Israel unprepared for the robot revolution, warns ex-Intel Israel head

Israel unprepared for the robot revolution, warns ex-Intel Israel head

Mooly Eden says automation is looming ‘tsunami’ for labor market; urges government to name a ministry to address challenge

Mooly Eden (Courtesy)
Mooly Eden (Courtesy)

The former president of Intel in Israel, Mooly Eden, said Monday that success and complacency are the key threats to the startup nation and the government is not doing enough to deal with the blow being inflicted on the labor market by automation.

“I am paranoid and I am anxious,” Eden said at the Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society in Jerusalem in Jerusalem. “Everyone is talking about robots and I see a tsunami.”

When he hears about autonomous cars, chatbots and digital banking he sees “tens of thousands of people unemployed,” he said. This phenomenon will hurt the lower income social bracket first, he added.

“We can prepare for this,” he said. “But in my opinion we are completely unprepared.”

Robotics will bring an exponential change, completely transforming the labor market, yet the “answers of all the government ministries are completely linear,” he said. “When you try to solve an exponential problem in a linear way…in economic terms Israel will become completely irrelevant.”

“The biggest enemy of innovation is success – success makes you complacent,” he said. The government should take this threat seriously and appoint one ministry to be in charge of meeting the challenge of a changing labor market, he said. “Robotics is a revolution,” and a “tsunami,” he said.

“I’d like to see one government body in charge, setting out targets” that will enable Israel to close the social gaps that undermine its economic resilience, he said.

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