Artificial intelligence (AI) has become an increasingly important technology that has impacted the economy and jobs in various ways. Or at least that’s what OpenAI’s artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT told us when we asked it to summarise the effect of AI on the economy and jobs.
The chatbot isn’t wrong about its increasing importance. Over recent months, ChatGPT and similar services have made headlines as students and civil servants alike have attempted to outsource complex tasks to this type of artificial intelligence.
So what are these “various ways” that rapidly developing AI technology are impacting the economy and jobs? And can regulation really solve the issues it presents?
White paper on regulation. Last month, the Government published a white paper detailing “plans for implementing a pro-innovation approach to AI regulation”. Central to the proposals is an ambition for the UK to be a science and technology “superpower” with AI identified as one of five key technologies in this effort. However, the proposed regulatory frameworks are “underpowered” and risk “leaving prominent AI harms unaddressed”, warns the Ada Lovelace Institute.
AI and work. The adoption of AI in workplace settings is one of the frontiers of this debate on adequate oversight and regulation. A reliance on AI for “hiring, firing, pay and promotion” could make workers in several sectors increasingly vulnerable, according to the TUC, with the TUC’s Kate Bell describing the Government’s white paper as “flimsy” at its AI@work conference yesterday. Recruitment in particular has been identified as a key area in which harms may already be present and must be addressed much more quickly than the expected timeline would allow. According to the TUC, AI systems are already being used “to draw conclusions from candidates’ facial expressions and their tone of voice in video interviews”. The Ada Lovelace institute argues that key risks in recruitment are either not covered by regulation or are covered by “a patchwork of regulators”. For example, it is unclear that any regulator is responsible for ensuring that AI videos used in recruitment processes are used transparently. A lack of “statutory backing” and “adequate resourcing for regulators” are also identified as key risks for monitoring the use of AI in these areas.
So what happens next? The response to the Government’s white paper has focused on regulation, with hopes that promptly updated regulatory frameworks with proper statutory oversight and resources could mitigate existing and emerging harms. While this is needed and can be helpful in protecting existing workers and job seekers, wider structural concerns about the impact on the job market must be addressed. Speaking in a US context, the founder of Stealth Startup JB Rubinovitz argues that governments “need to start building safety nets now”.
A National Energy Guarantee. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) have outlined their proposal for a National Energy Guarantee through a rising block tariff (RBT), which would price energy usage in bands, with higher usage resulting in higher prices. The aim is to provide a safety net under households' essential energy needs. To avoid penalizing low-income households with high energy usage, the RBT system must be accompanied by a set of allowances and a social tariff. NEF's analysis shows that 80% of households would benefit from the proposed package, with the poorest 30% seeing the largest gains, averaging £250.
Publicly-owned energy and household bills. A publicly owned energy generator could reduce electricity costs by £252 per household a year. Common Wealth’s Chris Hayes writes for the Guardian explaining their recent research. Common Wealth’s Adam Peggs also explains why “the case for reorganising the UK's energy system has become ever clearer… If the goal is energy security, this [more public ownership] is the most effective and reliable way.”
Time to change fiscal rules. The UK's fiscal rules, which set targets for government debt and borrowing, are facing criticism from unlikely sources, including the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the chair of the government's spending watchdog. A new blog from the New Economics Foundation’s (NEF) Alfie Stirling explains three problems with the UK’s fiscal rules and why “taking power over them away from the treasury could be part of the solution”.
The rich are calling for higher wealth taxes. Patriotic Millionaires James Perry and Julia Davies explain why a growing number of rich people are supporting higher wealth taxes to tackle growing inequality and maintain funding for public services.
Scrutinising the government’s childcare expansion plan. The Social Guarantee have released a video with Women's Budget Group (WBG) analysing the government’s plan to expand free childcare provision announced in the Spring Budget and concluded that it won’t benefit children who need it the most and is “knowingly underfunded”, which will force providers to charge parents more to subsidise the shortfall and worsen recruitment shortages in the childcare sector.
Banking crisis and the need for stronger financial regulation. The Finance Innovation Lab’s (FIL) Jesse Griffiths explains why the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, two other US banks and the forced sale of Credit Suisse represent a significant banking crisis, and “unless central banks and regulators admit the mistakes they made that helped cause it and strengthen their actions to stop it spreading and prevent future crises, it’s a situation that could get worse.”