Bishop & Sewell

There are a number of risks for businesses/employers that the current chatter and excitement around Artificial Intelligence (AI) doesn’t always address, write Harrison Devany a Solicitor in our Commercial department and Rhian Radia, Partner and Head of our Employment team.

Goldman Sachs has been tracking the progress of AI for many years and recently predicted that as many as 300 million full-time jobs around the world could be automated ‘in some way’ by the newest wave of artificial intelligence that has spawned platforms like ChatGPT.

In the United States and Europe, approximately two-thirds of current jobs ‘are exposed to some degree of AI automation,’ and up to a quarter of all work could be done by AI completely. The bank estimates the effects will be felt more deeply in advanced economies than emerging markets partly because white-collar workers are seen to be more at risk than manual laborers. Administrative workers and lawyers are expected to be most affected, the economists said, compared to the ‘little effect’ seen on physically demanding or outdoor occupations, such as construction and repair work.

You can view their excellent suite of AI thought leadership presentations here.

If generative artificial intelligence ‘delivers on its promised capabilities, the labour market could face significant disruption,’ the economists say. Already ChatGPT, which can answer prompts and write essays, is prompting some businesses to rethink how people should work every day.

Some industries and professions are more likely to be affected by AI automation than others. Jobs that require physical work, such as manual labourers, are less likely to be affected.

The report explains that office and administrative support jobs in the United States have the highest proportion of tasks that can be automated at 46%. That’s followed by:

  • 44% for the legal industry
  • 37% for architecture and engineering
  • 36% for the life, physical and social sciences sector
  • 35% for business and financial operations.

Overall, the report states that roughly 25% of work could be automated in the United States. The U.S. is followed closely behind by Europe at 24%.

(In case you’re wondering, the date of the original Luddite Rebellion lasted from 1811 to 1816. The Luddites are believed to have taken their name from Ned Ludd, a legendary weaver supposedly from Anstey, near Leicester. They protested against manufacturers who used machines in what they called ‘a fraudulent and deceitful manner’ to get around standard labour practices. Many Luddites were owners of workshops that had closed because factories could sell similar products for less. But when workshop owners set out to find a job at a factory, it was very hard to find one because producing things in factories required fewer workers than producing those same things in a workshop. This left many people unemployed and angry.)

There is however a major difference between jobs changing as a consequence of disruptive AI automation, versus the total removal of roles, currently performed by humans. The media’s present spotlight is trained on the technological innovation associated with AI. But, as we have discussed with our colleagues that discussion is set to quickly preoccupy the Chief People Officer in coming months, rather than the Chief Information Officer.

The UK Government has been doing its best to move the debate forward, and make the most of the commercial potential of AI with its recently published White Paper, A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation.

Whilst the paper highlights AI as a ‘critical’ technology IT focus’ or its potential to create new jobs and improve the workplace, rather than being seen as the threat the media portrayed. The government is proposing to implement a new, initially non-statutory and principles-based, framework to bring “clarity and coherence” to the regulatory landscape for AI.

The government intends for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Information Commissioner’s Office and others to issue joint guidance and help businesses apply transparency measures and bias mitigation standards when navigating the regulatory landscape. Given the pace of AI’s development employers need to keep a look out especially if using AI platforms during recruitment or other stages of the employment.

The government is doing its best to catch up. The key for business is not to be left behind.


Contact our Corporate & Commercial or Employment team

Harrison Devany is a Solicitor in the Corporate & Commercial team. Rhian Radia is a Partner and head of the Employment team. If you would like to contact either of them then please quote Ref CB399 on either 020 7631 4141 or email / 

The above is accurate as at 17 May 2023. The information above may be subject to change.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Category: Blog, News | Date: 17th May 2023

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