Economists may be underestimating the impact on labor markets of increasing automation and the rise of artificial intelligence, according to a post on the Bank of England’s staff blog.
“The potential for simultaneous and rapid disruption, coupled with the breadth of human functions that AI might replicate, may have profound implications for labor markets,” BOE regional agents Mauricio Armellini and Tim Pike wrote. “Economists should seriously consider the the possibility that millions of people may be at risk of unemployment.”
Robots and intelligent machines threaten to replace workers in industries from finance to retail to haulage, with BOE Chief Economist Andrew Haldane estimating in 2015 that 15 million British jobs and 80 million in the U.S. could be lost. Past periods of technological upheaval may not be a useful guide as the pace of change was slower.