The Bank of England has weighed into a debate on the looming impact of AI on our lives, most pertinently the jobs market, by calling for a skills revolution to prevent sections of society from becoming ‘technologically unemployed’.
The bank’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, issued his call to action with a prediction that the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution will be of a ‘much greater scale’ than the industrial revolution Britain underwent in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Haldane fears that a failure to adapt to these changes in good time could augur a period of rising inequality, social tension and a ‘hollowing out’ of employment, and argues for new training to be put into place now to prevent such an eventuality from coming to pass.
Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Haldane said: "This is the dark side of technological revolutions and that dark-side has always been there.
"That hollowing out is going to be potentially on a much greater scale in the future, when we have machines both thinking and doing - replacing both the cognitive and the technical skills of humans."
Haldane isn’t entirely pessimistic, however, believing that a new class of jobs could emerge to compensate for those lost. He concedes that any attempt to quantify this counter shift is currently lost in the realms of speculation.
He added: “What we can I think say with some confidence, however, is that given that the scale of job loss displacement it 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.”
Last month Uber, IBM and Microsoft joined a host of corporate heavyweights in telling The Drum how they believed AI would shape future employment.