Rise of the robots means people need new skills, MPs warn

Artificial intelligence is set to 'fundamentally' change the way people live, MPs say. Credit: Frank May/ DPA / PA Images

Human beings must develop new skills to compete in a world where artificial intelligence is becoming more prevalent, a group of MPs have said.

The Science and Technology Committee has urged the government to prepare for the technological transformation where artificial intelligence (AI) "fundamentally" changes the way people live and work.

MPs claimed the government does not have a strategy for developing the new skills workers will need as the use of AI increases, or the capacity to deal with the potential social and ethical problems it throws up.

Tania Mathias, acting chairwoman of the committee, warned that "science fiction is slowly becoming science fact" and urged the government to react now.

Technological advances such as driverless cars already exist. Credit: Rui Vieira / PA Wire

The committee also urged the government to set up a commission on AI to look at the potential problems the science could create.

Dr Mathias said: "Government leadership in the fields of robotics and AI has been lacking. Some major technology companies - including Google and Amazon - have recently come together to form the partnership on AI.

"While it is encouraging that the sector is thinking about the risks and benefits of AI, this does not absolve the government of its responsibilities. It should establish a commission on artificial intelligence to identify principles for governing the development and application of AI, and to foster public debate.

"Concerns about machines taking jobs and eliminating the need for human labour have persisted for centuries. Nevertheless, it is conceivable that we will see AI technology creating new jobs over the coming decades while at the same time displacing others.

"Since we cannot yet foresee exactly how these changes will play out, we must respond with a readiness to reskill and upskill.

"It is disappointing that the government has still not published its digital strategy and set out its plans for equipping the future workforce with the digital skills we will need."