Ongoing advancements in technology are expected to lead to further job losses in future. Accountancy firm PwC predict that in the UK up to 30 percent (10 million) existing, mostly low-skilled and manual jobs could be taken over by robots within the next 15 years.
Economies with comparable figures are the US (38 percent), Germany (35 percent) and Japan (21 percent). According to PwC’s chief economist John Hawksworth “jobs where you've got more of a human touch, like health and education,” which do not easily lend themselves to automation are expected to be somewhat protected. Some job losses could be offset as new industries develop on the back of the growth in robotics and AI.
However, there are concerns that workers lacking the necessary skills to prosper in the coming years could be left behind in this 21st century industrial revolution, leading to greater income inequality.
Introducing a universal basic income for all citizens, to create a safety net for those whose jobs end up being done by robots, has been touted as a solution. Billionaires Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have spoken in favor of this initiative. Branson comments: “Basic income is going to be all the more important. If a lot more wealth is created by AI, the least that the country should be able to do is that a lot of that wealth that is created by AI goes back into making sure that everybody has a safety net.”
Finland is currently testing out a two-year scheme to give all citizens €560 a month and parts of the Netherlands, Hawaii and Ontario are considering, or in the process of conducting small experiments, giving all citizens a basic income.