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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

UK jobs will not be lost through AI: report

Think tank says that jobs that earn £290 billion a year in the UK could be automated

Stop working, the robot's got it covered. Reuters
Stop working, the robot's got it covered. Reuters

The failure to invest in artificial intelligence poses a greater threat to Britain than fears of machines taking over the jobs of humans, a new report has found.

Poor management practices and a historic failure to invest means that the absence of robots presents a major challenge to the UK as it seeks to grow a hi-tech economy, according to the centre-left Institute for Public Policy Research.

The report said that jobs earning £290 billion a year could be automated but overall employment was likely to be “reallocated rather than eliminated” with economic output increasing and new sources of wealth created.

It said the critical challenge was in fairly sharing the benefits of a more productive and efficient economy brought about by the technological change.

“Despite the rhetoric of the rise of the robots, machines aren't about to take all our jobs,” said IPPR senior research fellow Mathew Lawrence.

“Managed badly, the benefits of automation could be narrowly concentrated, benefiting those who own capital and highly skilled workers. Inequality would spiral.

“Managed well though, with a strategy to increase adoption of technologies in the everyday economy and new models of ownership to spread the benefits, automation could help create a future of shared economic plenty.”

The report is just the latest about the impact of AI and smart robots on traditional working practices, with low-skilled jobs the most likely to be affected by technological advances.

The Bank of England and Oxford University have suggested that the jobs of nearly half of the 32m working population could be affected. That compared with much lower estimates last year of about nine per cent by the world’s most prominent economic body, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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The IPPR called on the government to set up a body to address and regulate the ethical questions of emerging technologies that plan an increasingly important role in modern societies.

AI is used in virtually every sector including finance, transport, manufacturing, education and the military, raising questions about the use of battlefield weaponry that makes autonomous decisions over life and death.