How to avoid being replaced by robots

19 September 2018

The article at a glance

Balint Bertok, alumnus of the Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship programme (PGDE 2017) at Cambridge Judge Business School, recently gave a TEDx talk …

Category: Insight

Balint Bertok, alumnus of the Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship programme (PGDE 2017) at Cambridge Judge Business School, recently gave a TEDx talk about artificial intelligence (AI) in Cergy-Pontoise, France.

Balint Bertok.
Balint Bertok

A native of Budapest, Balint studied Business and Management at ESSEC Business School in France before coming to study for the PGDE, offered by the Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge. He is co-founder and CEO of, which is building a platform that uses machine learning to help digital advertisers to rank higher on Google’s results page through increasing ad relevance and proactive quality score management.

Here are Balint’s insights – adapted from the TEDx ESSEC Business School talk “AI: How to Avoid Being Replaced by Robots” – where he discusses why we should not fear artificial intelligence and how to prepare for the future:

AI through the prism of human history

“AI is the evolution of automation and let’s look at human history to have a better understanding of it: we can see that for most of history people have been in agriculture – they planted crops and vegetables, and worked in the field. Productivity was very low, but the system was working. Eventually people started rotating crops and inventing tools in order to ease work in the field; productivity levels started to rise; and fewer people were needed for the same amount to be produced. And jobs were lost. However, new better-paying jobs appeared because those tools needed to be built and sold, which resulted in an overall average rise in living standards.

“Then came the Industrial Revolution, where mass-production machines ‘took’ people’s jobs in factories. And finally the Information Age, where we compete with machines again. Although we hope innovation will provide us with new and better jobs and improve our living standards, everything is changing so fast that it might not be so simple this time around. Our ancestors had the luxury of having several generations to adapt to the new economy, but we barely have a couple of years. After the invention of the car, it took a long time, even a half-century to completely replace the industry’s link to horse. Fast forward to today, and Netflix drove Blockbuster to the ground in a couple of years in the video and content sphere.”

AI can help tackle inequality

“There are a few solutions that could help tackle this problem: firstly, governments could focus on innovation-heavy industries that create a lot of highly specialised jobs. Regardless of what you think about bitcoin, the technology behind it – blockchain – is revolutionary and has already created countless new, very highly specialised jobs. Another solution is the introduction of a Universal Basic Income so people would have the possibility to learn new skills and have time to adapt without risking going into poverty. And on a more individual level, allow me to give you some advice: learn to code if you haven’t already. It is not difficult to learn and this knowledge will help people to stay relevant in their careers for the coming decades.”

Machines and people can be ‘friends’

“Humans and machines are not necessarily incompatible and are simply good at different things, according to PayPal founder Peter Thiel. One example is the Da Vinci Surgical System, a robot designed to enhance human surgeons’ capabilities and make operations faster and safer. People realised that it was more productive to empower medics than replace them by robots altogether. This shows that human-machine hybrid systems can increase productivity.

“I am a fan of AI. We live in an awesome information age: leverage it, and use it to innovate and to create for yourselves the jobs for the new economy.”