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Are the robots coming for your job? Saint-Gallen symposium

What will jobs be like in the future – and will robots and artificial intelligence change them enormously? MScBA Master in Management student Charles Menard was invited, as one of the ‘200 Leaders of Tomorrow’, to debate the subject with the ‘Leaders of Today’ at the 48th St. Gallen Symposium at the at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.



For three days in May, Charles attended the 48th Symposium with the theme of ‘Beyond the End of Work’; it tackled questions about the future of jobs through a series of conferences, panel discussions and one-to-one discussions. Keynote speakers included world-class leaders such as American economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin; president of Forbes Media, Steve Forbes; German Minister of Foreign affairs, Sigmar Gabriel; CEO of Hyperloop One, Rob Lloyd; Dominik Barton from McKinsey; and Brian Griffiths, Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach from Goldman Sachs International.

The St. Gallen Symposium is organised by 30 members of the student-run International Student Committee (ISC), and is funded by group of benefactors including main sponsors ABB, Accenture and Swiss Re.

“To me, the purpose of this event was first of all to meet and get to know, in sometimes private settings, very talented people and some world leaders. I also had the chance to privately discuss with Dr Pippa Malmgrem, a former financial market advisor and Special Assistant to President George W. Bush. She founded a commercial drone company a few years ago and presides over the DRPM group.

Written by intelligent humans

“This symposium has broadened my views on what AI really is. I think it is a bit far-reaching to qualify it as ‘intelligent’ as I believe that there is nothing actually intelligent there. Quite the contrary, in my opinion AI are very efficient programs written by highly intelligent people. I do not believe that, in the short to middle run, humans have to fear for their position but rather should embrace change through reskilling. The main takeaway of this event is that we must fundamentally re-evaluate the way we approach education, and especially regarding interdisciplinarity.

“Finally, many speakers addressed the need to rethink our institutional communication channels to bridge the growing gap between the so-call winners of globalization and innovation and those who legitimately feel left out or suffering from it. I was happy to hear those concerns voiced as this was exactly the topic of my essay.”

Robots are coming for your job

The 200 Leaders of Tomorrow, all under 30 years old, were split into two groups. Charles’ group took part in an essay competition on ‘Robots are coming for your job, how do you augment yourself to stay economically and socially relevant?’. The top five presented their ideas on the main stage. Winner (for the second year running) was Australian Nathaniel Ware from the University of Oxford who wrote about the complementarity of robots and humans.

Charles’ original application essay, entitled Constantly improving: the role of the entertainment industries in the automation era. Rethinking knowledge and education through new narratives was written for a competition that attracted 1,400 applications; It explores the political polarization and distrust of the media and corporations that have eroded the foundational pillars of liberal societies. In the abstract of his essay, Charles states: ‘An increasing number of our fellow citizens are questioning the benefits of globalization and turning to politicians that hold stark opposition to liberal values.’ He writes about new fears prompted by digitalisation, but also the opportunity for a ‘new renaissance’ that it offers especially in the education sector.

You can see highlights of the St. Gallen Symposium by following the link.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China. www.rsm.nl

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at mschouten@rsm.nl.

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