Most assessments of the impact of AI on European labour markets conclude that it will have two key impacts: displacing human labour and driving productivity. In the long run, both of these effects can be positives. In the short run, they are likely to be disruptive and disorienting. The reach of automation into parts of the cognitive labour market that have heretofore been protected from it may be a social shock, and raises the prospect of a hollowed out labour market where elite cognitive labour and non-routine low-cost manual work sit above and below a disappearing landscape of traditional skilled middle class jobs in both manufacturing and services. While new roles are likely to be created as well as old ones displaced by machine judgement, the detail of this evolution is inherently uncertain in advance.
The initial promise of the internet age was for a free and open space to exchange information. However the advent of algorithm-driven content raises important questions about what we see, how much we share a common information landscape and the reliability of what we rely on for news.
AI is already transforming the delivery of financial services. This is true both at the highly sophisticated end of the market, where firms make use of AI to execute high-frequency trading strategies and at the level of the individual retail investor, where AI can tailor and deliver financial “robo-advice” to consumers. Deferring to machine judgement and automation is by no means new - automated trading is already the dominant form in most large markets. Yet AI clearly has much further to reach into financial decision making – from investment and trading strategies to client classification and product recommendations.
Healthcare systems across the OECD, whether publicly or privately funded, face a range of challenges that threaten their financial and operational sustainability. The demographic crunch is the backdrop to this. Life expectancy has risen inexorably over recent years, but quality of life has often failed to keep pace. More people are living longer, but frequently with complex, chronic conditions that require ongoing treatments. Health systems have to meet this increase in demand with constrained resources, especially since the global financial crisis. Publicly funded systems in particular have received fewer resources than required as governments seek to economise, leading in some cases to a rationing of care.
The use of big data to drive machine learning and artificial intelligence will transform the way people live and work and the way economies function. In making a national strategy for AI, policymakers will have to weigh priorities that span everything from workplace regulation to industrial policy. What should a national strategy for AI look like? Is one even possible given the wide terrain and pace of change.
During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the UK yesterday, he and Theresa May were asked about the fate of Hitachi’s Horizon nuclear plant at Wylfa in Wales. Abe’s response, that they did not discuss it, did nothing to reduce anxiety about the multi-billion-pound project. Overnight, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reported that Hitachi has decided to freeze the project. In response, Hitachi’s share price rose by 6%. Despite Hitachi’s denials, the project appears to be on the brink of collapsing, with neither the Japanese nor the British able to find a combination of investors and government support to finance the costs.
Sovereignty is a tricky word. It’s misused or abused almost as often as it’s used – and it’s been used far more since the UK’s EU referendum date was set almost three years ago. Despite its nebulous character, it gets at the heart of something every human cares about: Who governs me? Who represents me? Who is in control?
EUROPE: Global Counsel Practice Lead Elizabeth Beall is joined by Member for European Parliament Seb Dance to discuss circular economy policy.
Romania’s presidency of the EU Council - formally launching this week - has already received a dose of high-profile scepticism both in Brussels and Bucharest. Politicians ranging from president Juncker to president Iohannis expressed doubts about Romania’s preparedness for its first ever stint at the helm of the EU, 12 years after its accession. In fairness, it will not be a routine rotation as the next six months will signify a turbulent and eventful period for the European Union.
At the end of each year, the Global Counsel team has a tradition of sharing among ourselves a selection of our favourite articles (or podcasts) from the past year. Last year, we decided to risk sharing the tradition. The response was positive enough to encourage us to do so again.