AI could eliminate nearly 8 million jobs in UK, study shows The technology could herald a "job apocalypse," the study said.

 Artificial intelligence could eliminate up to nearly 8 million jobs in the United Kingdom, according to a new study, which cautions that women and early-career employees are most at risk of being put out of work.

Government policy, however, could allow the U.K. to avert job losses and harness AI for a breakneck economic surge, according to the left-leaning Institute for Public Policy Research, the think tank that authored the report.

“The world of knowledge work will be transformed by generative AI,” the report said, referring to a type of AI that can create content, such as text or images. “We need to start preparing for this now.”

Researchers analyzed 22,000 tasks carried out by workers across the U.K. economy, finding that 11% are currently exposed to the threat of displacement by AI, the study said. The jobs at greatest risk include entry-level, part-time and administrative roles -- a set of positions disproportionately held by women, the study added.

The report describes a soon-to-begin phase of AI adoption during which some of these “low-hanging fruit” jobs will be replaced by the technology. The overall workforce impact over the period could be limited, the study said, but some roles will experience massive effects, such as the elimination of one-third of administrative jobs.

A second phase could bring much deeper integration of AI that will threaten up to 59% of tasks, the report said. If companies allow AI to access proprietary information and execute key tasks, the study said, the resulting disruption may slash a wider swathe of jobs, including a larger share of high-paying positions.

While offering up potential outcomes, the study acknowledged that a wide range of job-displacement scenarios remains possible, including the potential for job losses to be avoided entirely.

Experts who spoke to ABC News last year noted the absence of job losses during a surge of AI adoption over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

PHOTO: AI technology humanoid robot touch screen UI technology AI interface future warehouse export and import future robot technology in this undated stock photo.
AI technology humanoid robot touch screen UI technology AI interface future ware...
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While data on the scale of displacement remains limited, the experts said, anecdotes confirm that the technology eliminates some positions while creating others.

The increased sophistication and use of AI is expected to displace jobs over the coming years, the experts added. AI will enhance productivity and increase compensation for some jobs but it risks leaving out workers who fail to keep up, they said.

Artificial intelligence could displace roughly 15% of workers, or 400 million people, worldwide between 2016 and 2030, according to a McKinsey study released in 2018. In a scenario of wide AI adoption, the share of jobs displaced could rise to as much as 30%, the firm found.

The report out on Tuesday presented policy proposals that the authors believe could reduce the likelihood of job losses and heighten the possibility of an AI-induced economic boom.

A policy described by the report as “ringfencing,” for example, would mandate the continued use of human involvement for certain tasks, such as medical diagnoses. A combination of government incentives and public-private partnerships could help achieve the measure.

In its most optimistic potential scenario, the report outlines a future of AI adoption in which no jobs are lost and gross domestic product increases by 13%.

“There is no one predetermined path for how AI implementation will play out,” the report's authors said.

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