We have argued before that the impact of automation on the labour market is likely to be substantial in the decade to come. Pandemic-related shocks to worker availability and wages, as well as developments in technology and social willingness to use automated processes (such as in restaurants and hotels) will likely mean more automation in the obvious way – robots replacing jobs. But what about other technological developments? The rapid improvements in AI in recent years have opened up a huge array of possibilities. The recent release of Open AI’s Chat GPT is the most high-profile, and showcases how AI can speed up and improve the output in many roles, including journalism, research and, dare we say it, economics.
We see AI developments as broadly positive. Yes, there will be challenges within some fields in discerning what content is AI generated and what is generated by humans. Some gaps in the AI knowledge or coding issues can lead to malfunctions or bias in outputs. Job roles could be lost within the knowledge economy.
But, the scope for productivity gains is huge. Researching, problem solving (such as finding coding solutions), marking exam results or homework and many more tasks will be faster and more efficient in future. Many other scientific breakthroughs in health or technology could be accelerated. This could open doors to more jobs being created, or to give people more time in which to enjoy leisure. It’s more likely, in our view, that AI takes some (the boring bit) of your job, rather than all of it.
This could trigger some substantial productivity gains for many roles if used correctly, and although the outlook for AI and its impact is uncertain, this is just the beginning.
First published 18 January 2023
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