There is a point in any talk about the automated future of the professions when the audience visibly relaxes.

It comes when futurists concede that a few expert lawyers, consultants or accountants will still be needed, even after cheaper, more efficient computer systems have taken over many of their juniors’ tasks.

It happened last week at a lecture by Richard and Daniel Susskind, which the organisers claimed was the largest ever gathering of senior managers in UK professional services firms.

The father-and-son authors of The Future of the Professions predicted radical change in the sector. But the tense scepticism in the room dissipated as each senior partner or director quietly acknowledged he or she would be a survivor, even if algorithms and artificial intelligence swept away the consultant or solicitor in the next seat.

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