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7IM Short Thoughts: Paranoid about androids?

Ben Kumar, Head of Equity Strategy24 May 2023

There is a lot of chat about AI at the moment - in the news, in the workplace, on social media, and especially around the impact on the working population. It can feel scary to see thousands of jobs being replaced and new technology being implemented.

But if we look back to just over 100 years ago, the world had to adjust to a similar scenario when Henry Ford drove blacksmiths out of their jobs. Most blacksmiths, however, adapted to the circumstances and became factory workers.

In the latest Short Thoughts, Ben Kumar, Head of Equity Strategy, looks at what history can teach us about change.


Change is always scary and big change is even scarier. Look at the fuss that there is on LinkedIn or in the world at the moment about AI coming for people's jobs. People are genuinely getting really terrified about this. Looking at history, though, we can see that this has happened before. If you look at 1900, there were over 200,000 blacksmiths in the United States.

Everyone used horses. Everyone needed horseshoes. But then Henry Ford came along, said, ‘Horses are dumb. We want cars.’ Blacksmiths were furious. They were scared. They were rioting. They were protesting. A couple of decades later, though, most of those same blacksmiths were working in Ford or other car manufacturers’ factories. They were doing similar jobs on the production line. An opportunity had been created, as well as blacksmiths struggling.

So when we see all this fuss about AI today, although it can feel scary, the thing to do is not to go out and short horseshoes and be scared. It is to look for the opportunities. And if you can, invest in them.

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