The latest breakthroughs in artificial intelligence could lead to the automation of a quarter of the work done in the US and eurozone, according to research by Goldman Sachs.
The investment bank said on Monday that “generative” AI systems such as ChatGPT, which can create content that is indistinguishable from human output, could spark a productivity boom that would eventually raise annual global gross domestic product by 7 per cent over a 10-year period.
But if the technology lived up to its promise, it would also bring “significant disruption” to the labour market, exposing the equivalent of 300mn full-time workers across big economies to automation, according to Joseph Briggs and Devesh Kodnani, the paper’s authors. Lawyers and administrative staff would be among those at greatest risk of becoming redundant.
They calculate that roughly two-thirds of jobs in the US and Europe are exposed to some degree of AI automation, based on data on the tasks typically performed in thousands of occupations.
Most people would see less than half of their workload automated and would probably continue in their jobs, with some of their time freed up for more productive activities.
In the US, this should apply to 63 per cent of the workforce, they calculated. A further 30 per cent working in physical or outdoor jobs would be unaffected, although their work might be susceptible to other forms of automation.
But about 7 per cent of US workers are in jobs where at least half of their tasks could be done by generative AI and are vulnerable to replacement.
Goldman said its research pointed to a similar impact in Europe. At a global level, since manual jobs are a bigger share of employment in the developing world, it estimates about a fifth of work could be done by AI — or about 300mn full-time jobs across big economies.
The report will stoke debate over the potential of AI technologies both to revive the rich world’s flagging productivity growth and to create a new class of dispossessed white-collar workers, who risk suffering a similar fate to that of manufacturing workers in the 1980s.
Goldman’s estimates of the impact are more conservative than those of some academic studies, which included the effects of a wider range of related technologies.
A paper published last week by OpenAI, the creator of GPT-4, found that 80 per cent of the US workforce could see at least 10 per cent of their tasks performed by generative AI, based on analysis by human researchers and the company’s machine large language model (LLM).
Europol, the law enforcement agency, also warned this week that rapid advances in generative AI could aid online fraudsters and cyber criminals, so that “dark LLMs . . . may become a key criminal business model of the future”.
Goldman said that if corporate investment in AI continued to grow at a similar pace to software investment in the 1990s, US investment alone could approach 1 per cent of US GDP by 2030.
The Goldman estimates are based on an analysis of US and European data on the tasks typically performed in thousands of different occupations. The researchers assumed that AI would be capable of tasks such as completing tax returns for a small business; evaluating a complex insurance claim; or documenting the results of a crime scene investigation.
They did not envisage AI being adopted for more sensitive tasks such as making a court ruling, checking the status of a patient in critical care or studying international tax laws.
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