Discussion Forums » Transformative Ideas

Society and our Artificial Intelligence Future

    • 50 posts
    March 25, 2021 12:26 PM GMT

    This is one of our 10 Top Transformative Strategies

    We would welcome your comments and views on the 3 most important proposals.

    This Strategy addresses both the opportunities and potential issues of an Artificial Intelligence Society. It focuses on transformative proposals which would allow us to take steps now that have a beneficial outcome whatever future scenario comes to pass.

    To understand the context of some of these strategies, in relation to jobs and the future of work, it is important to understand what we call the AI Job Disruption Scenario and the AI Tipping Point Scenario. Without this understanding some of the proposals may seem surprising. 

    An explanation of the AI Job Disruption Scenario and the AI Tipping Point Scenario is given in the post: What is an Artificial Intelligence Society.


    Accelerating Innovation and ensuring it contributes positively

    Accelerating Innovation

    Much good work is already being done by Government in encouraging innovation and capitalising on scientific and technology advances. Our proposals are about accelerating this further and addressing some long-standing issues:

    • Create an Innovation Eco-system to enable and accelerate deployment of new science and technology solutions, particularly AI. It would prioritise areas of Public Services, such as Social Care, NHS and Housing, which have the biggest issues and biggest potential cost savings. It should be driven by a new Department of Innovation Deployment charged with developing a ‘Deployment Framework’ for AI and also addressing the age-old problem that we are excellent at research but poor at commercialising and deploying it.

    • Engender a National Obsession with Productivity would fit naturally with the above, tackle the UK’s longstanding productivity issue and contribute enormously to tackling the debt from Covid-19 over the long-term. This would be catalysed by Institutionalising measurement and reporting of productivity, as part of new accountancy requirements, such that it became a major factor in judging companies. Such an obsession could also be used to re-establish UK manufacturing using AI and robotics to be competitive.

    • Put an extreme focus on Digital Security and Disaster Planning relating to Digital Infrastructure as the consequences of failure could be incalculable and existential and lack of solutions could hamper progress.

    • Tackle MP Diversity with respect to technology and business background to address chronic imbalances.

    Ensuring Innovation Contributes positively

    • Scenario plan now for both the AI Job Disruption and Tipping Point Scenarios. We should establish an over-arching Strategic Planning Body to urgently consider the consequences and opportunities for society where jobs are rapidly replaced by AI but new jobs are created; where we need to work less and less; and where we may eventually reach a tipping point with a net loss of jobs. This body would also need to carry out a very thorough predictive analysis of job types that can survive AI and the associated skill levels needed, to assist planning; looking also at jobs where we currently value personal contact or bespoke services e.g. leisure, some public services, charities, and how these areas might grow.

    • Adopt the principle that AI must provide financially for the disruption and job loss it causes. As AI progresses, it will enable companies to improve productivity by orders of magnitude and consequently profitability. We need to change the corporate tax system such that, in return, AI also generates the huge national funds required to handle the job disruption caused by AI and the re-skilling necessary.

    • Introduce an Artificial Intelligence (and pervasive technologies) ‘Productivity Contribution’. An innovative approach would be a two-way productivity contribution. This would initially provide financial incentives to companies to accelerate deployment, thereby tackling the long-standing UK productivity problem.  We would gradually move from incentives to contributions to a national fund based on a share of productivity improvements. This fund would enable us to manage and minimise the effects of disruption of the job market and to gradually reduce working hours, while maintaining income levels.

      Prioritise taxation of online companies commensurate with the business they do in the UK to ensure fair competition.

    • Establish a body responsible for creation of new jobs and managing unemployment. In both Job Disruption and Tipping Point Scenarios the ready creation of new jobs will be paramount. We cannot just rely on business to do this. One solution would be a new body, drawn from business people, scientists and Public Sector to operate independently, a bit like the Bank of England does, with responsibility for supplementing jobs created by the normal market, opening up new sectors, encouraging entrepreneurial activity, extending Public Services into new areas and maintaining the volume of employment opportunities as far as possible. This might look particularly at jobs where we currently value personal contact or bespoke services.

    • Incentivise organisations to re-skill people rather than make them redundant using the benefits of AI to improve the scope of jobs and expand their organisation’s activities rather than just improve profitability.

    • Provide a reskilling infrastructure and job availability service via a Government/Industry/BBC/OU partnership to provide a largely digital re-skilling infrastructure with mentors. Individuals also need to be able to judge what type of re-skilling is worthwhile and receive a personalised approach. There is also a need for a ‘Job type/Skills type’ availability service, constantly updated to inform what jobs are on the wane, what on the rise, which companies are generating jobs and what skills are likely to be in future demand. We might also need to gradually redefine work e.g. to include re-skilling and education activities as paid work.
    • Change the status of the unemployed with Government taking ownership when we are well into the Job Disruption Scenario. To assist the job creation process, anyone not in Private Sector work could first become a Public Sector employee. Thus, the state would take on the role to either provide a meaningful job, re-skill, or to assist the transition to a new lifestyle. If the state cannot provide a job they should still be an ‘on-call’ Community employee of different types e.g. reservist health workers, receiving a national income. This approach would effectively do away with unemployment and relies on establishment of the National Productivity Fund and its build-up mentioned above.

    • Formalise a ‘National Contract for AI Deployment’ to ensure deployment for the good of all and in a way that encourages innovation and rewards merit but that won’t allow excessive inequalities to develop. This would be an important part of public acceptance for the personal disruption AI might cause. In the 1960s we were all led to believe that computerisation would mean that by now we would all be working fewer hours for the same income. There was no action to make that situation materialise; this time it is essential that action is taken because of the social consequences if we don’t. In particular:

    • Establish a ‘National Productivity Fund’ and National Dividend to make the country’s success in implementing AI financially benefit everyone and to contribute funds to the ‘levelling up’ agenda. This would be part of the quid pro quo of accepting AI and the consequent individual disruption.

    • Gradually reduce the working week while maintaining income levels, so that individuals have more choice over their work/life balance. Set the threshold for the number of hours a week to receive at least a living wage which would enable a good life free from financial worry. 


    Underlying analysis documents which support these proposals are:
    Artificial Intelligence - Managing the Future (The introductory document to the topic)
    Artificial Intelligence - Planning for an AI Society (Detailed Scenario Planning of alternatives)
    Artificial Intelligence Society - Proposals (Additional proposals from scenario planning document)
    Ensuring AI contributes financially to the Good of All
    Bouncing back – the economy, incentives and taxation
    Coronavirus situation as an opportunity for inspiration

    This post was edited by # Probably42 at March 25, 2021 12:41 PM GMT
    • 24 posts
    March 25, 2021 3:52 PM GMT

    The Productivity Obsession, the 'Productivity Contribution' and changing the status of the unemployed, are the best of a good bunch. We really must crack on with this if we are to remain competitive as a nation. 

    • 24 posts
    March 25, 2021 5:00 PM GMT

    There are some excellent initiatives here. I would pick out, as maybe the three most important: The Productivity Obsession; that AI must provide financially for the disruption it causes; and the Productivity Fund and National Dividend.

    • 6 posts
    March 26, 2021 7:31 AM GMT

    There is little doubt that AI will be disruptive - let's encourage society to see it as an opportunity not a threat. During this pandemic (yes, I used the P word!) many folks have realised that they're not the IT Neanderthals they thought they were and due to that may be more open to what AI may do to their workplace and its role in it => individuals, businesses and corporations may have different AI 'tipping points' - and without let or hindrance to early 70s trade unionism maybe there's a way to engender a national obsession with productivity in co-operation with recognised workgroups (where's Len Murray when he's needed? And don't say in Canada, Geoff!) For me the idea of a National Dividend seems inviting - but theory and practice may differ. I like the idea of using innovation for the good of society, but Watt and Bolton probably said something similar.

    I'm with Geoff - we need to extract our national digit and get ahead of the AI curve not behind it. Early adopter's advantage methinks - all this STEM education for what?