AI ‘apocalypse’ exaggerated but jobs disruption likely, Lords warn

The Lords Communications and Digital Committee said the UK risked falling behind other countries if the government continued with its ‘narrow view of AI safety’, rather than embrace its benefits.

The new report into artificial intelligence and large language models (LLMs) behind generative AI tools such as ChatGPT said the technology’s rapid development would have a profound effect on society, ‘comparable to the introduction of the internet’.

It includes recent research compiled by Goldman Sachs that suggests around 10 per cent of architects’ workloads could be replaced by AI automation (see graph below).

The Lords’ committee said employment would be hit by the accelerating growth in AI but claimed: ‘Much of our evidence suggested initial disruption would give way to enhanced productivity. We did not find plausible evidence of imminent widespread AI‑induced unemployment.’

However, the reports adds there would ‘inevitably be those who lose out’.

The committee went on to urge the government to better support ‘those most exposed to disruption from AI’.

It recommends: ‘The Department for Education and DSIT should work with industry to expand programmes to upskill and reskill workers and improve public awareness of the opportunities and implications of AI for employment.’

It also calls on the government to take action on protecting the copyright of materials used by generative AI tools. The report says although the new technologies offer ‘immense value to society’ they ‘do not warrant the violation of copyright law or its underpinning principles’.

The report reads: ‘The current legal framework is failing to ensure [copyright rewards creators for their efforts and prevent others from using works without permission] and the government has a duty to act.

‘It cannot sit on its hands for the next decade until sufficient case law has emerged.’

Baroness Stowell of Beeston, chair of the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee, said: ‘LLMs rely on ingesting massive datasets to work properly but that does not mean they should be able to use any material they can find without permission or paying rightsholders for the privilege.

‘This is an issue the government can get a grip of quickly and it should do so.’

She added: ‘One lesson from the way technology markets have developed since the inception of the internet is the danger of market dominance by a small group of companies.

‘The government must ensure exaggerated predictions of an AI-driven apocalypse, coming from some of the tech firms, do not lead it to policies that close down open-source AI development or exclude innovative smaller players from developing AI services.’

The AJ has launched a new survey to investigate the impact of artificial intelligence and generative design on the profession

Click here to take the survey

The online questionnaire looks at which AI tools and software are most popular among architects, when they are being employed, and for what purposes.

Is the architectural community embracing this change, either in whole or in part? How will practice and the education of practices have to evolve? Should they? Is AI a danger to the future of the profession?

The survey is anonymous and candid responses are sought from every corner of the industry. We welcome replies from those who are not using AI to establish the reasons why architects haven’t or won’t adopt the technology.

The results will be published in March.