AI for Good blog

Generative AI and jobs: A global analysis on AI and the future of work

AI Governance

by Alexandra Bustos Iliescu

A new webinar series on “AI & Work,” curated by the International Labour Union (ILO), a United Nations agency, kicks off with a presentation of a global ILO study which analyses the potential exposure of occupations and tasks to Generative AI, and the possible implications of such exposure for job quantity and quality.  

  • Innovative methodology uses AI to predict its impact on jobs, focusing on task automation and augmentation. 
  • Policy and skilling strategies support workers through AI-induced labour market changes. 
  • Concerns about job quality erosion due to AI underline the need for policies to maintain high-quality employment standards. 

Experts from the International Labour Organization (ILO) have recently explored the immediate and long-term effects of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on employment, presenting their findings on both the qualitative and quantitative impacts. Senior Economist Janine Berg and Senior Researcher Pawel Gmyrek provided an exhaustive analysis that reflects a profound comprehension of labour markets and the ongoing digital transformation of work. Their investigation illuminates the ambivalent aspects of AI’s integration into the workforce, offering crucial observations on both its potential benefits and challenges. 

The discourse began with an insightful overview by Reinhard Scholl of the International Telecommunication Union, succinctly capturing the essence of the prevailing debate on technological change and its impact on humanity. He introduced the contrasting perspectives that set the tone for a comprehensive examination of AI’s transformative potential and its implications for job creation and quality. 

“One side argues that history has shown that technological change, in the end, always worked out for the better of humanity…The other side, however, argues that this time things will be different,” Reinhard Scholl, AI for Good 

In an innovative approach, Pawel Gmyrek showcased a methodology that utilizes AI itself to evaluate its impact on employment. This technique, which involves analyzing tasks listed under the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO), provides a detailed analysis of how AI advancements might influence various occupations. “We take each of those 3,123 tasks and we loop the model over it…and say, give us a score between zero and one of whether this can be done with a technology of a similar capacity as GPT-4.” Such a methodological approach offers a nuanced understanding of the evolving nature of work in the face of AI developments. 

Highlighting the indispensable role of policy in managing employment transitions triggered by AI, Janine Berg stressed the importance of collective action in adapting to these shifts.  

“Skilling policies here are really important but this is not something that should just be the burden of an individual worker…it’s really necessary to have some sort of collective approach” Janine Berg, ILO 

Indeed, Janine underscored the significance of skilling policies, advocating for a community-oriented approach to worker re-skilling and up-skilling. This perspective emphasizes the necessity of empowering workers to remain competitive and relevant in the future workforce. 

Pawel Gmyrek touched on the nuanced impact of AI, pointing out that the primary concern lies not in job elimination but in the potential degradation of job quality.  

“Bigger risk than eliminating jobs is the erosion of the quality of jobs…what you could see is basically fragmentation into maybe the same number of jobs, maybe fewer, but jobs of worse quality,” Pawel Gmyrek, ILO.

This insight calls for a thoughtful examination of AI integration across different sectors, urging for policies that preserve job quality even as the nature of work evolves. 

Through their comprehensive analysis, the experts highlighted the critical need for proactive policy measures and cooperative initiatives to ensure that AI’s integration into the labour market benefits all involved parties. As we navigate the rapid digital transformation of work, the research presented by Berg and Gmyrek acts as a guiding light, advocating for the optimization of AI’s potential while safeguarding the dignity and quality of employment for generations to come. 

Meet the speakers

Meet the moderator

International Labour Organization (ILO)
International Labour Organization (ILO)
Deputy Director
International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

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