hours. Solana’s fall may be categorized by the 17-hour outage which the founder, Anatoly Yakovenko said was caused by bots “flooding the networks”

Ethereum fell by 9.37% while Dogecoin and Axie Infinity fell by 11.22% and 14.14% respectively within the last 24hrs hours. While crypto experiences dark Monday, El-Salvador keeps investing more money in Bitcoin.

A look at the global market

The global market is experiencing fear due to the Evergrande debt crisis. A report published by the University of Michigan shows that consumer’s sentiment is beginning to decline. This trend alone may impact the crypto market as well.

On the other hand, the global market downturn must have been spurred by the Evergrande debt crisis. The company grew to be one of China’s biggest companies by borrowing more than $300bn. Last year, Beijing made rules to control the debt owed by big real estate developers. This led Evergrande to offer its properties at major discounts to raise more money to keep the business afloat. Right now, the company is struggling to meet the interest on payment of debts.

Why would it matter if Evergrande fails?

The collapse of the multi-million dollars company would affect the global market; including the crypto market. Many people bought properties from Evergrande and they expect to make gains. If Evergrande falls, crypto investors will be forced to withdraw more money to keep their business running without the means to invest more. When one business fails, the other gets affected indirectly. This also applies to other firms that do businesses with Evergrande.

The potential impact on China’s financial system is another effect of Evergrande’s fall. In his statement to BBC, Mattie Berkink, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), said that “the financial fallout would be far-reaching. Evergrande reportedly owes money to around 171 domestic banks 121 other financial firms” if the company fails, other lenders or businesses may be forced to lend less. Thereby leading to a credit crunch- a situation where companies struggle to borrow money.


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Bitcoin in Africa

The rise of CBDC in African economies



Many nations have taken cues from the world of crypto and its resounding successes over the last decade. In order to avoid getting left behind, governments worldwide are increasingly turning their attention towards implementing some form of digital currency, a CBDC which in full is Central Bank Digital Currency. Although inspired by cryptocurrencies, CBDC’s are quite different from traditional crypto platforms. The main differences are that CBDC’s are unlikely to be decentralized, the supply of this currency regulated by the host’s country’s central bank as the CBDC is designed to operate as a sovereign legal tender, the digitized form of the host country’s fiat currency. Thus, a central bank may issue digitized tokens of its currency of which their value is pegged to the fiat currency of the nation in question, making CBDC’s stablecoins.

Africa has seen a rise in the use of cryptocurrencies and it’s still pushing frontiers in this sector. Although the use of crypto in many African nations is becoming more and more pervasive by the day, the tone of governments in many of these countries toward the sector is cautious at best and threatening at worst. However, a few nations have voiced interests in creating digitized versions of their legal tender to function as a CBDC. Amongst these are Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya and Tunisia.

Many of these projects are still in the research phase or developmental phase however. A good example is Ghana’s proposed CBDC, the E-cedi being developed in partnership with German company, Giesecke + Devrient. Nigeria’s CBDC project, the eNaira has been announced and according to Nigeria’s central bank, this CBDC will be launched sometime in 2021. To that end, the CBN has partnered with fintech company, Bitt Inc. to serve as the technical partner in the eNaira’s development. Reportedly, the CBN had made the decision to digitize the Nigerian Naira in 2017.

While the pursuance of digital currencies in African nations is a welcome development, implementation of these schemes isn’t without challenges. Chief among the issues countries in Africa face would be the already existing financial service inequality and poor penetration of internet access in the continent. These challenges must be tackled in order to allow for mainstream adoption of CBDCs and the subsequent provision of financial inclusion. The benefits largely depend on the peculiarities of the nation deploying them. For instance, a digital currency is thought to help Nigeria increase foreign remittances, it’s second largest source of forex after oil. Whatever the outcome of these projects, it is becoming apparent that CBDC’s have come to stay.

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Decentralize Brief

Bitcoin trades above $51k ahead of El Salvador’s adoption



Bitcoin growth

Bitcoin price has rallied above $51,000 ahead of El Salvador’s adoption. The immediate surge in price may be due to the social media campaign that everyone should buy sats of Bitcoin to support El Salvador’s plan to make the coin a legal tender or it may be due to the news of El Salvador’s adoption of the coin as a legal tender on September 7. Users of social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit are discussing how they will buy Bitcoin of $30 each to mark the new El Salvador Bitcoin law.

The surge in Bitcoin’s price began in the last 24hrs with the price rallying around $51,955 with a 3.37% increase. This is an all-time high after the April crash that brought the price of Bitcoin from $64k down to $28k. The move by El Salvador to be the first country that accepts Bitcoin as a legal tender and the social media campaign that leads to a surge in price ahead September 7 are a repetition of events that occurred late last year and early this year with regards to institutional investors and how the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed.

El Salvador, a country in Central America, has been preparing heavily to adopt Bitcoin by installing ATMs to allow citizens to convert the token into US dollars. Last week, the country’s Legislative Assembly passed a law to allow for the creation of a $150m Trust to support the conversion of Bitcoins to US dollars.

To promote the use of Bitcoin, the government states that it will give the adult population of El Salvador $30 in Bitcoin once they download “Chivo” the wallet issued by the government. This was confirmed by the Finance Minister, Alejandro Zelaya.

What this means for Bitcoin investors

Apart from the adoption by Salvadorians, on-chain analytics show that Bitcoin is in high demand. The fourth halving that occurred will make Bitcoin become a scarce token in the nearest future. Thereby increasing the price sporadically.

With El Salvador’s interest in Bitcoin, other countries are likely to follow suit- Panama is considering following El Salvador’s lead. History will repeat itself as this development will serve as another crypto rout that occurred early this year when Tesla and MicroStrategy announced their support for Bitcoin.

El Salvador’s new law allows the use of Bitcoin as a legal tender it can be used to buy goods, pay for taxes and bank loans. This means more demand for Bitcoin, with the fourth halving that occurred, it means less supply. A common rule of economics for demand and supply will apply. Prices are projected to keep rising. At the time of writing this report, Bitcoin is trading at $51,839 with a projection of $52k before the end of today and higher tomorrow when Salvadorians begin to use the token.

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