Alibaba's Jack Ma: Stop training kids for manufacturing jobs

By Julia Horowitz, for CNNtech

Sep 21, 2017

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Jack Ma knows artificial intelligence will change the world. The Alibaba founder and chairman doesn't think we should be scared. But he does think we should be prepared for major disruptions to the job market.

"In the last 200 years, manufacturing [has brought] jobs. But today -- because of the artificial intelligence, because of the robots -- manufacturing is no longer the main engine of creating jobs," Ma said Wednesday in a speech at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City.

Moving forward, Ma said he believes the service industry will be the largest engine of job creation. Ma's stance is starkly different from the economic vision espoused President Donald Trump, who campaigned on an "America First" populist agenda and has repeatedly made promises to restore U.S. manufacturing jobs.

"Talking about manufacturing, we should not be talking Made in China, Made in America," Ma said. "It's going to be 'Made in Internet.'"

But Ma sees a major obstacle: He doesn't believe the world's current approach to education properly prepares today's youth for the realities of tomorrow's work. "The way we teach ... is going to be making our kids [lose] jobs [in] the next 30 years," he said. He noted that when it comes to tasks like calculation, machines will always "do better."

The key to keeping human workers relevant will be emphasizing imagination, according to Ma.

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