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AI is creating jobs, not destroying them, say UK business chiefs

Tim Wallace
Robots and artificial intelligence are creating more work for technological specialists, rather than destroying jobs overall, company bosses believe - Getty Images
Robots and artificial intelligence are creating more work for technological specialists, rather than destroying jobs overall, company bosses believe - Getty Images

The nightmare scenario of robots destroying jobs for British workers is nowhere close to coming true, chief executives have claimed. Instead, they say, demand for human workers is growing rapidly because companies need more staff who understand the new technologies.

A total of 71pc of UK chief executives told KPMG that artificial intelligence will create more jobs than it destroys in the short run, a figure which dips only a little to 62pc in the long run.

Data scientists and experts in emerging technologies are in particularly high demand.

KPMG jobs - Credit: KPMG
Overall robots are creating more jobs than they are destroying, according to company bosses Credit: KPMG

“While much has been said about the negative impact of AI on the job market, in the short term we expect it to create jobs in some sectors,” said KPMG’s UK chairman Bill Michael.

“Companies are hiring in technical experts to oversee the implementation of new systems, before they make wholesale changes to their workforce.”

Masayoshi Son, chief executive of Japanese conglomerate Softbank which owns UK tech star Arm Holdings, told the study that in the long run emotional intelligence will be crucial for human work, while manual tasks are taken by robots.

“Humans will continue to do jobs in high-touch segments such as the arts, social enterprises and entertainment, selling and marketing, where humans pull on people’s heartstrings,” he said.

“But I believe that almost all blue-collar workers will be replaced by ‘metal-collar’ workers. By that, I mean robots equipped with intelligence and super-intelligence. They are no longer robots without brains, as they were in the past — they have become smart-robots.”

Fears of a rush to implement an epochal change, overthrowing old business practices and replacing them with new digital systems wholesale are also eased by the study.

Two-thirds of the 1,300 chief executives surveyed said they are prepared to lead huge overhauls of their businesses.

Masayoshi Son - Credit: Aflo/REX/Shutterstock
Softbank's boss Masayoshi Son believes services industry jobs with a focus on emotional intelligence will be the biggest employers in the years to come, as robots take physically demanding or mentally dull work Credit: Aflo/REX/Shutterstock

However their boards are getting in the way - 72pc said directors have unreasonable expectations of major digital changes.

Non-executives do not understand the long timescales involved and expect strong quarterly returns even though 64pc of CEOs expect these projects to take between three and five years to complete.

Half are also concerned their existing management team lacks the skills and ability to handle such a transformation.

Bosses also feel the pressure of new technology.

The survey found 59pc expect to be held personally responsible for any loss or theft of customers’ data, a major concern when 49pc believe that becoming the victim of a cyber attack is a case of “when, not if”.