A 16 page promotional magazine/insert by BAE Systems in a well-known news magazine came to my attention recently. Entitled “Emerging Technologies”, it is largely an advertising puff for the aforementioned company, but that doesn’t alter the fact that it was also full of really interesting information.
For example, there was a two page spread headed, “Robots are our friends” (the writer has obviously not seen Dr Who), which made the case for “making machines do smart things.” While generally optimistic about the possibilities for robots to assist mankind, and keen to debunk the possibility that we’ll create artificial intelligence that will eventually take over, this article did make the essential point that “What is essential for the future of AI is a cohort of very intelligent humans…. There is a real shortage of trained computer scientists, data scientists, people who do machine learning”. It could almost have been written by a recruiter!
The importance of “very intelligent humans” was underlined on the next two pages, headed “Technology by Numbers”, which provided a raft of fascinating facts as well as estimates of future global markets. Under the fascinating facts was the Digital Tech turnover growth from 2010-2014 for the key UK cities/areas where our digital industries are sited. Four showed over 100% growth in that period – Southampton (180%); Truro, Redruth & Camborne (153%); Dundee (129%); and London (101%). Of course these are all relative to the base point, the fact is that Britain is extremely well placed to continue to benefit from the digital economy. Our strength is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that 43% of all European “Unicorns” (companies with a valuation of over $1BN) are based here. However, to maintain our position it’s necessary, nay vital, to be able to find and recruit “very intelligent humans”, aka quality candidates.
This brings me to some of the other stats given in the BAE insert. They provide estimates of future global digital markets in 2025. The largest, by a country mile, is the $1.9TN for the internet of things, followed in second place by $260BN for cybersecurity and $200BN for sensors. Nothing else – synthetic biology ($53BN), robotics ($98BN) or energy harvesting ($11BN) came close. For those graduating, or thinking about their education, this give a good guide as to future employment possibilities. It was interesting to see in today’s (12th June) Computer Weekly news that cyber security “must top the UK agenda say leading scientists”. The internet of things may be bigger, but if its not protected then neither it, nor the robotics, quantum technologies or synthetic biology will be of much use. So, to come full circle, the article on robots was perhaps right – even if Dr Who might not agree - we do need cybermen and women…
Michael Phair, Be-IT Resourcing