March 29, 2023
The latest developments in generative artificial intelligence could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs, a report by investment bank Goldman Sachs claims. The authors suggest that the technology could replace around a quarter of the work tasks carried out in the US and Europe but may also mean new jobs and a productivity boom. The report claims that the tech could increase total annual value of goods and services produced globally by 7 percent.
But if the technology lived up to its promise, it would also bring significant disruption to the labour market, exposing the equivalent of 300 million full-time workers across the world’s major economies to automation, according to Goldman Sachs. The report claims that 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 automation from generative artificial intelligence.
“If generative AI delivers on its promised capabilities, the labor market could face significant disruption,” the investment banker said in its report. Some two-thirds of US jobs are exposed to automation by AI, Goldman said, adding that of those positions affected, as much as 50 percent of their workload could be replaced. “Although the impact of AI on the labor market is likely to be significant, most jobs and industries are only partially exposed to automation and are thus more likely to be complemented rather than substituted by AI,” the authors claim.
According to the study, 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 percent of the workforce, they calculated. A further 30 percent working in physical or outdoor jobs would be unaffected, although their work might be susceptible to other forms of automation. But about 7 percent 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 300 million full-time jobs across big economies.
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 percent of the US workforce could see at least 10 percent of their tasks performed by generative AI, based on analysis by human researchers and the company’s machine large language model (LLM).
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 percent 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.
The report does 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.