Automation threatens to widen inequality gap across the UK
According to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), machines threaten jobs that generate up to £290bn in wages which could see the inequality gap across the country yawn wider still.
They estimated that 44% of the jobs in the UK could be replaced with machines over the next two decades
That was not to say that automation might not be a very good thing for society and the economy, but if not properly regulated it could lead to "the paradox of plenty," leaving the overall economy better-off but at the cost of many communities losing out as a result of technological change.
IPPR estimated that jobs accounting for fully a third of annual pay in the UK could potentially be automated, with low-paid roles in te greatest danger. On the back of their analysis, they called on the government to help those at risk and to regulate the adoption of robotics so the benefits were equally shared.
Government's proper role in the upcoming paradigm shift was boiled down to five key proposals by the think-tank. The first was to transform the jobs being replaced by machines and not simply eliminate them.
The second proposal was to control the wealth accruing to the owners of the technologies and related businesses in order to avoid widening the inequality gap.
The third proposal was to manage the rate at which automation occured so as to reap the full productivity benefits and ensure higher wages .
Fourth, IPPR suggested the government should have a good strategy to manage employment inequality and ethics in the digital age.
Lastly, the study concluded that government should ensure owners concentrate on broadening the proportion of the population that would prosper from automation and away from focusing only on creating wealth.
Mathew Lawrence, a senior researcher at the IPPR, said: “Managed badly, the benefits of automation could be narrowly concentrated, benefiting those who own capital and highly skilled workers. Inequality would spiral.”
Carys Roberts also from IPPR, said: “Some people will get a pay rise while others are trapped in low-pay, low-productivity sectors. To avoid inequality rising, the government should look at ways to spread capital ownership, and make sure everyone benefits from increased automation.”