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article imageRobot to be 'questioned' on impact of AI on jobs

By Tim Sandle     Oct 12, 2018 in Technology
London - As part of an inquiry into the impact of artificial intelligence on employment, a group of British parliamentarians are to 'question' as robot. Behind this are some key questions about the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs.
According to Sky News, a robot is going to be questioned by Members of Parliament, in what is said to be a parliamentary first. The fact that a select committee of the U.K. Parliament is to question a robot has raised a few eyebrows about the meaningfulness of the activity, given that the inquiry is into the current state of artificial intelligence and such technology is someway off from a robot being able to engage in naturalistic conversation.
The appearance of the robot is set out in a press release. The robot is named Pepper and is set to answer questions from the Education Committee on the subject of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the follow-on implications relating to education of developments in artificial intelligence and subsequent employment.
Pepper is part of an international research project funded by the EU and the Japanese government, the BBC reports. As well as questions pitched to the robot, the select committee will also be interviewing human experts in the field of AI and sociology.
Behind this slightly gimmicky feel to the upcoming proceedings there is a serious side to the event, which is the future impact of artificial intelligence on employment. Will AI reduce the number of jobs available or simply change the types of work that people will be engaging in? Are the patterns the same across all sectors of the economy? These are the types of questions that the select committee — which functions to scrutinize the activities of the British government — are grappling with.
The impact of AI on employment remains uncertain and the impact is likely to vary, according to a recent report from McKinsey. According to Digital Journal's review of the report, there will be opportunities and threats depending upon the sector and particular skill sets that workers possess. See the article: "Automation impacting the future workforce."
There are certainly drivers for some businesses to adopt AI, especially in retail and the service sectors. According to a report from Accenture Strategy, those businesses that integrate artificial intelligence effectively could see their revenues climb. The full scope of the report is addressed in a second Digital Journal article titled "How to reshape your workforce in the age of AI."
Of the two reports the Accenture report is more optimistic than the McKinsey one, making the need for political oversight important. AI will disrupt employment trends, even if the full impact cannot be determined, and policymakers need to be in tune with how this future state will play out.
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