Workers must be readied for AI revolution, says Bank of England

Without better training, there may be a huge rise in the “technologically unemployed”, warns top BOE economist Andy Haldane

Singou Technology Ltd. Singou Guard 1 robots participate in a demonstration at the World Robot Conference in Beijing, China, on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. The conference runs through to Aug. 19. Photographer: Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg

The rise of artificial intelligence means the UK must ramp up skills training to avoid “large swathes” of the population becoming “technologically unemployed,” according to the Bank of England’s chief economist.

Britain should learn from history to understand the "dark side" of technological change, Andy Haldane told the BBC Today programme. He warned that the possible disruption to jobs and lives from the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution - with machines "both thinking and doing" - could be on a much greater scale than the upheaval seen in the Victorian era.


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Job losses can be compensated for by the creation of new roles, he said in comments made in June and broadcast on Monday. Careers based on social skills such as human interaction, face-to-face conversation and negotiation are likely to flourish as they are hardest for machines to replicate, with simple manual jobs more at risk.

“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,” Mr Haldane said.

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