China government advisers worry about AI taking over jobs

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(Bloomberg) --Top political advisers in China voiced concerns this week that the country’s march toward a leading global role in the deployment of Artificial Intelligence will cause job losses, but had little detailed advice on what to do about it.

AI, an area that China is trying to rival the U.S. in, will increase the risks of “structural unemployment,” according to a proposal from the China Association for Promoting Democracy, as the nation’s political leaders gather in Beijing.

The technology will cause a “significant drop” in the demand for low-skilled workers, and poses challenges to employees in sectors including pharmaceuticals, plastic making, and manufacturing of electronics, machinery and automobile, according to the proposal.

The association is one of the recognized political parties that follow the direction of the ruling Communist Party, instead of in opposition, and serves as a member of the People’s Political Consultative Conference.

As for the solution, the CAPD suggested that the government should train workers in traditional industries to move to new sectors, monitor unemployment more closely, set up AI majors in colleges and help businesses to adapt to the new technologies.

The nation aims to make the AI industry a "new, important" driver of economic expansion by 2020 and generating 400 billion yuan ($59 billion) of output per year by 2025.

This week, the CPPCC annual conference was held concurrently in Beijing with the national legislature meeting. Some big-name technology moguls also came to talk about AI. Baidu Inc’s Robin Li, also a CPPCC member, espoused the creation of ethical guidelines for developing and deploying the technology. Tencent’s Pony Ma, a member of the National People’s Congress proposed setting up security standards and cracking down on data crime.

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