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Bank of England chief economist warns of high unemployment from robots

Tyrone Stewart

Robot AIThe Bank of England’s chief economist has warmed that the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) could make a large number of jobs could be made obsolete, leading to widespread unemployment.

Andy Haldane told the BBC that the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ would be “on a much greater scale” than any of the previous three industrial revolutions – even that of the first one during the Victorian era.

“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,” said Haldane.

“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.”

As a result of the mass unemployment, Haldane says previous industrial revolutions led to the heightening of both social and financial tensions, and led to a rise in inequality. The chief economist warns that this time round the issues could be greater than in the past.

Haldane went on to suggest that job losses would be compensated but “we will need even great numbers of new jobs to be created in the future, if we are not to suffer this long-term feature called technological unemployment”. He also predicts that jobs focused on human interaction and negotiation will flourish, while simple manual jobs will be at a bigger risk.