Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said about the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence (House of Lords) report:

“Artificial Intelligence is entering a critical stage in its evolution and adoption. Even the Institution’s own Formula Student competition, where students design, build and then race a sports car, is encouraging students to look to the future by introducing an AI element. This year, students will have the opportunity to develop a cost-effective software package that will allow an AI car to make its own decisions, and learn and improve from its performance in a safe environment.

“The Report highlights that as AI decreases demand for some jobs, but creates demand for others, retraining will become a lifelong necessity. I would suggest that it will become more important for the next generation to understand how AI can be used to enhance their work, rather than fear the effects on their roles and whether their jobs will be replaced. AI has an enormous potential to support engineers across a wide variety of sectors and specialisms and is already in use in areas, such as, design analysis and simulation, manufacturing, energy and transport.

“As AI becomes a more integral part of our day-to-day lives, regulation must be specific to each sector, rather than an overarching framework. In 2016, the Institution’s Case Study on Autonomous and Driverless Cars raised the need to address societal questions before highly and fully automated cars are both accepted and legally able to be positioned on our roads; this will include having the right regulatory framework in place. Engineers will need to create an environment where connected autonomous vehicles can operate safely with or without an operator during a transition period to a fully autonomous vehicle system. This transition period could last for several decades.”