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AI Will not be a “Mass Destroyer of Jobs” Says Bank of England

AI Will not be a “Mass Destroyer of Jobs” Says Bank of England
06 February 2024
 

The governor of the Bank of England predicts that society will “learn to work with” AI rather than it becoming a "mass destroyer of jobs.”

 

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In an interview with the BBC, governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey said: “Economies adapt, jobs adapt, and we learn to work with it. And I think, you get a better result by people with machines than with machines on their own.”

The governor made the comments after a House of Lords committee report claimed that the UK will miss the “AI goldrush” unless the government adopts a more positive vision.

Much of the conversation around AI is focused on discussions around how this technology will fit into our society, and particularly the idea that we may be building something that will eventually outstrip human understanding. The Communications and Digital Committee defines this as the “Goldilocks” problem, where, with limited foresight of market developments, innovation and risk must be balanced. 

The report says that the UK has become “too focused on a narrow view of AI safety.” It highlights that the risks around large language models and its threats to human existence are exaggerated and must not distract policy makers from responding to more immediate issues.

The authors of the report feel that initial disruption would give way to enhanced productivity, and found no plausible evidence of imminent widespread AI‑induced unemployment.

 

Collaborative Robots

 

The relationship between the cleaning industry and AI could be considered a best-in-class example of people and machines working together for the better. The global cobotics market is expected to reach nearly £10 billion by 2026, and according to Stefano Bensi, General Manager at SoftBank Robotics EMEA, cobots provide the ideal case study for robots and humans working side by side without barriers:

“Let’s take the cleaning industry as an example. Cobots support cleaning teams by completing often physical, time-intensive, and repetitive work such as cleaning large floor surface areas. This is a great example of why they’re ‘collaborative’. They’re not stealing the cleaner’s job. Instead, they are enhancing it by taking on these not-so-desirable parts of the job. 

“With those tasks completed, cleaners can tend to more specific areas of cleaning such as hard to reach areas, or focusing on specifics where they know value is added for the customer.”

Image

Picture: a photograph of Stefano Bensi. Image Credit: SoftBank Robotics

 

The committee outlines ten core recommendations including measures to boost opportunities, address risks, support effective regulatory oversight and ensure open competition and avoid market dominance by established companies.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston, Chair of the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee, said: “The rapid development of AI Large Language Models is likely to have a profound effect on society, comparable to the introduction of the internet. That makes it vital for the Government to get its approach right and not miss out on opportunities – particularly not if this is out of caution for far-off and improbable risks. We need to address risks in order to be able to take advantage of the opportunities – but we need to be proportionate and practical. We must avoid the UK missing out on a potential AI goldrush.”

“One lesson from the way technology markets have developed since the inception of the internet is the danger of market dominance by a small group of companies. The Government must ensure exaggerated predictions of an AI driven apocalypse, coming from some of the tech firms, do not lead it to policies that close down open-source AI development or exclude innovative smaller players from developing AI services. We must be careful to avoid regulatory capture by the established technology companies in an area where regulators will be scrabbling to keep up with rapidly developing technology.”

Picture: a photograph of a robot with human features (eyes and a mouth) looking up at the camera. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 06 February 2024

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