What generative AI really means for the economy, jobs and education

2R7B11F London, UK. 14th June 2023. UK screenwriters and Writers? Guild Of Great Britain (WGGB) members stage a rally in Leicester Square in solidarity with striking screenwriters in the USA. Credit: Vuk Valcic/Alamy Live News

LIKE IT or not, the age of generative AI is upon us. Anyone with an internet connection now has access to tools that can answer almost every question under the sun, write everything from university essays to computer code and produce art or photorealistic images.

The jury is still out on whether all this represents a stride towards super-intelligent AI. Even if progress stagnates, however, the capabilities available today could profoundly affect the economy, jobs, education, culture and more. So how is the current generation of AI going to reshape the world, and your life, in the next five to 10 years?

Broadly speaking, forecasters are predicting that generative AI will boost economic productivity and growth in advanced economies. A report released by Goldman Sachs in March predicts that generative AI could, within a decade, raise annual global GDP by 7 per cent, which translates to a roughly $7 trillion increase. “The combination of significant labor cost savings, new job creation and a productivity boost for non-displaced workers raises the possibility of a labor productivity boom like those that followed the emergence of earlier general-purpose technologies like the electric motor and personal computer,” says the report.

The idea is that AI will make millions of “knowledge workers”, like scientists, editors, lawyers and doctors, more productive within a few years. But the truth is that these things are hard to predict and assess, especially as the output of such workers is notoriously difficult to measure.

One area where generative AI is stoking anxiety is employment, but the picture could be different to previous waves of automation, says Avi Goldfarb …

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