Britain’s biggest employers are calling for a commission to examine the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs.
Amid predictions of a workplace revolution threatening one in five jobs across the UK, the CBI is urging Theresa May to launch the commission from early 2018. It said companies and trade unions should be involved and the commission should help to set out ways to increase productivity and economic growth as well looking into the impact of AI, The Guardian reports.
The business lobby group said almost half of firms were planning to devote resources to AI, while one in five had already invested in the technology in the past year.
Companies are increasingly using computers to scour vast datasets in order to spot inefficiencies, while they are also employing machines to control the flow of activity in warehouses and factories and to take meter readings. Accountancy firm PwC warned in March that more than 10 million workers may be at risk of being replaced by automation.
While robots could lead to job losses, they could also present opportunities for workers to move into more fulfilling and productive roles. The TUC has been urging the government to use the productivity gains from automation to benefit workers, calling for the reversal of planned changes to the state pension age and more investment in training for employees.
The CBI suggests innovative firms grow twice as fast – both in terms of employment and sales – and that adopting new technology can get the best out of workers. As much as half of labour productivity can be driven by innovation, according to the CBI.
Investment in technology could help bolster Britain’s sputtering record on labour productivity, which is among the worst in the G7 and is failing to improve in line with expectations since the financial crisis.
The Office for Budget Responsibility was forced to downgrade its estimates for labour productivity growth last week, wiping out about two-thirds of the government’s £26bn budget surplus from 2017 to 2021. The development will come as a blow to the chancellor, Philip Hammond, as it will remove headroom for his public spending plans before the budget next month.
Despite the potential for technology to increase productivity, firms are cautious about investing owing to uncertainty over Brexit. Growth in business investment was flat in the three months to June, the latest official figures show.