Millions of jobs will be swept away in a 'fourth industrial revolution' as workers are replaced by robots, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned yesterday.
He said technological changes sweeping the world could destroy 10 per cent of British jobs, which – based on official figures – would be 3.2million roles.
Everything from passport gates to supermarket checkouts is being automated as technology triggers massive changes in how we live our daily lives.
In a speech to the Central Bank of Ireland yesterday, the Bank Governor said: 'Every technological revolution mercilessly destroys jobs and livelihoods – and therefore identities – well before the new ones emerge.
'In the interim, if it is similar to previous industrial revolutions, it seems likely there will be a period of technological unemployment, dislocation and rising inequality.
'The share of jobs at high risk of automation (is) some 10 per cent in the UK and 15 per cent in Ireland.'
Although Mr Carney argued technological change was ultimately a good thing for economies, he said individual people with the wrong skills could suffer.
For example, if manufacturers replace production line staff with robots, they are likely to need better-paid computer programmers.
He said: 'Even if the transition happens relatively quickly and smoothly by historic standards – taking 30 years and with a relatively quick rate of new job finding among those displaced by technology – total hours worked could be 2 per cent lower throughout, equivalent to a 2 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate.'
He said the internet is one of the biggest drivers of change. There have been more than 50,000 retail jobs lost this year as online giants such as Amazon steal business from bricks and mortar shops while employing far fewer staff.
Mr Carney said: 'We are on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution, which has the potential to transform fundamentally the nature of both work and commerce through advances in artificial intelligence, automation and interconnectedness.
'The nature of commerce is changing. Sales are increasingly taking place online and over platforms, rather than on the High Street.
'We are entering an age where anyone will be able to produce anything anywhere through 3D printing, where anyone can broadcast their performance globally via YouTube.'
The Governor argued that with robots taking over more and more tasks, humans could be left doing jobs that need a 'heart', such as roles which require creativity or the ability to persuade people.
He said there will also be a greater demand for carers due to the UK's aging population.