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Part consultancy, part thinktank, part social enterprise, Halcyon helps you prepare for and respond to personal, organisational and societal change.

Halcyon's 52:52:52 campaign on Twitter will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

To be a catalyst is the ambition most appropriate for those who see the world as being in constant change, and who, without thinking that they control it, wish to influence its direction - Theodore Zeldin

A Mundane Comedy is Dominic Kelleher's new book, which will be published in early 2020. We will be publishing extracts on this site and across social media during the last quarter of 2019. Please feel free to contact us with any questions about the book.

What's Changing? - Automation



Please see below selected recent automation-related change,


See also:


July 2019

  • Manufacturing companies which adopted robots between 1990 and 1998 actually increased the number of (human) jobs by more than 50% in the subsequent two decades, whilst companies which did not adopt robots reduced their jobs by more than 20% over the same time period, according to a new study.
  • report from the Economist’s Intelligence Unit makes it clear where inside companies the push for more automation is overwhelmingly emanating from: the C-Suite. Senior executives are almost universally enthusiastic about automation and AI, whilst their concerns about worker displacement are limited, despite 29% citing ‘employee resistance’ as one of the major barriers to automation. Data privacy and security were also singled out as significant issues holding back automation efforts.


April 2019

  • OECD analysis pointed to the proportion of jobs it deemed to be at high or significant risk of automation. Although most of its members are developed countries, it also included a number of countries deemed to be “emerging” by various organisations, and they are predominantly the ones in the line of fire. Of the 28 OECD countries analysed, the 11 adjudged to have the smallest proportion of jobs at “significant” risk are all developed. In contrast, all 11 emerging countries are among the 17 deemed most vulnerable to job losses.


February 2019


January 2019


December 2018


November 2018

  • Large majorities (74-91%) of people across 10 markets think automation will have a negative impact on employment, reported TrendWatching.


October 2018


September 2018


August 2018

  • Today’s young professionals grew up in an age of mind-boggling technological change, seeing the growth of the internet, the invention of the smartphone, and the development of machine-learning systems, noted the Harvard Business Review. These advances all point toward the total automation of our lives, including the way we work and do business. It’s no wonder, then, that young people are anxious about their ability to compete in the job market. HBR shared seven skills  - including communication, context and teaching - that HBR believes not only makes people unable to be automated, but will make then employable no matter what the future holds. 


July 2018


June 2018





  • Outsourcing is being disrupted by the innovations in robotic process automation, which could cut labour costs and free workers from boring tasks. The implications of this are discussed in a new Raconteur report along with how outsourcing is no longer reserved for big corporations as more start-ups and small business are realising the advantages to be had.
  • In the next few decades, about 56% of all salaried workers in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam could be displaced by automation and advanced technologies, such as 3D printing. That at least is the conclusion of an extensive series of new studies by the International Labour Organisation.

June 2016


  • Asking "what’s the future of the workplace?", an MIT professor predicted that new technologies will enable more decentralised decision making and ultimately more freedom in business.




May 2016





  • INSEAD considered whether an unconditional, universal “citizen’s income” could ensure a fairer distribution of the benefits of technology and transform economies in the process. Although digital technologies, robotics and artificial intelligence continue transforming the way we work, produce and live, technological change is no longer unanimously viewed as the undisputable driver of prosperity as it was in the past. The benefits of technology are increasingly flowing to the top one percent of the socioeconomic pyramid at the expense of workers. Technology is at least partly responsible for a polarisation of jobs in many developed countries: a decline of middle-skill occupations accompanied by the growth in both high and low-skilled occupations, with the high-skilled earning more and the low-skilled earning less. There are more and more voices pointing out that this winner-takes-all society will inevitably give way to a new social contract as social inequalities increase. Certainly, letting innovation and the more productive firms flourish is good for the economy. But the divergence between productivity and wages suggests that it is time to re-think how to distribute the benefits of technology.










April 2016









  • Business Insider found that 1.3 million industrial robots would be installed between 2015 and 2018, and this would more than double the stock of active robots around the world. While many of those robots will be used in the automotive and electronics sectors, there are many other roles that robots will be filling in the future. According to McKinsey, not all of these jobs are low-skill, low-wage jobs, either. McKinsey ran a comprehensive study of nearly 800 different jobs in the US, ranging from CEOs to fast food workers. Between these roles, they found 2,000 individual work activities, and assessed them against 18 different capabilities that could potentially be automated. In its analysis, McKinsey found that 45% of work activities representing $2 trillion in wages can already by automated based on proven technology that currently exists.







March 2016





  • If the machines are taking all the jobs, how come so many people are working? So asked strategy+business, focusing on the US market. The unemployment rate is at 4.9 percent. There are 143.6 million Americans with payroll jobs, a record. The number of first-time unemployment claims is down more than 10 percent from last year, and is bumping along at levels not seen since the 1970s. Oh, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 5.5 million job openings in America, close to a record. All at a time when rapid technological change and adoption are destroying jobs. It’s a strange dichotomy, the magazine concludes.





  • In 'The Upside of Automating Part of Your Job', the Harvard Business Review argued that while many processes are being automated, fewer than 5% of jobs are likely to be fully automated, and machines will do the things you didn't want to do anyway.







  • In The Robots Are Coming for Wall Street, The New York Times warned that hundreds of financial analysts are already being replaced with software, and asked which office jobs are next.



  • The race to provide robo-advice is accelerating, claimed the Financial Times. Fund managers, banks, brokers and financial advisers are all adapting their business models to fend off the competitive threat of automated online investment services. Although still a fledgling industry, robo-advice has rapidly become a priority for some of the world’s largest asset managers. They recognise the potential for low-cost online advice to attract new audiences, particularly the young.




February 2016









  • The professor of computational engineering at Rice University in Houston claimed that the rate at which robots and intelligent machines are mastering human jobs could leave more than half of the US population unemployed within 30 years. Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Professor Vardi warned: “We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task. I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us.”





See also:


  • Better Living Through Robots - Businessweek








January 2016







  • In the 'A World Without Work?' session at Davos, the panel discussed how rapid technological progress and the prospect of longer, healthier lives will revolutionise work.



Image removed.


  • As automation sweeps across the world, we face challenging questions about how we work - and how we play. On the one hand, we are designing ourselves out of ever more jobs, leaving us disengaged. On the other hand, games and countless internet-enabled game-like activities are powerfully addictive. Is designing work to be more like play the answer or is there something fundamental about human abilities that we’re overlooking in how we deploy technology in our lives? In a new Aeon interview, a leading UK writer discussed what it means to be our best selves in a time of automation.







December 2015

















  • China is laying the groundwork for a robot revolution by planning to automate the work currently done by millions of low-paid workers. The government’s plan will be crucial to a broader effort to reform China’s economy while also meeting the ambitious production goals laid out in its latest economic blueprint, which aims to double per capita income by 2020 from 2016 levels with at least 6.5% annual growth. The success of this effort could, in turn, affect the vitality of the global economy. The scale and importance of China’s robot ambitions were made clear when the vice president of the People’s Republic of China, Li Yuanchao, appeared at the country’s first major robotics conference, held recently in Beijing.



  • Real estate billionaire Jeff Greene warned that technology will kill white-collar jobs. He says new forms of technology will only exacerbate the growing gap between the rich and the poor, because, he claims, we have left ourselves unprepared for the inevitable automation of many jobs traditionally done by humans. He said: “What globalisation did to blue collar jobs and the working class economy over the past 30 or 40 years, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics will do to the white collar economy - and at a much, much faster pace.”






November 2015









  • Looking at the next wave of automation and its impact on employment, McKinsey suggested it is not just low wage, low skilled jobs at risk - the threat goes all the way up to the CEO. McKinsey said, “The potential of artificial intelligence and advanced robotics to perform tasks once reserved for humans is no longer reserved for spectacular demonstrations by the likes of IBM’s Watson, Rethink Robotics’ Baxter, DeepMind, or Google’s driverless car. Very few occupations will be automated in their entirety in the near or medium term. Rather, certain activities are more likely to be automated, requiring entire business processes to be transformed, and jobs performed by people to be redefined". Not only low-skill, low-wage roles, but also the highest-paid occupations in the economy, such as financial managers, physicians, and senior executives, including CEOs, have a significant amount of activity that can be automated.







  • In Robots may shatter the global economic order within a decade, The Telegraph warned that robots could take over 45% of all jobs in manufacturing and shave $9 trillion off labour costs within a decade, leaving great swathes of the global society on the historical scrap heap. Bank of America predicts that robots and other forms of artificial intelligence will transform the world beyond recognition as soon as 2025, shattering old business models in a whirlwind of “creative disruption”, with transformation effects ultimately amounting to $30 trillion or more each year.




October 2015






  • In One Algorithm to Rule Them All, strategy+business argued that we’ll likely see is unemployment creeping up, downward pressure on the wages of more and more professions, and increasing rewards for the fewer and fewer that can’t yet be automated.



  • In Will automation replace our jobs?, the professor of management practice at London Business School, discussed the impact of automation trends in the workplace, and in particular how this will affect the work of internal communicators.



  • KPMG’s recent piece, Bots in the Back Office: The Coming Wave of Digital Labour explored the ‘withering’ BPO industry. KPMG’s report said “The concept of labor arbitrage as the primary value lever of business process outsourcing (BPO) is dying. The geographic discussion is giving way to automation."



  • On the Edge of Automation: five hundred years from now, says venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, fewer than 10 percent of people on the planet will be doing paid work - Technology Review






September 2015











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January-March 2015