Britain faces social unrest as swathes of people are set to lose their jobs in robot revolution, Bank of England’s chief economist warns

  • Bank of England’s chief economist has warned of impact of coming AI revolution
  • Andy Haldane said ‘swathes’ of jobs could go as people replaced by robots
  • Urged major skills drive to ensure people could take opportunities of the change

Britain faces the threat of social unrest as robots take ‘swathes’ of jobs, the Bank of England’s chief economist warned today.

Andy Haldane said the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution will see ‘the machine replacing humans doing thinking things’.

He cautioned that the ‘dark side’ of the change could be disruption on a much bigger scale than in Victorian times, with professions such as accountancy among those at risk.

The stark message came amid calls for a massive skills drive to find employment for those set to be affected by the next wave of automation.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Haldane said: ‘The first three industrial revolutions have been about largely machines replacing humans doing principally manual tasks, whereas the fourth will be different.

‘All of a sudden it will be the machine replacing humans doing thinking things, as well as doing things.’

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A report by the accountancy firm PwC last month warned that more than 7million jobs in Britain could be lost over the next 20 years as technological change sweeps through workplaces.

The overwhelming majority of these are in jobs in the retail, transport and manufacturing industries.

However, other traditional professional sectors could also be at serious risk.

The losses are likely to be offset by new roles, with health predicted to be among the boom areas.

Economists tag the arrival of increasingly intelligent computers as the fourth industrial revolution. The first was said to be the shift from agricultural to urban societies, the second saw the widespread use of electricity and steel, and the third was the digital revolution when computers, the internet and mobile phones were developed.


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