Goldman Sachs’ recent report indicates that artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to replace around 300 million full-time jobs, which accounts for a quarter of work tasks in the US and Europe. However, the report also suggests that AI might lead to new job opportunities and a surge in productivity.
The total global value of goods and services produced annually could rise by 7% due to AI advancements, with generative AI, which can create human-like content, being a key development.
In the UK, the government is encouraging investment in AI, believing that it will “drive productivity across the economy.” Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan seeks to reassure the public, stating that the aim is for AI to complement, rather than disrupt, the workforce.
AI’s impact on various sectors is expected to be uneven. While 46% of administrative and 44% of legal tasks might be automated, only 6% of construction and 4% of maintenance tasks would be affected. Some artists have also voiced concerns about AI image generators potentially affecting their job prospects.
Carl Benedikt Frey from the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University argues that generative AI could lead to more competition for journalists, resulting in lower wages, similar to the effect of GPS technology and platforms like Uber on taxi drivers.
The report cites research showing that 60% of current workers are in occupations that did not exist in 1940. However, other studies claim that since the 1980s, technology has displaced workers more quickly than it has generated jobs.
Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank, advises caution when predicting the long-term impact of AI. He emphasizes the importance of focusing on the possible benefits of higher productivity and more cost-effective services, as well as the risks of falling behind if other countries and companies better adapt to technological change.