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Committees Telecommunications, Internet & Media Media Library Event Report

Lunch Discussion with Hal Varian, Chief Economist of Google


Topics: Artifical Intelligence Research, Robotics and the Workplace of the Future

On June 22, AmCham Germany hosted Professor Hal Varian, Google's Chief Economist, at a high-level luncheon at the China Club in Berlin. Professor Varian, best known for his reference works “Microeconomic Analysis” and “Intermediate Microeconomics”, has been with Google since 2002 and has advised the company's leadership on strategy, policy, data privacy and protection as well as competition.

In his introductory remarks, Professor Varian presented the current state of Artificial Intelligence research and highlighted how progress in cloud computing will make AI techniques available to a broader audience. Discussing the idea of “Augmented Intelligence,” Hal Varian elaborated on how big data can be used to provide additional information in performing tasks and thus increase productivity.

On the future of work, participants agreed that robotics could most easily be applied to assembly line jobs, but in many occupations only some tasks can be automated. Even though demand for undifferentiated labor will decrease in the future, the labor force will also grow at a much slower pace given current demographic developments. While these developments might not happen one after another, participants were of the opinion that productivity has to increase in order to maintain today's standard of living.

Professor Varian praised Berlin for its vibrant start-up culture and explained that in order to create a new Silicon Valley, a critical mass of infrastructure, service providers and institutions must be created or enabled. According to Hal Varian, this threshhold has already been crossed in Berlin.

We thank Google Germany for their kind support of this event.

For more information on AmCham Germany's activities in the Telecommunications, Internet and Media fields, check out our TIM Committee.

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