UK

Mark Carney Speech Sees Bank Of England Governor Warn Over Robot Job Takeover

Accountants, auditors and estate agents, take note.

06/12/2016 11:52 GMT | Updated 06/12/2016 13:23 GMT

Mark Carney has warned up to 15 million British jobs could be replaced by robots amid a “merciless” technological revolution - and economists are among those who could be affected.

The Bank Of England governor said middle-class service jobs such as accountants, auditors and estate agents could face upheaval at the hands of emerging artificial intelligence.

He said: “Up to 15 million of the current jobs in Britain could be automated over time.”

And research into the effect of automation on jobs has already revealed those roles most likely to fall to computers.

Statista
Source: 'The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Automation?' (2013)

Worryingly for Britain’s estimated one million call centre workers, telemarketing has a 99% chance of complete obsolescence by robots.

Accountants and auditors, retail salespeople, and technical writers are also at high risk of automation, Oxford University research (PDF) found.

Academics estimated that 47 percent of the US workforce is at risk of being replaced by technology.

Daily Mail
Tuesday's Daily Mail splashed with the revelation robots could steal 15m British jobs

In a speech on Monday at Liverpool John Moores University, Carney said: “The fundamental challenge is, alongside its great benefits, every technological revolution mercilessly destroys jobs and livelihoods – and therefore identities – well before the new ones emerge.

“This was true of the eclipse of agriculture and cottage industry by the industrial revolution, the displacement of manufacturing by the service economy, and now the hollowing out of many of those middle-class services jobs.”

He added: “Now may be the time of the famous or fortunate, but what of the frustrated and frightened?”

Other roles at risk of being replaced by robots include:

  • Estate agents (86% chance)
  • Word processors and typists (81%)
  • Machinists (65%)
  • Commercial pilots (55%)

But even the Canadian economist is at risk, with Carney’s profession carrying a 43 percent chance of automation.

Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said millions of jobs in Britain are at risk of automation

However, professional roles are already being automated. Forbes has reported that sports reporters, paralegals, online marketers and even surgeons have been replaced by robotic technology.

Carney’s speech also cast the growth of wages as the worst in living memory.

He said: “Real wages are below where they were a decade ago – something that no one alive today has experienced before.

“Real incomes in this country have not grown for the last ten years. That is incredible and that shines a light on inequality, inequalities that exist in this economy, exist in other economies and make people question what is being done to address those and what are the fundamental causes of those.

“During recessions the lower-skilled, lower-paid people tend to lose their jobs first. And recessions disproportionately affect the young.”

Bloomberg via Getty Images
British call centre workers have a 99% chance of automation according to research

Carney also highlighted the threat of terrorism on how people perceive the global economy, adding: “From the rising spectre of global terrorism to intensifying geopolitical tensions and financial crises, for too long, for far too many people, the world seems to be getting riskier. They are right.

“One of the things that I think contributes very understandably to the level of anxiety that households feel in this economy, in other economies, is the fact that it has for them been almost a lost decade of growth.”