The UK government must do more to address how robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will affect the job market to avoid the risk of millions of Brits being left out of work, according to a report by the Science and Technology Committee.
The committee, which launched an inquiry earlier this year into the UK's take-up of AI, said that the government does not have a clear strategy on how to maximise AI and robotics for economic benefit, which could see millions of Brits losing their jobs as the use of automation increases.
MPs claimed that jobs at risk include everything from medical workers and lorry drivers, to bank tellers and seamstresses.
The damning report also found that, although there is "some way to go before we see systems and robots as portrayed in films like Star Wars", the government's role in preparing for the change is "lacking".
The committee said that more must be done to tackle the social and ethical problems posed by robots, and urged the government to set up a commission on AI to look at potential problems that the science could create.
Dr Tania Mathias, acting Science and Technology Committee chairwoman, wants the commission to be set up at the Alan Turing Institute "to identify principles for governing the development and application of AI, and to foster public debate".
"It is conceivable that we will see AI technology creating new jobs over the coming decades while at the same time displacing others," she said.
One of the companies consulted by the committee is Google-owned UK firm DeepMind, which has more than 250 researchers working on AI in its London base.
The company said in a written submission to the committee: “The impact of AI will reflect the values of those who build it. AI is a tool that we humans will design, control and direct. It is up to us all to direct that tool towards the common good.
"Since we cannot yet foresee exactly how these changes will play out, we must respond with a readiness to re-skill and up-skill.
"This requires a commitment by the government to ensure that our education and training systems are flexible, so that they can adapt as opportunities and demands on the workforce change."
Sue Daley, head of big data and analytics at TechUK, welcomed the report. "Like all new powerful technologies, robotics and AI will bring great changes, and it is essential that they are used in a way that enhances the lives of ordinary people and strengthens the society that we live in," she said.
"Business, academia, citizens and government all have a role to play in ensuring that we have an informed and balanced debate about the potential impact of these new technologies and how we can all benefit from their development and use."
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