Don't breed fear of technology in people

There have been a lot of reports on technological advancements, particularly automation and artificial intelligence ("New robot can play chess, pour coffee but wants a job"; Jan 10).

Automation helps reduce some of the manpower demands of the food and beverage industry, while artificial intelligence allows us to have driverless vehicles and manage traffic better.

Although it has been predicted that five million jobs will be lost by 2020 because of automation, many of these jobs are probably not what Singaporeans would choose to do.

This technological shift would likely create several million higher value new jobs.

Headings and captions saying that "five million jobs will be lost by 2020" and "robot wants a job" do not give people a good impression of what technology can do for us and the Singapore economy.

I do not think we want to plant in the minds of people the idea that technology is here to rob us of our jobs, or to breed in the population a tendency to reject technological advancements.

Ng Chee Siang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2017, with the headline 'Don't breed fear of technology in people'. Print Edition | Subscribe