The chief economist of the Bank of England has warned that in order to avoid large segments of the working class becoming “technologically unemployed” (replaced by AI), the UK will need to undergo a revolution in skills, reports the BBC

Andy Haldane says that a disruptive “Fourth Industrial Revolution” could be on a “much greater scale” than anything experienced during the Industrial Revolution, which lasted from 1760 – 1940. 

Handane warns of a widespread “hollowing out” of jobs, rising inequality and social tension as people struggle to make due. 

It was important to learn the “lessons of history”, he argued, and ensure that people were given the training to take advantage of the new jobs that would become available.

He added that in the past a safety net such as new welfare benefits had also been provided. –BBC

Meanwhile, the UK government’s chair of the newly formed Artificial Intelligence Council, Tabitha Goldstaub, echoed Haldane’s sentiment, warning of a “huge risk” of people being left without jobs that computers and robots have taken. She says that the challenge will be ensuring that people are prepared for the cultural and economic shifts – and that hte focus would be on creating “the new jobs of the future” in order to replace those at risk of robotic-replacement. 

Mr. Haldane told the BBC: Each of those [industrial revolutions] had a wrenching and lengthy impact on the jobs market, on the lives and livelihoods of large swathes of society,” adding “Jobs were effectively taken by machines of various types, there was a hollowing out of the jobs market, and that left a lot of people for a lengthy period out of work and struggling to make a living.

That heightened social tensions, it heightened financial tensions, it led to a rise in inequality. 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.”

That’s a lot of words, but solutions are elusive

Mr Haldane said that job losses would be compensated for by the creation of new jobs as a “new technological wave” broke over society.

That is a much harder number to begin to estimate or guesstimate,” he said. –BBC

In short – “we’ll think of something” 

“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.

“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.” –BBC

So what’s safe? 

Haldane says that “simple manual jobs would be more at risk,” while jobs that focused on human interaction, face-to-face conversation and negotiation would be more likely to flourish. 

Goldstaub, meanwhile, spoke of great opportunity along with vast challenges. 

“What we have to think about is the time in which this change is happening, and it is definitely happening quicker than ever before,” she said, adding “The challenge we have now is ensuring our workforce is ready for that change.”

“What are the new jobs that will be created whether those are in building new technology, maintaining the new technology or collaborating with the new technology? 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.

“Now that’s not going to be an easy journey, but I do believe there is hope at the end of it all.”

So; specialize in things robots can’t easily imitate (yet), expect civil unrest and greater inequality, and trust that a “new technological wave” will save us all. 

Also, don’t get out of line or Bezos will sic his dog on you:

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