Artificial Intelligence (AI) is more likely to enhance jobs rather than eliminate them, according to a recent study conducted by the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO). This research comes at a time when concerns about the potential impact of AI on the workforce are on the rise. While the launch of ChatGPT, a generative AI platform capable of performing complex tasks, sparked fears of a drastic transformation in the workplace, the ILO’s study indicates that most jobs and industries will only be partially exposed to automation.
The study suggests that the latest wave of Generative AI, such as ChatGPT, is more likely to complement jobs rather than replace them. Rather than focusing on job destruction, the study highlights potential changes to the quality of jobs, particularly in terms of work intensity and autonomy. However, the impact of AI will vary significantly across professions and regions, with women being more vulnerable to job disruption than men.
Among various job categories, clerical work is deemed to have the highest technological exposure, with nearly a quarter of tasks considered highly exposed and over half of tasks having medium-level exposure. On the other hand, managerial and technical roles were found to have a smaller share of highly exposed tasks, with around a quarter having medium exposure levels.
The analysis also revealed that higher-income countries are more likely to experience the greatest effects of automation due to the significant presence of clerical and para-professional jobs in their job markets. In high-income countries, 5.5 percent of total employment is potentially exposed to the automating effects of generative AI, whereas only 0.4 percent of employment in low-income countries is at risk.
Furthermore, the study demonstrated that the potential impact of automation on employment is more than twice as high for women compared to men. This is primarily due to women being overrepresented in clerical work, especially in middle- and high-income countries. However, the report emphasized that with the right policies in place, developing countries can also harness the benefits of this technological transformation.
While augmentation of jobs through AI may offer positive prospects, such as automating routine tasks to allow more engaging work, the study cautioned that it could also be implemented in ways that limit workers’ agency or increase work intensity.
In conclusion, the UN’s ILO study provides valuable insights into the impact of AI on jobs and industries. It suggests that rather than destroying jobs, AI is more likely to enhance them, with potential changes to job quality and gender disparities. However, it emphasizes the need for careful policy implementation to ensure that augmentation benefits workers and does not intensify workloads or limit employee agency. By considering these factors, societies can navigate the ongoing technological transformation for the benefit of all.