Generative AI and Job Security
27 April, 2023 by
Generative AI and Job Security

A recent report from Goldman Sachs predicts that generative artificial intelligence (AI) could globally expose the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs to automation. The report suggests that the use of generative artificial intelligence will lead to a rapid acceleration of task automation, resulting in labour cost savings and increased productivity.

According to a chart in the report, our city is expected to have the highest "Share of Full-time Equivalent Employment Exposed to Automation by AI" among more than 30 countries, regions, or cities. While some may view this as a threat to our local job security, the data only shows "exposure to full-time employment from AI automation" and does not necessarily indicate a negative impact.

In comparison to many countries or cities with well-developed manufacturing and agriculture industries, our city has a higher proportion of its labour force employed in professional roles such as accountants and lawyers, business management positions such as sales or marketing managers, clerical administration roles such as office managers and operations staff, as well as many positions related to the digital work environment such as those in banking and finance. It is therefore reasonable to expect that a greater percentage of jobs will be impacted by generative AI.

At the same time, being "Exposed to Automation by AI" may not necessarily be harmful to social productivity growth and could potentially bring significant macroeconomic benefits to society. Another chart in the report estimates that our city achieves its highest productivity growth rate in "The Effect of (generative) AI Adoption on Annual Productivity Growth, 10-year Adoption Horizon". As stated in the report, AI automation may complement rather than replace productivity. Even if an individual's job is replaced by generative AI automation, the laid-off worker may eventually be re-employed in a socially acceptable job. Combined with increased productivity from non-laid-off workers, this could result in an overall increase in society's total productivity output.

It may be difficult to imagine that the use of calculators, software spreadsheets or even personal computers in the past could have been perceived as a threat to job security. While we cannot predict the future with certainty, we can look back at how the world has changed since the advent of the internet.

In the past 20 years, the internet has revolutionized communication with tools such as email messaging and WhatsApp, made information more transparent through the world wide web and facilitated global shopping through online marketplaces. More recently, machine learning and artificial intelligence have been applied to commercial services such as Netflix.

The internet can be thought of as a global digital network infrastructure. Similarly, Large Language Models (LLM) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies such as generative artificial intelligence, related machine learning models and algorithms, and cloud services like OpenAI's ChatGPT, Google's Bard and Microsoft's Azure GPT can be considered as various technical infrastructures or platforms. It is foreseeable that entrepreneurs, researchers, and software engineers will continue to create, develop, and release new software frameworks, plugins, applications, and services for these language models. This will drive labour cost savings and increased productivity. Today, we already see the use of language translation, chatbot helpdesk, generative question and answer, and document summarization. No doubt there will be more to come.

While some may argue that the use of AI technology to improve productivity could have negative consequences for humans, it's important to consider the potential benefits. For example, AI automation could allow us to work less and live smarter (like Work From Home facilitated by various technologies can save time and resources by eliminating the need for commuting). Additionally, AI automation can help us maintain the same output while reducing working hours, leading to a better work-life balance. Furthermore, AI technology can also have a positive impact on the environment. Google, for instance, uses AI to reduce energy consumption in its data centres.

However, it's important to approach AI with caution. In the early days of the internet, security measures were not thoroughly planned and discussed. As a result, users today are vulnerable to various security threats such as hacking attacks, false information dissemination and cyber scams. As AI technologies continue to emerge and evolve, it's crucial that all parts of the world work together to discuss and implement precautionary measures and guidelines. This could include strengthening existing regulations and adopting common standards or guidelines to protect society from any potential negative effects of artificial intelligence.

Related reading : Generative AI Could Impact 300M Jobs, Goldman Sachs Predicts


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