Bank warns over AI job losses

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty
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Artificial intelligence has the potential to wipe out thousands of UK jobs, the Bank of England’s chief economist has warned.

Andy Haldane said the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution will see “the machine replacing humans doing thinking things.

“The first three industrial revolutions have been about largely machines replacing humans doing principally manual tasks, whereas the fourth will be different.

“All of a sudden it will be the machine replacing humans doing thinking things, as well as doing things,” Haldane told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He added that the “hollowing-out” in the past could be on a greater scale in the future.

His comments echo those of the Bank’s governor, Mark Carney, who has previously spoken about large-scale technological disruption to the jobs market.

Haldane added: “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.

“It has not been a feature of the past, but could it possibly be a feature of the future? I think that is a much more open question than at any previous point possibly in history.”

Earlier this year, Edinburgh was chosen as one of Britain’s premier hubs to develop artificial intelligence (AI) projects.

A base will be launched out of the University of Edinburgh to house AI and blockchain start-up companies in a £1.6 million investment. As many as 20 firms will be appointed each year from next month.

The initiative is the first of its kind in Scotland and is a joint partnership between Edinburgh University, Telefonica’s innovation platform Wayra UK and Scottish Enterprise.