Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Rules for the Old School; This Week, Our Series on Artificial Intelligence in London Looks at How Education Is the Key to Unleashing the Power of New Tech -- and Suggests Areas of Radical Change So That We Can All benefitTHE AI SERIES PART FOUR

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Rules for the Old School; This Week, Our Series on Artificial Intelligence in London Looks at How Education Is the Key to Unleashing the Power of New Tech -- and Suggests Areas of Radical Change So That We Can All benefitTHE AI SERIES PART FOUR

Article excerpt

Byline: Rohan Silva

POOR Garry Kasparov. In 1997, he was the world's number one-ranked chess grandmaster, and considered to be among the best players of all time.

But in May that year, he had a match against a powerful artificial intelligence system designed by IBM. Most experts assumed that Kasparov would win -- chess had long been presumed to be one of those complex intellectual pursuits where humans would always be able to beat machines.

But over the course of six hard-fought games, and in front of millions watching on television, IBM's AI software came out on top.

I find this moment fascinating -- and I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I've spent hours watching each of the games on YouTube. Nerdy, I know.

The reason I'm a bit obsessed is that IBM's victory was something of a watershed moment -- a prelude to the AI era we're entering today, in which software is increasingly capable of carrying out tasks that previously required human level intelligence to do.

It wasn't Kasparov's fault that he lost -- he just happened to be the top chess player at the moment when AI technology had advanced enough to beat any human competitor.

Even so, you could understand if the grandmaster was a bit upset -- and we'd probably forgive him if he now spends his time smashing up robots and screaming at computers.

Not a bit of it. The former chess champion has actually become one of the most thoughtful guys around on the subject of AI, and what we humans need to do to prosper in this new age.

For Kasparov, education is key -- ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to find well-paid and fulfilling work. As he puts it so well: "We [humans] might not be able to change our hardware but we can definitely upgrade our software."

In Intelligent London last week, we looked at how AI might positively affect the work we do -- in particular by complementing human skills and helping us focus on the most interesting and creative parts of our jobs.

This week, we're going to explore some of the more difficult ways that AI might have an impact on employment -- and what we can do about it. Because let's be clear -- as with any technological advance, there are always tradeoffs.

AI will bring many benefits but it's also the case that more jobs are likely to be automated -- with big repercussions for all of us.

According to the Bank of England, as many as 15 million jobs in the UK could end up being replaced by AI-enabled software and machines in the years ahead. That's obviously a scary statistic -- and the effects may be felt especially strongly in London and the South East.

Why? As AI develops, it's going to be replacing white-collar jobs in fields such as accounting, banking and legal services, which make up a dispropor-tionately big part of our city's workforce.

The reassuring part is that new ways of making a living will continue to emerge -- they're just not necessarily going to be the same as the old ones.

So the question is how will people be supported as jobs disappear, and what help will they be given to find their next career? The sad truth is that British politicians have not always done a good job of helping people transition from one economic period to another. Take the decline of coal mining and manufacturing in the north of England, for example. As traditional industries disappeared, and Britain became a predominantly service-based economy, entire communities ended up out of work -- and some never recovered.

Looking further back, the industrial revolution in the 19th century saw a similar picture. Younger workers were able to move to towns and cities and find work in factories but many older people remained in rural poverty.

The challenge for our generation is this: is it inevitable that some people will be left behind by the coming wave of AI innovation? I genuinely hope not -- but politicians will have to work hard to ensure this doesn't happen. …

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