Economists believe that automation's impact on jobs - commonly known as Industry 4.0 - will be faster and more disruptive than previous revolutions, due to the pace of change in modern technology.
However, Mark Carney - governor of the Bank of England - says that some jobs are simply not suitable to being replaced by machines.
"Every technological revolution mercilessly destroys jobs and livelihoods - and therefore identities - well before the new ones emerge," Carney said at an event in Dublin on Friday, according to the FT.
However, the prevailing feeling among technologists is that new jobs will emerge to replace those that are lost, and jobs that remain will be more productive.
The World Economic Forum said today, the 17th of September, that automation will create about 133 million jobs worldwide over the next 10 years, compared to about 75 million that will be replaced.
Carney said the worst estimates of job losses are too extreme - even highlighting research that the BoE's own in-house economists have used.
Oxford professors Carl Frey and Michael Osborne famously predicted that almost half of jobs in the USA could be replaced by automation in their 2013 paper, 'The Future of Employment'. Two years later, BoE chief economist Andy Haldane said that as many as 15 million jobs in could be at risk in the UK, and 80 million in the USA.
Haldane reiterated his warning last month, when he said that AI and automation could disrupt the jobs market "on a much greater scale" than anything that has come before.
However, Carney cited research predicting a much more modest impact of around 5 million jobs: about 10 per cent of the UK workforce. Rather than replacing jobs, he expects automation to change them, instead.
In addition, the research states that automation does not always make economic sense: a human bartender could be cheaper and more versatile than a machine, as well as able to build a rapport with customers.
There will be some impact on the economy, Carney admitted. Even with a fairly smooth transition, the total amount of hours worked could fall by two per cent over a 30-year period: equivalent to a two percentage point rise in unemployment.
Central banks cannot prevent these changes, but will adjust monetary policy to suit. The BoE is aware that, while automation could boost productivity, it may also cause disinflation - as job losses would affect demand and workers would have lower bargaining power.
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