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Oscar Williams

News editor

Fujitsu CTO: The public has been “sedated” by understatements about impact of AI

The public has been “sedated” by understatements about the impact of AI on employment, Fujitsu’s EMEIA CTO – Joseph Reger – has warned.

Speaking to the House of Lords select committee on AI today, Reger expressed concerns about the lack of awareness of the consequences of the so-called “fourth industrial revolution”.

“The public in general across the whole of Europe is being a bit sedated by statements like ‘oh it’s not going to be so bad’,” he said.

Reger added that many people have falsely presumed that because previous industrial revolutions have generated more jobs, this one will too.

“I think that’s a big mistake because the current one is unlike any one of those before. The honest to God statement is that we don’t know what the net effect is going to be.”

A survey by the Royal Society of Arts published in September suggested that four million jobs in the UK could be automated, based on executives’ estimations.

The finance, transport and media industries are most likely to be transformed by automation, the research suggested.

While Reger urged government to be cautious about the consequences of AI on employment, he was only marginally less pessimistic about how it will affect consumers.

“It’s going to be a safer, healthier, more prosperous and certainly more comfortable world, [but] the pricetag is large.” 

“The price tag says that consumers need to give up a big part of their privacy and provide personal data so that it works well. It’s a deal and it’s not clear if it’s a good deal or not for the consumer.”