Re-live - New Economy Short Cut: What the AI Revolution Means for Our Jobs

That the rapid development of artificial intelligence will change the world of work seems seems clear. Only what will we see in the end – more jobs? Or fewer? And which ones?






'As we ponder our uncertain AI future, our goal should not merely be to predict that future, but to create it.'
David Autor, 2022

The rapid advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the past months has sparked both fascination and concern. While some prominent technologists have been calling for a pause on large AI experiments, private investment in AI continues to grow, as it is seen as a transformative technology akin to electricity.

AI has also sparked the interest of economists, especially with regards to its labour market and welfare effects. A A growing number of economists are calling for the technological process to be steered in a more labour-friendly direction (see for example Acemoglu and Johnson 2023; Rodrik and Stantcheva 2021; Korinek, Schindler and Sitglitz 2021). Others advocate enhancing labour power or a stronger welfare state to deal with potential technological disruptions.

But what do we actually know about the economic consequences of the AI revolution? Will there be less jobs? Or even more? And which ones? While predicting the uncertain future is always difficult, more and more research is evolving around these questions. To discuss the state of scientific knowledge, we have invited OECD economist Stijn Broecke, co-author of the recent OECD employment outlook to our New Economy Short Cut on September 11.

In a large survey, the OECD economists have asked firms about their experiences with and opinions on AI technologies, with a nuanced picture of the costs and benefits emerging. Discussant was the labour market expert Ingo Isphording from the Research Institute on the Future of Work (IZA Bonn).

How AI will ultimately impact workers and the workplace, and whether the benefits will outweigh the risks, will also depend on the policy action that we take. The advance of AI in the workplace, in itself, should not be halted because there are many benefits to be reaped. Yet we should also avoid falling into the trap of “technological determinism”, where technology shapes social and cultural changes, rather than the other way around. To paraphrase labour economist David Autor, instead of asking what AI can do, we must ask what we want it to do for us.

OECD Employment Outlook 2023, Artificial Intelligence and the Labour Market

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