Generative AI can replace 18% of jobs

A study by Goldman Sachs estimates a negative impact on employment in the medium term of 300 million jobs lost.

Posted on 05 April 2023 by Valentina Bernocco

Generative artificial intelligence continues to amaze and even worry, with increasingly rapid progress and the ability to understand, process and create content now refined. And there are not only ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI and developed by Microsoft, or its "rival" developed by Alphabet, Bard, because at a rapid pace are created and made available online applications for writing journalistic articles and curriculum vitae, software programming, photo-like image creation and animation videos, music composition and more. It is recent news the launch by Meta of a new image recognition algorithm called Segment Anything Model, which can identify objects in photographs or videos even if they were never "met" previously during training. In the future it could be used to recognize what we’re seeing through augmented reality headsets, or it could provide support in a variety of fields, from agriculture to scientific research.

The world of AI of course is not limited to generative artificial intelligence and began to develop well before OpenAI became the most talked about company of the moment. In the last decade, at least, machine learning and automation technologies capable of replacing humans have taken root in disparate fields, from industry to customer support, from marketing to finance, to computer security software. It has often been said that AI is not a real threat to employment, because it can replace man in non-intellectual and low value-added activities, but at the same time create new professions and more skilled jobs.

Does all this still apply, in the light of the latest technological developments and those that lie ahead? A new study by Goldman Sachs estimates that worldwide, over the medium term, some 300 million jobs (full-time equivalent) could disappear as a result of generative artificial intelligence. 

Emerging economies are more exposed to the risk of substitution than economically developed countries, but in general it can be estimated that AI can replace 18% of the world’s workforce. Estimates, among other things, are conservative and the percentages lower than those of other similar studies, in which robotics technologies not based on AI are also considered in the impact calculation. 

According to analysts at Goldman Sachs, 46% of businesses in the administrative professions will be automated, 44% in the legal sector, 37% in architecture and engineering. The threat is more mitigated for those working in the construction sector (where automation can involve 6% of activities), installations and repairs (4%) and maintenance (1%).  Already in Europe and the United States about a quarter of jobs could be transformed by partial automation based on AI.

The technological change, the authors point out, from the post-war period until the end of the seventies has created new job opportunities at the same pace with which it erased them, while from the eighties onwards the impact on employment has been negative. Goldman Sachs' analysis suggests that generative AI will also have a negative impact on employment at least in the short term, not too different from other information technologies that have marked contemporary history (think about computers). If nothing else, AI will improve productivity (allowing you to do more faster and at lower costs) but above all it will encourage the demand for new professionals.

Tags: scenarios, work, ai, artificial intelligence, Ai generativa, Goldman Sachs

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