Ask LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner which technology trends he’s most excited about, and he’ll instantly rattle off a short list.
Weiner is extremely bullish on conversational computing, including messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WeChat, as well as chat bots, virtual services programmed to simulate human conversation.
“With platforms like WeChat or FB Messenger, you’re starting to see these conversation platforms taking on use cases way beyond communication,” Weiner contended during an appearance on Thursday at the 2016 Strategic Growth Forum in Palm Springs, Calif. “This is increasingly the way people access information.”
Indeed, Facebook’s ( FB) rapidly-growing Messenger service is an excellent example. More than 1 billion people now use Messenger each and every month, increasingly for more than simply sending one another comments and emoji. Over 30,000 bots now run on Messenger letting users scout for apartments online via Trulia ( TRLA) or consult health professionals with HealthTap.
Weiner is also excited about artificial intelligence, or AI, which continues to grow in sophistication and already power a wide-ranging array of products and services, from Amazon’s ( AMZN) Alexa to Siri from Apple ( AAPL) to Google’s ( GOOG) self-driving cars.
“You think about the implications for industries and cities, and it’s pretty mind-blowing,” Weiner said of autonomous driving technologies, in particular.
While all that innovation is exciting, it’s also caused concern among some circles. The World Economic Forum warned this January in a report that the Fourth Industrial Revolution — an age referring to the proliferation of A.I., robots, nanotechnology and 3-D printing, among other technologies — could lead to the loss of up to 5 million jobs in 15 markets including the U.S., China, France and the UK by 2020.
Weiner did not dispute a “fair number of jobs” will be displaced as a result.
“I hope and wish that every time there’s an article about how a factory is going to deploy robots or a major retail establishment, that for every time we talk about that and celebrate innovation, we can also talk about and focus on the people being displaced: how are they doing to be retrained and here are there available. jobs for them,” Weiner said.
Given his position at LinkedIn — the largest social network focused on helping find people jobs — that’s a challenging scenario Weiner can play a significant, positive role in.
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