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According to a report from the International Bar Association, the increasing use of AI and automation in the workplace could mean that governments will have to introduce taxes or quotas for human workers.

The 120 page report was produced by a team of employment lawyers from the International Bar Association in order to assess the potential legal implications of the rise of AI in the workplace.


Threatened jobs

One of the main concerns for the rise of AI is that it will replace workers and lead to mass unemployment, with companies favouring the use of robots that are cheaper to run and don’t require employee benefits.

Lead author of the report, Gerlind Wisskirchen, an employment lawyer said: “Jobs at all levels in society presently undertaken by humans are at risk of being reassigned to robots or AI, and the legislation once in place to protect the rights of human workers may be no longer fit for purpose, in some cases […] New labour and employment legislation is urgently needed to keep pace with increased automation.”

A report from PwC last month also revealed that as much as 30% of jobs are to be threatened by breakthroughs in AI. Jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries are thought to be at most risk of automation.


Robot tax & Human quotas

In order to avoid the loss of jobs, a few ideas have been put forward including legislation that introduces quotas for human workers so that not all jobs are taken by machines. This echoes the idea of a “robot tax” that Bill Gates suggested to mitigate the downsides of AI in the workplace.

“The state could introduce a kind of ‘human quota’ in any sector,” and it could decide “whether it intends to introduce a ‘made by humans’ label or tax the use of machines,” the report said.

Decisions about which jobs should be set aside exclusively for humans still need to be made. Jobs such as health and social work would be harder to replace with robots, although PwC’s report suggested these jobs are at risk of 17% automation.

One area that people are particularly hesitant to give up to AI is military and weapons systems. The military principle is that there should always be a “human in the loop” in order to prevent accidents or completely autonomous drones that can pick their own targets.

The report says: “A no-go area in the science of AI is research into intelligent weapon systems that open fire without a human decision having been made.

“The consequences of malfunctions of such machines are immense, so it is all the more desirable that not only the US, but also the United Nations discusses a ban on autonomous weapon systems.”



According to a report from The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) and the CV-Library, 63.3% of workers have never witnessed job losses as a result of AI.

72.6% of the 1,000 manufacturing professionals surveyed think that society is scare-mongered into thinking that robots are going to take everyone’s jobs. This comes from one of the industries thought to be most at risk of automation.

78.9% actually felt that more needs to be done to highlight the benefits that AI and robotics have on the modern workplace.

CEO of CIEHF, Steve Barraclough said: “Robots and automation are regularly given a bad name. However, whilst automation might remove some mundane and repetitive jobs, it also makes a significant contribution to ‘upskilling’ employees, which is often overlooked.

“Automation requires programmers and maintainers in areas where they may not have been previously necessary. This presents a real opportunity to businesses and manufacturers that are embracing change. It’s essential to keep people at the heart of new technology and to ‘on-board’ staff at the earliest opportunity. Human factors plays a significant role in the on-boarding process and is essential to ensuring employees are not resistant to change.”


Are you worried about the implications of the rise of AI? Do you agree with the potential robot tax or human quotas? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


About The Author

Kara Copple

An experienced business and finance writer, sometimes moonlighting as a fiction writer and blogger.

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