A ROBOT revolution will see millions of British jobs at risk of automation, a new report warns today.

The centre-left IPPR think-tank says the vote to leave the European Union has delivered a "profound shock" to the UK's political and economic order, which is likely to set the country on a “decade of disruption,” with permanently lower growth and living standards - and even Scottish independence.

By 2030, Britain’s economy is predicted to be £55 billion smaller than it would have been without Brexit.

Herald View: Folly to ignore the rise of the robots

At the same time, it claims, a rapidly ageing population - with the numbers of people aged 65 and over predicted to rise by a third by the end of the next decade - will impose new strains on the state with the funding gap for adult social care expected to hit £13 billion by 2030/31.

By the mid-2040s Britain will have the largest population of any European country; it will be more diverse with almost a third of it coming from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.

Constitutionally, the idea of a unitary British electoral map is going to become redundant on current trends given the decline of Unionist parties in Scotland.

“Political divergence will drive further devolution to Scotland or, potentially, even independence," says the report. "The political aftershocks of Brexit could outlast the economic effects.”

In the workplace, "exponential" improvements in new technologies such as artificial intelligence systems and machine learning will radically change the way people work, putting two-thirds of current jobs, some 15 million, at risk of automation.

Herald View: Folly to ignore the rise of the robots

Inequality will grow during the next decade or so as the income of high-earning households is forecast to rise 11 times faster than that of low income households.

The global economy and the institutions that govern it will come under intense pressure as the Global South rises in economic and political importance; half of all large companies will be based in emerging markets.

Climate change, biodiversity degradation, and resource depletion will mean the global community will increasingly run up against the limits of the physical capacity of the Earth’s natural systems.

However, the IPPR report, “Future Proof – Britain in the 2020s,” suggests it is in the workplace, where some of the biggest changes will occur due to a “tectonic technological shift”.

It predicts rapid advances in robotics, networks of autonomous electric vehicles, strides in developing intelligent automation, a rise in super-computer technology, ubiquitous digitalisation with the growth of “smart cities”, rapid improvements in green renewable technology and greater use of nano technology in health care.

While the report stresses the changes will not end "work as we know it", who benefits from the changes - and who loses out - will depend on politics, which is likely to become increasingly assertive in the economic arena after decades of a liberalising consensus.

Herald View: Folly to ignore the rise of the robots

While there is the potential to create an era of widespread abundance, the changes could also usher in a "second machine age" resulting in radical concentrations of economic power; work is likely to become more insecure and more freelance.

"Brexit is the firing gun on a decade of disruption," declares the report.

"Even as what we do and how we work changes, the UK is likely to remain trapped in a low growth, low interest rate decade driven by demographic shifts, productivity trends, weak investment, weak labour power, high levels of debt, and the headwinds of a slowing global economy.

"Without reform, our political and social system will struggle to build a more democratic, healthy society in the decades ahead, even as Brexit accelerates us towards a radically different institutional landscape."

Mathew Lawrence, the report’s author, said the challenge for Britain's progressives was to build a "high energy democracy" with meaningful engagement at national, city and local levels as well as in the marketplace through increasing the public's say over corporate governance, ownership and power.

The SNP said the IPPR report was further evidence of the profound consequences of a hard Tory Brexit on jobs, the economy and living standards.

“It underlines the fact that leaving Europe and the single market threatens to take Scotland off an economic cliff edge,” declared a spokesman.

Baroness Kramer for the Liberal Democrats said the report was a “devastating indictment” of the Tory Government’s hard Brexit strategy and argued many of the huge international challenges identified in it were “more effectively faced working with our European friends and within the single market”.

Herald View: Folly to ignore the rise of the robots

Meantime, Garry Clark for the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said businesses were planning for the future the best they could but it was important the New Year brought “some early clarity” around what future trading relationships might look like.