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Next industrial revolution: rise of the smart machines

Sales of robots worldwide hit a record high in 2014 with numbers topping 229,000, a report said, highlighting that smart machines could be performing 45 per cent of manufacturing tasks in a decade.

Last year also marked the third consecutive year of increase with 29 per cent year-on-year (YoY) growth, added the new research report titled “Thematic Investing: Robot Revolution: Global Robot & Al Primer” from Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoaML).

The IoT, big data, cloud computing and 3D printing have meant exponential advancements in the robotics sector, while global structural drivers, such as demographics, energy efficiency, productivity, urbanisation, and wage inflation, suggest long-term sustained growth, the report said.

“We estimate the robots and AI (artificial intelligence) solutions market will grow to $153 billion by 2020, comprising $83 billion for robot and robotics, and $70 billion for AI-based analytic,” the BoAML research paper said.

“We anticipate $14-33 trillion in annual creative disruption impact in 10Y, including $8-9 trillion of cost reductions across manufacturing and healthcare, $9 trillion cuts in employment costs via AI-enabled automation of knowledge work and $1.9 trillion in efficiency gains via autonomous cars and drones. Adoption of robots and AI could boost productivity by 30 per cent in many industries, while cutting manufacturing labour costs by 18-33 per cent,” BoAML said.

Paradigm shifts: inequality, labour, safety

“We are facing a paradigm shift which will change the way we live and work. We anticipate the greatest potential challenges arising from our ATW theme of People, notably the possible displacement of human labour (with 47 per cent of US jobs having the potential to be automated) and growth in inequality (with a 10 per cent supply and demand gap between skilled and non-skilled workers by 2020).

“We also anticipate issues around cyber security (50 billion connected devices by 2020), privacy (#1 concern in human-tech interactions), and longer-term existential threats being posed by AI (“killer robots”),” the research report said.

Eight entry points for investors: fast growth areas

BoAML has highlighted eight entry points for investors wishing to play the robots and AI theme: 1) AI; 2) Aerospace & Defence (incl. drones); 3) Autos & Transport; 4) Financials; 5) Healthcare; 6) Industrials; 7) Services (domestic); and 8) Agriculture & Mining.

“We anticipate fast growth for the likes of agribots, AI, automation, care-bots, cobots, drones (commercial and military), fintech, industrial robots, medical robots & computer-assisted surgery, self-driving cars, service robots, software and telehealth,” the BoAML research primer said. – TradeArabia News Service

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