Imperial’s Nick Jennings says AI will ’augment rather than replace jobs’

Jennings said the UK could lead the world in robotics and automation.

Jennings said the UK could lead the world in robotics and automation.

Imperial’s Vice Provost Nick Jennings has told the government that he believes AI can ’augment rather than replace jobs’.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee have published a report today on automation and the future of work.

Professor Jennings, who is also Imperial’s Professor of Artificial Intelligence, gave evidence to the Committee earlier this year alongside other academic experts in AI and robotics. Professor Jennings said he also believes that the UK could lead the world in robotics and automation.

I think we will see AI and automation mostly in terms of changing and augmenting jobs, rather than replacing them entirely with entirely new ones. Professor Nick Jennings Vice Provost and Professor of AI


The report found that the UK ‘lags behind its G7 competitors in its adoption of robots and has allowed other countries to steal a march in leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution and seizing upon the opportunities for economic growth and jobs’.

The report urges the Government to come forward with a UK Robot and AI Strategy by the end of 2020. The report also outlines a series of measures which could be introduced as part of this strategy, to help support businesses, industries, and universities and boost the adoption of automation.

Professor Jennings told the Committee: “[New technologies such as AI and robotic systems]… will enhance jobs, as in changing the type of activity that is done, as technology has done throughout the ages.

"We will see some jobs disappearing and new jobs appearing. My personal observation is that I think we will see AI and automation mostly in terms of changing and augmenting jobs, rather than replacing them entirely with entirely new ones.”

Research excellence

Professor Jennings added: “The great advantage we have as a country in this area is the excellence of our research base in our universities. AI and robotics are things that the UK is good at and demonstrably good at.

"That bedrock really does let innovation flourish. There are a whole load of robotics areas where we can lead. Non?hardware’based automation—so, automation in the service sector—is also an area of strength where we can lead the world.”

Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee said: “The switch to automation brings challenges for businesses and for workers, with fears for livelihoods or disruption to job roles coming to the fore. The real danger for the UK economy and for future jobs growth is, however, not that we have too many robots in the workplace but that we have too few.” Photos and graphics subject to third party copyright used with permission or Imperial College London.

Stephen Johns
Communications and Public Affairs


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