Electric airplanes, robot nurses, and tomorrow’s AI workforce

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Matthew Taylor

2023 may mark the beginning of the AI era. Are the advances in machine learning and robotics a blessing or a curse for humanity? Discover what our speakers had to say.

With our first thrilling South American tech event over, it’s time to look forward to Web Summit Rio 2024, taking place in the Riocentro convention center from April 15-18. Will you be there?

Web Summit Rio 2023 had sessions uniting tech experts, cultural icons and global policymakers, as well as interactive Q&As, masterclasses, and speaker experiences.

Here are some insights from world-renowned experts on making tech better, including André Stein, Ben Goertzel and Sarah Al-Hussaini.

If you want to learn more about the event, you can stay up to date by subscribing to our newsletter. You can also follow Web Summit Rio on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

“The idea of urban mobility in the air is not new. Everyone who has ever sat in traffic has thought about it.” So said André Stein, CEO of Eve Air Mobility, the company bringing a new mode of transport to Rio and beyond.

A spinout of giant Brazilian aerospace business Embraer, Eve Air Mobility has developed eVTOL – a new, fully electric mode of airborne urban transport. “You probably heard that flying is the safest way to travel. Well, this is actually true,” said André, citing the high bar regulators set for air travel.

Based in Rio, André’s team has been researching flight routes and mapping out all data possible to enhance the safety and potential of their urban mobility plan. With a target of up to 200 eVTOLs in Rio, there’s much to be done.

“We’re using technology to make aviation safer and better every time,” said André. “Because you’re flying like a plane, but with no propellers, it’s much quieter. We’re reducing the footprint of helicopter flights by up to 90 percent. It won’t replace cars or trains. For communities, it’s about bringing another option.”

Meet Grace, the robot nurse

The world’s population is aging. Who will take care of older people in 2050? Most likely, healthcare professionals will still be human, but they might just have robot assistants to fill the gap.

One such assistant appeared on stage at Web Summit Rio, demonstrating how ‘she’ could take temperatures and provide nutritional information. She even took the audience on a guided meditation.

This was Grace, a robot developed by Awakening Health that has been customized for eldercare and medical settings, with the ability to answer questions, provide social and emotional support, and more.

The ultimate goal, said Ben Goertzel, founder and CEO of SingularityNET – the company behind the AI that powers Grace – is to reach AGI (artificial general intelligence), and have robots that are compassionate and beneficially oriented toward human beings.

“The AI software has gotten better year on year, and it’s quite cool how much cleverer Grace the robot is
now than she was two years ago,” added Ben.

Is AI coming for our jobs? It depends…

What does AI mean for the workforce? It depends on the workforce. That was the main takeaway from a conversation between Ultimate co-founder and COO Sarah Al-Hussaini and Arc founder and CEO Don Muir.

“In customer service, this is the big question,” said Sarah. According to Sarah, whose business develops
AI-generated customer service bots, the customer service job market is going to change – but it’s likely to
be “a positive change”. At Ultimate, new roles continue to emerge as the team handles more and more
customer queries.

“One of the fastest-growing jobs in my space is automation manager, or bot manager,” said Sarah. Salaries
for these roles are up to 50 percent higher than standard customer service roles. But it’s not as
simple as just giving everyone better salaries. To do these roles, people “need to be more technically savvy”.

While it may not seem as though that’s a net gain in the number of available jobs, Don – whose business funds startups in Silicon Valley – spoke much more definitively: “The amount of job growth and investment that we have witnessed firsthand pertaining to AI is greater than I have seen in my entire career.”

Web Summit Rio returns to the Riocentro convention center from April 15-18. Pre-register for tickets now.

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