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Report suggests new laws to protect workers against advance of AI

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A new report from the International Bar Association (IBA) suggests that new laws should be brought in to replace ‘outdated’ existing legal frameworks regulating employment and safety.

According to the report, the speed of changes in technology, specifically artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, means that jobs at all levels in society that currently undertaken by humans are at risk.

Therefore, the report’s author suggests that, in some cases, new labour and employment legislation is urgently needed to keep pace with the increased automation.

The report argues that the competitive advantage of poorer, emerging economies that reply on cheaper workforces will soon be a thing of the past, as robot production lines and intelligent computer systems undercut the cost of human workers.

As it points out, a German car worker costs more than £35 per hour but a robot will do the same work at a cost of only £5. Therefore, the robot is cheaper than a worker in China and, what’s more, will never go sick, have time off to start a family or go on holiday.

However, the AI revolution will not only affect manual workers, the report says. It is predicted that a third of graduate-level jobs will eventually be replaced by machines or software, with accountants, court clerks and ‘desk officers’ arguably being the first jobs to bite the dust.

According to the report, the gap between economic reality in the self-employed ‘gig economy’ and existing legal frameworks is already growing. The new information economy is likely to result in more monopolies and a greater income gap between rich and poor because “many people will end up unemployed, whereas highly qualified, creative and ambitious professionals will increase their wealth”.