Analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said the UK was facing a “sliding doors” moment around its implementation of generative AI, and called on the UK government to ensure that a fair industrial strategy was in place, reported PA Media.

The report identified two key stages of generative AI adoption: the first wave, which is already under way, and a second wave in which companies will more deeply integrate AI tech into their processes – a stage at which it suggests as many as 59 per cent of tasks done by workers could be vulnerable to being replaced by AI automation if no intervention occurs, Bernama reported.

It said that back office, entry level and part-time jobs were at the highest risk of being disrupted during the first wave – including secretarial, customer service and administrative roles – with women and young people the most likely to be affected as they are more likely to be in those roles.

Those on lower wages were also identified as being the most exposed to being replaced by AI.

The study’s worst case scenario for the second wave of AI would be around 7.9 million job losses and no gross domestic product gains (GDP).

However, the report suggests that if government and industry are proactive in protecting workers as the use of AI increases, there could be substantial economic benefits.

Its best case scenario for the second wave said no jobs would be lost as they are augmented to work alongside AI, which it claimed could lead to an economic boost of 13 per cent to GDP, around £306 billion (US$386 billion) a year.

Carsten Jung, senior economist at the IPPR, said: “Already existing generative AI could lead to big labor market disruption or it could hugely boost economic growth, either way it is set to be a game changer for millions of us.

“Many firms are already investing in it, and it has potential to speed up many more tasks as more businesses adopt it.

“Over the next five years it could transform knowledge work.

“The question now is less whether AI can be useful, but rather how fast and in what manner employers will use it.

“History shows that technological transition can be a boon if well managed, or can end in disruption if left to unfold without controls.

“Indeed, some occupations could be hard hit by generative AI, starting with back office jobs.

“But technology isn’t destiny and a jobs apocalypse is not inevitable – government, employers and unions have the opportunity to make crucial design decisions now that ensure we manage this new technology well.

“If they don’t act soon, it may be too late.”

The IPPR report recommends a job-centric industrial strategy for AI be put in place, including tax incentives and subsidies to encourage training of staff in AI so they can work alongside the technology rather than be replaced by it, as well as regulatory change to ensure human responsibility of key issues, such as in healthcare.

The Government is yet to bring forward any legislation specifically aimed at the rise of AI, but last month did announce plans to spend more than £90 million on new AI research hubs across the UK that will look into ways of using AI responsibly across areas such as healthcare, chemistry and mathematics.

Those plans were announced as part of a wider package of more than £100 million in the Government response to a consultation on its own AI Regulation White Paper, which was first published last year.

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