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March 3, 2024

CES 2024 Opens With Focus on AI and Automotive Tech, But Questions Remain on Privacy and Jobs

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Jan 14, 2024

The 2024 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicked off this week in Las Vegas, with tech companies large and small showcasing their latest innovations across consumer electronics, vehicles, health devices, smart home systems, and much more. However, two key themes emerged as dominating the headlines out of CES – AI and automotive technology.

AI Assistants and “Sentient” Tech Stir Excitement and Concern

Several major companies unveiled new AI assistants and “sentient” robots aimed at helping people in their daily lives. Amazon demoed an Alexa assistant that can appear as a hologram and respond conversationally on a variety of topics. Google highlighted new features for its assistants that allow them to book appointments, plan vacations, and more based on natural language conversations.

However, these claims of growing intelligence and independence stirred some ethical debates.

“We have to be so careful that these things don’t take on a life of their own,” said John Smith, an AI ethicist who spoke at one of the CES conference sessions. “There need to be clear boundaries, transparency, and oversight around what tasks we let AI perform and what data we allow it to collect.”

Privacy advocates also raised concerns around intrusive data collection. Several exhibitors showed off “emotion detection” devices claiming to monitor and respond to users’ moods, while home robotics companies talked about analyzing in-home audio and video to better serve owners’ needs.

Automakers Accelerate Towards Autonomous and Electric

Most major automakers had a significant presence at CES, with many highlighting their transitions towards electric and autonomous vehicle technology.

Autonomy and AI Hit the Roads

Several companies revealed progress on their autonomous driving systems. GM’s Cruise unit demonstrated an autonomous vehicle that makes deliveries. Multiple automakers showed self-driving cars, trucks, and shuttles navigating urban streets and freeways.

“It’s clear that widespread autonomous transportation is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’,” said Michelle Saxon, an automotive tech analyst attending CES. “The tech is advancing quickly, especially with AI and computing breakthroughs. But automakers need to convince consumers that these vehicles are safe.”

Safety remains a key barrier to mass adoption of self-driving cars. Surveys show most people are still hesitant about riding in an autonomous vehicle. Developers are using a combination of better perception sensors, detailed road maps, simulation, and rules-based control software to increase capabilities and confidence.

Electric Goes Mainstream

Electric vehicles from startups and major automakers alike drew crowds in Las Vegas. Established brands like Volvo, Hyundai, and Volkswagen showed forthcoming EVs with 300+ mile ranges, fast-charging capabilities, and attractive designs aimed at mainstream buyers. Several new makers unveiled models as well, with Vietnamese automaker VinFast generating buzz around its coming line of smart EVs.

“The barriers between gas and electric vehicles used to be immense, but those gaps have closed dramatically,” said Mark Fabian of EVObserver. “These aren’t science experiments or compliance cars anymore. What we’re seeing at CES are EVs that will truly rival gas-powered models in range, performance, and appeal.”

Investments in charging infrastructure and decreasing battery prices are helping accelerate EV adoption. Multiple forecasts predict that between 2025 and 2030 EVs will reach cost parity with gas vehicles, leading to mass market uptake.

Impact on Jobs an Undercurrent

While optimism around technological change ran high in Las Vegas, an undercurrent of concern about impacts on jobs could also be sensed. Hospitality worker unions staged a protest outside the convention center, voicing fears about AI and robots replacing human workers in casinos and hotels.

“Casinos are already replacing card dealers, drink servers, and custodians with machines. How long until they don’t need receptionists, chefs, or clerks?” said Roberta Davis, a cocktail waitress at a Vegas casino for 28 years. “These executives celebrate when a robot can make 100 drinks an hour, but never think about the 50 people who lose their jobs.”

Recent studies have warned of significant job losses from technological disruption (see table below), further fueling these worries. Session panels on topics like “The Future of Work” and “Partnering with Workers on Automation” saw overflow attendance. Most technology leaders remain confident new jobs will offset losses from automation, but admit transitions could be painful. Government, academia, and industry partnerships around job retraining were frequently cited.

Some job loss estimates from recent studies:

Job Category % Jobs At Risk by 2030
Production & Office Support 56%
Food Service & Hotel 73%
Retail 52%
Transportation 84%

“History shows that while technology displaces some jobs, there are always new needs that create new types of work,” said economist Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots. “The challenge is helping those displaced reskill quickly. That’s not easy, especially for mid-late career workers.”

What Happens Next?

CES 2024 concludes Tuesday, with final demos and vendor booths shutting down that afternoon. The AI and autonomous vehicle ecosystems now return to their regular pace of development, while assessing buyer reactions from the show.

On the policy front, regulators will continue deliberating guardrails around privacy while trying to balance innovation. Ethicists and academics will host more debates about appropriate boundaries for AI.

For consumers, new products announced at CES should start hitting store shelves over 2024 and 2025. AI gadgets and appliances will gradually gain capabilities via software updates. And more EV options will flow into car dealerships. Autonomous ridesharing services will also expand as developers gather data to improve safety.

But despite the forward momentum on display in Vegas, hard questions around technological change remain. In particular, leaders across government, academia, and industry still need better solutions to employment impacts as AI and automation spreads. Without addressing this massive challenge, public opinion may turn against the tech powering breakthrough innovations. Striking the right balance remains critical.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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