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 makes many jobs obsolete.
Andy Haldane, speaking to BBC Radio 4, said the possible disruption of what is known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution could be “on a much greater scale” than anything felt during the First Industrial Revolution of the Victorian era.
“Given that the scale of job loss, job displacement is likely to be at least as large as that of the first three industrial revolutions, 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 called technological unemployment.” he commented in the Today Programme.
However, he added that jobs that focused on skills of human interaction, face-to-face conversation and negotiation would be likely to flourish.
He said it was important to learn the “lessons of history”, ensuring that training programmes were fit to help workers retrain in future-proofed skills such as data science.
Threats and Opportunities
Mr Haldane’s comments echo those of the Bank’s Governor, Mark Carney, who has previously spoken about large-scale technological disruption and were also reinforced by the new head of the government’s advisory council on artificial intelligence, Tabitha Goldstaub, who warned of the risk of implementing AI within the workplace.
Conversely, Ms Goldstaub said there were as many opportunities as there were challenges to face.
Speaking to the BBC she added, “The challenge we have now is ensuring our workforce is ready for that change.
“There is a hopeful view [based] on the fact that a lot of these jobs [that disappear] are boring, mundane, unsafe, drudgery – there could be some element of liberation from some of these jobs and a move towards a brighter world.”