By Lucy Adautin
Nearly 40% of jobs in the world could suffer due to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), a trend which is likely to deepen inequality, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva called for governments to establish social safety nets and offer retraining programs to counter the impact of AI on Sunday
“In most scenarios, AI will likely worsen overall inequality, a troubling trend that policymakers must proactively address to prevent the technology from further stoking social tensions,” she wrote ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, where the topic is set to be high on the agenda.
Georgieva noted that as AI continues to be adapted by more workers and businesses, it’s expected to both help and hurt the human workforce as the effects are expected to be felt more deeply in advanced economies than emerging markets, partly because white-collar workers are seen to be more at risk than manual laborers.
In more developed economies, as much as 60% of jobs could be impacted by AI. Approximately half of those may benefit from how AI promotes higher productivity, she said.
“For the other half, AI applications may execute key tasks currently performed by humans, which could lower labor demand, leading to lower wages and reduced hiring, in the most extreme cases, some of these jobs may disappear” wrote Georgieva, citing the IMF’s analysis.
In emerging markets and lower income nations, 40% and 26% of jobs are expected to be affected by AI, respectively. Emerging markets refer to places such as India and Brazil with sustained economic growth, while low-income countries refer to developing economies with per capita income falling within a certain level such as Burundi and Sierra Leone.
“Many of these countries don’t have the infrastructure or skilled workforces to harness the benefits of AI, raising the risk that over time the technology could worsen inequality,” noted Georgieva.
She also warned that the use of AI could increase chances of social unrest, particularly if younger, less experienced workers seized on the technology as a way to help boost their output while more senior workers struggle to keep up, as
AI became a hot topic at the WEF in Davos last year as ChatGPT took the world by storm.
The chatbot sensation, which is powered by generative AI, sparked conversations on how it could change the way people work around the world due to its ability to write essays, speeches, poems and more.
Since then, upgrades to the technology have expanded the use of AI chatbots and systems, making them more mainstream and spurring massive investment as some tech firms have already directly pointed to AI as a reason they are rethinking staffing levels.
As workplaces get to shift, widespread adoption of AI could ultimately increase labor productivity and boost global GDP by 7% annually over a 10-year period, according to a March 2023 estimate by Goldman Sachs economists.
Georgieva, also cited in her blog post, the opportunities to boost output and incomes around the world with the use of AI. “AI will transform the global economy, let’s make sure it benefits humanity,” she said.