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UK government must address the impact of robots and AI on workforce

(Image credit: Image Credit: Tatiana Shepeleva / Shutterstock)

According to a new report by the UK's Science and Technology Committee, the government needs to address how robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will affect the job market in order to prevent the risk of millions of employees being left jobless.

Earlier this year, the committee launched an inquiry into the UK's adoption of AI and came to the conclusion that the government does not have a clear strategy in place to take full advantage of AI and robotics for the country's economic benefit.

The jobs that are at risk from these new technologies include medical workers, truck drivers, bank tellers, seamstresses as well as countless other jobs from various industries. Though a future controlled by robots is far off, the report found the preparations the government has made so far to be “lacking.”
The committee is urging the government to begin to tackle the social and ethical problems that could arise due to the adoption of robotics on a large scale. It also urged the government to create a commission responsible for exploring the potential problems that could occur from the implementation of AI.

Acting Science and Technology Committee chairwoman, Dr. Tania Mathias, is pushing for the committee to be set up at the Alan Turing Institute. She believes the aim of the institute should be “to identify principles for governing and the development and application of AI, and to foster public debate.”

Dr. Mathias explained her views on these emerging technologies, saying: “It is conceivable that we will see AI technology creating new jobs over the coming decades while at the same time displacing others.”

The UK firm DeepMind, which is owned by Google, has been consulted by the committee regarding the future of robotics and AI. The firm revealed its stance on these issues in a written submission to the committee, saying: “The impact of AI will reflect the values of those who build it. AI is a tool that we humans will design, control and direct. It is up to us all to direct that tool towards the common good.  Since we cannot yet foresee exactly how these changes will play out, we must respond with a readiness to re-skill and up-skill.

“This requires a commitment by the government to ensure that our education and training systems are flexible, so that they can adapt as opportunities and demands on the workforce change.” 

Image Credit: Tatiana Shepeleva / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.