Dramatic, speculative headlines about artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous robots have occupied the media with increasing frequency and are crowding the policy landscape. While the focus has been on the impacts of AI on the labour market, less research addresses how choices about the design, development and deployment of technology impact quality of work, demand for skills and the creation of new jobs.
This Briefing Paper and full Working Paper are based on the findings of a survey of over 1000 UK firms (coupled with multiple secondary sources) that attempts to understand what influences AI adoption, and what causes different work outcomes as a result of their adoption.
Forming part of the Pissarides Review into the Future of Work and Wellbeing, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the findings here support research from other workstreams that - though we are at a critical juncture - the outcome of this technological transformation is not yet determined and that a future where innovation and social good advance together is achievable.
However, what this study also finds is that urgent action is required because the pace of technological change is so great. Governments, employers and employees must all be active agents. If handled poorly, the evidence presented here is that automation's transformation of the labour market could exacerbate existing regional and demographic inequalities and could lead to serious erosions in job quality, with all of the other negative impacts that that will bring.
“This report not only highlights that the adoption of AI is well underway across UK firms, but that it is possible for this tech transformation to lead to both net job creation, and more ‘good work’ - great news as we look to solve the UK’s productivity puzzle.
“We now have clear evidence that securing more jobs, and better-quality ones, can be achieved with regional investment in education and infrastructure to make every area of the UK ‘innovation ready’ and by firms committing to engaging workers when investing in automation and AI.”
“With the AI Summit fast approaching, Government must act urgently to regulate, legislate and invest so that UK firms and workers can benefit from this fast-moving technology.” - Anna Thomas, Co-Founder and Director, IFOW
“The labour market is changing rapidly as a result of automation. As AI systems are adopted, good work and the creation of good jobs must be at the heart of an economic and industrial strategy, and this report for the review into the Future of Work and Wellbeing that I am leading, with funding from the Nuffield Foundation, points the way to how this could be achieved.” - Professor Sir Christopher Pissarides, Nobel Laureate and Co-Founder, IFOW
“Realising the benefits of technologies like AI for all will mean getting the right foundations in place across areas like digital infrastructure and skills provision in every part of the UK to enable and create high-quality digital jobs. Access to good digital infrastructure, as well as skills and talent, is a priority for techUK members, and the Institute’s work provides welcome insights into their importance for creating good work throughout the country.” - Matt Robinson, Head of Nations and Regions, techUK