According to a comprehensive new government report, the accelerated adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in the UK might cause more harm and job losses for women and disadvantaged groups.
The report, composed by Ansh Bhatnagar, a Research Fellow at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, and Devyani Gajjar, a Government Digital Sciences Advisor, underscores the extensive influence that AI could have on society. The study details the potential implications for security, privacy, transparency, labour rights and intellectual property while stating that AI might pose some risks and benefits to democracy.
Moreover, the research points out that the UK presently lacks any legislation dedicated to AI. Expressing the concerns raised by various stakeholders, the report indicates that the advancements in AI could disproportionately impact disadvantaged groups. Given that women predominantly perform most of the clerical tasks in the UK, they are likely to face more job losses due to the introduction of AI.
The research further argues, "Academics, think tanks and technology trade associations have recommended that the Government should help workers retrain and gain relevant skills and ensure that existing inequalities are not exacerbated". The authors emphasised the necessity for workers to be adequately re-skilled so as to prevent the deepening of existing inequality gaps.
Additionally, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trend of using AI to manage office-based workers, especially amidst the shift towards remote and hybrid working setups, has escalated. This includes the use of AI-based surveillance of the workforce and its use for recruitment purposes, like screening CVs.
John Kirk, the Deputy CEO at ITG, highlighted that the rapid adoption of AI is poised to bring significant and transformative changes to essential business functions, particularly in sales and marketing. He anticipates that this will result in increased productivity and the empowerment of organisations for growth.
"The rapid pace of AI adoption will bring seismic changes to critical business functions like sales and marketing, accelerating productivity and empowering organisations to grow," said Kirk.
However, Kirk cautioned that the potential effects of these technologies on working practices should be thoughtfully assessed. He emphasised the importance of equipping staff with the essential tools and training required to succeed in the evolving landscape of digital work. "The impact of these technologies on working practices must be carefully considered, with staff provided with the necessary tools and training they need to thrive in this new world of digital work."
While the proliferation of AI holds promises for efficiency and growth in the economy, the report urgently calls out the necessary measures to be taken to safeguard the workforce, particularly women and those within disadvantaged groups, from the potential job losses and exacerbated inequalities that could well be aftermath of this digital revolution.