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Governments could introduce 'made by humans' tags - legal report

One-third of grad jobs to go, including accountants and even some lawyers

Human job quotas and labels which state services or products were explicitly "made by humans" are just some of the measures law-makers could consider in combating the displacement of jobs due to robotics, according to a report by the global forum for the legal profession.

One-third of current jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree can be performed by machines or intelligent software in the future, found the 120-page Global Employment Institute report by the International Bar Association.

Individual jobs will disappear completely, and new types of jobs will come into being.

Jobs that will be mentioned only in the past tense in some decades from now are, for example, accountant, court clerk or desk officer at fiscal authorities. Owing to the high level of routine in their performance, these jobs will mainly be done independently by software, it said.

"It must be noted in this regard, however, that no jobs will be lost abruptly. Instead, a gradual transition will take place, which has already commenced and differs from industry to industry and from company to company," said the report.

In the future governments will have to decide what jobs should be performed exclusively by humans.

Pascale Lagesse, co-chair of the IBA GEI, said: "Greater governmental collaboration across borders may be necessary if commerce is to thrive.

"States as lawmakers will have to be bold in decision, determining what jobs should be performed exclusively by humans, for example: caring for babies; perhaps introducing human quotas in different sectors; taxing companies where machines are used; and maybe introducing a 'made by humans' label for consumer choice. Our new report posits these ideas and more, and could not be more timely."

Gerlind Wisskirchen, an employment lawyer in Cologne who is vice-chair of the IBA’s global employment institute, said: "Certainly, technological revolution is not new, but in past times it has been gradual. What is new about the present revolution is the alacrity with which change is occurring, and the broadness of impact being brought about by AI and robotics.

"Jobs at all levels in society presently undertaken by humans are at risk of being reassigned to robots or AI, and the legislation once in place to protect the rights of human workers may be no longer fit for purpose, in some cases."

The report also noted that increased mechanical autonomy will cause problems of how to define legal responsibility for accidents involving new technology such as driverless cars. ®

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