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Rishi Sunak says AI is a ‘co-pilot’ rather than risk to jobs

Sunak: The idea that AI will steal jobs is too simplistic -

In a speech yesterday (26 October) on the future of AI, prime minister Rishi Sunak said AI at work should be considered a ‘co-pilot’ rather than a risk to jobs.

Sunak said: “It’s important to recognise AI doesn’t just automate and take people’s jobs. A better way to think about it is as a co-pilot.”

However, Sunak did admit the technology, which he compared to the Industrial Revolution, will have an impact on the labour market.

He said: “As with all technologies, they change our labour market, I think over time of course they make our economy more prosperous, more productive.

“They create more growth overall but it does mean that there are changes in the labour market.”

Read more: HR and AI: How can HR use AI effectively and ethically?

The prime minister argued the best way to protect workers is education.

He said: “It’s hard to predict the exact evolution of everyone’s job and what we can do in government is make sure that we have a world-class education system.

“That is the best way that I can ensure that everyone in our country benefits from, not just AI, but everything that comes our way.”

The speech, given ahead of an AI summit hosted at Bletchley Park next week, was posited to address the “dangers and fears” around AI.

"The right speech for me to make is to address those fears head on," Sunak said. "Get this wrong, and AI could make it easier to build chemical or biological weapons, terrorist groups could use AI to spread fear and destruction on an even greater scale." 

Sunak used the speech to a launch a new AI Safety Institute to examine and test new types of AI. 

The news follows a report from the government's Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, a cross-party group of MPs, released in September which concluded the UK needed to introduce legislation to avoid falling behind the EU. 

It said: “Without a serious, rapid and effective effort to establish the right governance frameworks [...] other jurisdictions will steal a march and the frameworks that they lay down may become the default even if they are less effective than what the UK can offer.”

Read more: Enact AI laws or be overtaken by EU, MPs warn