AI a threat to jobs warns Bank of England

Posted on 13 Sep 2018 and read 839 times
AI a threat to jobs warns Bank of EnglandA report by the economics editor of BBC News, Kamal Ahmed, says the chief economist of the Bank of England has warned that the UK will need a skills revolution to avoid “large swathes” of people becoming “technologically unemployed” as artificial intelligence (AI) makes many jobs obsolete.

Andy Haldane said the possible disruption of what is known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) could be harsher than anything felt during the First Industrial Revolution, adding that he had seen a widespread “hollowing out” of the jobs market, rising inequality, social tensions and many people struggling to make a living.

He also said it is important to learn the “lessons of history” and ensure that people were given the training to take advantage of the new jobs that would become available.

Talking to Mr Ahmed for the Today programme, Mr Haldane said: “Each of those [industrial revolutions had a wrenching and lengthy impact on the jobs market, on the lives and livelihoods of large swathes of society.

"Jobs were effectively taken by machines of various types, there was a hollowing out of the jobs market, and that left a lot of people out of work for a lengthy period and struggling to make a living. That heightened social tensions, it heightened financial tensions and led to a rise in inequality.

“That hollowing out is going to be potentially on a much greater scale in the future, when we have machines both thinking and doing — replacing both the cognitive and the technical skills of humans.”

Mr Haldane said that job losses would be compensated for by the creation of new jobs, as a “new technological wave” broke over society, while suggesting that the scale of job loss displacement is likely to be at least as large as that of the first three industrial revolutions — the steam engine, the age of science and mass production, and the rise of digital technology.

“We will need even greater numbers of new jobs to be created in the future, if we are not to suffer this longer-term feature we call technological unemployment.”

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