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AI skills gap threatens ‘foundations of liberal democracies’ – Multiverse CEO

Euan Blair Multiverse AI skills
Image credit: Multiverse

Failing to reskill people for the AI revolution risks people becoming disenfranchised and causing problems that “challenge the foundations of liberal democracies”, the founder of Multiverse has said.

AI taking jobs has been a long-running concern for workers, but recent advances demonstrated by technologies like ChatGPT have sparked a new urgency to the conversation.

Euan Blair, CEO and founder of edtech startup Multiverse, says it is important to get ahead of this by retraining people to work alongside AI.

“As we look at what generative AI is already starting to do to the workforce and will do to the workforce, it’s so important that we get ahead of that by retaining and reskilling people in new technologies so that we don’t get left with major social problems that challenge the foundations of liberal democracies,” said Blair.

The remarks are perhaps unsurprising coming from the boss of a company that reskills people through apprenticeships.

But data suggests the fears are real – one survey from YouGov found that two in three UK workers believe AI will take away more jobs than it will create. Business leaders anticipate significant changes to their workforce. Company executives estimate that up to 40% of their workforce may need to reskill as a direct result of implementing AI or automation over the next three years, according to a survey conducted by IBM.

“Historically, every major inflection point in technology we’ve seen where there’s been a great leap forward, be it the internet or the demise of manufacturing Britain or whatever else, the people who can least afford it have suffered the most,” said Blair.

Speaking to the UKTN Podcast, Blair said that technological advances are a “net positive” for society and the economy but they have also caused an “incredible amount of economic friction and devastation”.

Blair founded Multiverse in 2016. The London-based company says it has trained over 10,000 apprentices in partnership with more than 1,000 global employers.

Euan – who is the son of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair – says that universities “have failed to become engines of social mobility that I think a lot of people believed they should be”.

Blair is not alone in his views of the potential societal harm that AI could cause. Saqib Bhatti, minister for tech and the digital economy, previously told UKTN that getting AI regulation wrong could “affect the very fabric of our society”.

Last year the government announced that 12 universities would share a £117m funding pot in a bid to equip people in the UK with AI skills.

Blair takes a view shared by many politicians and business leaders – including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – that AI should be seen as a co-pilot that assists workers.

“Everyone needs to be taught how to be a co-pilot of AI, how to work with it, the ethics of AI – this is absolutely crucial,” said Blair.

Listen to the full interview with Multiverse CEO Euan Blair here.