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Up to 8 million jobs at risk if government fails to properly regulate AI, report warns

UP TO eight million jobs are at risk if government fails to put in place an industrial strategy for artificial intelligence (AI), a report warned today.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that as more employers integrate AI technology into their work processes, up to 59 per cent of tasks would be hit without government intervention, leaving the low-skilled most exposed.

Back office, entry level and part-time jobs are at the highest risk of being disrupted in a so-called first wave, with women and young people the most likely to be affected as a result, the think tank said.

Carsten Jung, senior economist at the IPPR, said: “History shows that technological transition can be a boon if well managed, or can end in disruption if left to unfold without controls.”

The analysis showed the effects of generative AI are already being widely felt as 11 per cent of tasks done by workers are currently exposed.

While the “worst case scenario” would provide no benefit to gross domestic product (GDP), the report said, an industrial strategy that placed an emphasis on protecting key human functions through regulation and that aimed to unlock investment could lead to an economic boost of 13 per cent to GDP, around £306 billion a year.

The government is however yet to bring forward any legislation specifically aimed at the rise of AI.

Last September the TUC launched an expert AI taskforce that aims to draft new legal protections for both workers and employers, hoping publish a draft “AI and Employment Bill” this year and lobby to have it incorporated into British law.

TUC Assistant General Secretary Kate Bell said the report makes clear that “we're at a critical moment in the AI transformation of work”.

“The risk of potential job losses is real, but it doesn't have to be this way,” she added.

“Workers and unions must be put at the heart of the change process, with a strong say through consultation and collective bargaining.

“This will ensure that the power of AI is directed towards enhancing jobs, making the world of work a better place for all, instead of threatening livelihoods.

“The government also needs to urgently invest in skills and re-training for workers and update our employment laws to ensure workers are protected from exploitation and discrimination. AI is already making life-changing decisions about the way millions work – but UK employment law is way behind the curve.”

The Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology said: “This research is hugely speculative.

“There are numerous reports which also predict AI will spark a huge creation in jobs, unlocking further growth and ramping up productivity.”

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