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BFCSA: In ten years the Internet will take our JOBs and we will be replaced.

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The Internet of Things: it's arrived and it's eyeing your job

May 21 2016

Malcolm Maiden

We have been hearing about the Internet of Things for years, but get ready. It has finally arrived, and it has the potential to unleash economic disruption that makes what the internet has delivered so far look like child's play.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn is better placed than most to watch it happen. Telstra is in the middle of it, through initiatives of its own such as e-health and through its wireless network, which supports a growing universe of apps.


A Telstra SIM connection allows Tesla cars to connect to the internet in this country, for example. A new one helps graziers manage stock by alerting them when gates have been left open.  Penn also drives a Tesla, Elon Musk's sculptural electric rocket.

Earlier this year, he and his family decided to drive out from Melbourne and spend a weekend in the country. He left the Tesla in the garage for that trip – and when he went into the garage on Monday morning to drive to work, he realised he had left his keys out where he had stayed.

He reached into his pocket to call work and say he was going to have to Uber it in ... and there, glowing silently on his phone, was the Tesla app.


He opened it up, and tapped through until it asked him whether he wanted to unlock the car. Tap yes. Then it asked him if he wanted to start the car. Tap yes again. The Tesla woke, was good good to go – but then Penn saw the closed garage roller door. The clicker for the door was also on his key ring, far away.


The Internet of Things didn't extend far enough to get Andy Penn's Tesla out of the garage that day. Soon however, it will: and when driverless cars make their debut in about five years, there will be cars that start up, raise the garage door if there is one, and drive to the front door, ready.


Andy Penn's experience is a reminder that the Tesla isn't a car as we are used to thinking of it. It's actually an app, wrapped in a beautiful case. It rides the roads like other cars, but it also rides the internet. All cars will, and in that part of the economy alone there are profound implications.


The Internet of Things is "billions of connected devices from vending machines to mining equipment, aircraft engines and their componentry, agricultural sensors and cars," Penn said in his first keynote speech as Telstra CEO in July last year.


It both offers opportunities and poses threats. Penn mentioned in his first speech for example that a Committee for Economic Development of Australia report on Australia's future workforce had estimated that almost 40 per cent of

the jobs that exist in Australia had a moderate to high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10 to 15 years.


"Machine learning is the biggest driver of this because of its implications for the service industry," he said. "In future, many traditional services type activities will be done by computers more quickly, more cheaply and more accurately."



New jobs will be created by the Internet of Things, too of course. We just don't know yet exactly where they will be. A look at what might happen in the transport industry gives us a taste.


Driverless vehicles means job losses for professional drivers, and there are a lot of them. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that there were 18 million vehicles on the road last year. About 3.5 million or 19 per cent were commercial vehicles of one kind of another. Job losses in that market alone could dwarf those suffered by the manufacturing sector in recent years.


There will be job gains as companies exploit the technology, too. Driverless cars will also free up corporate cash for investment as wages are saved, and self-driving, self-monitoring vehicles will boost vehicle efficiency and drive down transportation costs. The productivity gains will flow more slowly than the job losses, however.


The shape of the retail vehicle industry is also going to be transformed.

It will make little sense for many to own a car, even a driverless one, because it will be more cost-effective to use an

 app to rent door to door car trips, supplied by privately-run pools of driverless cars (Uber expects to be running a driverless fleet by 2030). The pool cars will make many trips a day, raising capacity utilisation, and the investment yield. The number of cars on the road may well fall as this occurs, with implications for everyone who earns a living by making, selling and servicing vehicles.


You would have to think that reports of the imminent death of road networks as the world lowers carbon emissions might also be trumped by the arrival of the driverless vehicle. Rather than disappearing, road networks could be the backbone of driverless privately owned, public transport networks that include cars and buses.


Trains will also be driverless, everywhere. They already are in some networks including Hong Kong's. Driverless car pooling is going to challenge them, however, probably on cost as well as service levels. Hold on: it is going to be wild ride.

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