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Will AI take your job?

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Artificial intelligence and the labour market

  • With rapid developments in artificial intelligence…
  • …more jobs may be threatened by technology…
  • …but many roles may benefit from big productivity gains

In a decade that already has seen a number of incredible scientific breakthroughs, from COVID-19 vaccines to fusion energy, it’s important not to underestimate the potential speed of development within a number of core technologies that could have the potential to change the way we think about the economy.

One of those areas with rapid development in recent years has been artificial intelligence (AI), where the improvements, such as creating images and text in an entirely self generated manner, have opened the door to a transformative impact on the economy.

Artificial Intelligence can speed up and improve the output in many roles

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

Would you like to find out more? Click here* to read a free-to-view version of the report – including the output of a ‘conversation’ with Chat GPT on the outlook for automation in the labour market.

To find out more about HSBC Global Research or to become a subscriber get in touch at askresearch@hsbc.com.

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