Governments not ready for artificial intelligence, say tech investors

A poll of global technology investors carried out at Web Summit yesterday suggests governments are not ready for artificial intelligence and its effect on jobs

Investors polled at 2016’s Web Summit in Lisbon earlier this week say governments are not ready for artificial intelligence (AI) and the impact it will have, especially in terms of job losses.

Governments are said to be failing to prepare for the inevitable changes that will be brought about by advances in AI, which a survey of global technology investors found is set to wipe out millions of jobs in economies worldwide.

The poll of top investors was conducted at Venture, a high-profile venture capital event taking place as part of Web Summit in Lisbon, which was officially opened by Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa on Thursday.

The vast majority – 93% – of the 224 investors surveyed believed that governments were not prepared for the impact of AI on employment. The face-to-face interviews also found that 53% of investors agree it is “inevitable that artificial intelligence will destroy millions of jobs”.

Brexit “damaging to the European economy”

The day-long event saw more than 500 attendees from top global venture capital firms, private equity funds, angels and limited partnerships gathered for focused talks and curated round tables, with more than $100 billion worth of investable capital in the room.

82% of investors agreed that Brexit is damaging to the European economy, while a similar number (77%) think the result of the EU Referendum is directly damaging British start-up companies.

According to the investors, the biggest threats to the tech industry at the moment are labour laws and regulation.

They also said, perhaps surprisingly, that the least innovative of the major tech companies is Apple, with 39% of respondents sharing this opinion.

The attendees must have had a nasty shock when the US presidential election result came in during the early hours of Wednesday morning; 89% had predicted a win for Hillary Clinton, with 94% saying they would have voted for the Democrat candidate.

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