Jobs replaced by AI ‘inevitable’ says UK’s taskforce head
The head of the UK government’s AI taskforce has admitted that it will be “inevitable” that more jobs will become automated.
In an interview with the BBC, Ian Hogarth, who is five weeks into his role as head of AI, said: “There will be winners or losers on a global basis in terms of where the jobs are as a result of AI.”
In May, UK telecoms giant BT said that it was to replace 10,000 of its jobs with AI after revealing that it is cutting 55,000 of its 130,000 employees.
Plus, big tech corporation IBM also released a statement saying that it is not hiring new employees, with the idea that AI could replace nearly 8,000 of its jobs too.
In the interview, Hogarth told the BBC that the aim of the government’s new taskforce is to help it “better understand the risks associated with these frontier AI systems”.
The AI adviser said that expert warnings of AI’s potential to become an existential threat should not be ignored, even though it divides opinion.
But Hogarth also took care to point out the positive benefits of AI, particularly in healthcare environments such as discovering new antibiotics, identifying breast cancer signs in scans, and helping people with brain damage regain movement.
Using AI as a means of reducing some of a role’s more repetitive tasks is a common view shared by many.
“AI should work alongside humans in the workplace, supporting and automating repetitive manual tasks to enable staff to focus on higher-level activities that require human interactions, lending itself as an extremely useful business tool,” said Sridhar Iyengar, managing director of software firm Zoho Europe.
“We have recently seen leaders from governments come together to discuss ethical AI and regulation development. This combined global approach must continue in order to fuel public belief and trust,” Iyengar added.
Last month, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the UK will host “the first major global summit on AI safety”.
“We want to make the UK not just the intellectual home but the geographical home of global AI safety regulation,” Sunak stated.
Hogarth also acknowledged the lack of access to graphics cards needed for startups to develop their own AI.
GPUs (general processing units) are something that Hogarth hopes to make as accessible as electricity cables or road networks. A shortage of GPUs was caused by intensive crypto mining fuelled by the crypto boom over the last few years.
This was also exacerbated by the pandemic. The shortage in cards led to a process called scalping: people buying up as many cards as they could and selling them at inflated prices.
“I think we’re going to enter a phase in which nation states start to see their role in directing critical AI infrastructure in a new way,” Hogarth concluded, adding: “It is going to be a fundamental building block for the next generation of innovation.”
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