Why Britain needs more robots

If anything, the UK’s problem is too few robots, not too many. There are only 71 robots for every 10,000 employees in manufacturing, compared to more than 300 in Germany. This reflects a wider bias towards labour over capital investment across the UK economy, which contributes to Britain’s productivity problems – and means that Britain could reap outsize rewards for investing in new technologies. The report also examines the likely impact of automation on the job market and inequality. It concludes that it is likely to be employment-neutral, at least in the medium term, and that while inequality is a concern, it is better managed by improved skills and training than Labour-style central direction and redistribution. It also argues that calls for a Universal Basic Income to combat robot-related unemployment are also premature, given the current employment situation, the costs of the policy, and the fact that income inequality has actually been falling.

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