The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has issued a warning that nearly 40% of jobs worldwide could be impacted by the increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI), potentially exacerbating existing inequalities. IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva emphasized the need for governments to implement social safety nets and retraining programs to mitigate the potential negative consequences of AI on employment.
Georgieva highlighted the expected dual impact of AI adoption, stating that while it may enhance productivity and benefit approximately half of the workforce, the other half could face challenges. In more developed economies, up to 60% of jobs might be influenced by AI, with half of them experiencing increased productivity. However, the remaining half could see reduced labor demand, leading to lower wages and diminished hiring. In extreme cases, some jobs might even disappear.
The effects of AI are anticipated to be more pronounced in advanced economies compared to emerging markets, primarily due to the perception that white-collar workers are at higher risk than manual laborers. In advanced economies, the potential impact on jobs is significant, raising concerns about widening social inequality.
In emerging markets like India and Brazil, as well as lower-income nations like Burundi and Sierra Leone, around 40% and 26% of jobs, respectively, are expected to be affected by AI. Georgieva emphasized the challenges faced by these countries, citing insufficient infrastructure and skilled workforces, which may hinder their ability to harness the benefits of AI and could contribute to worsening inequality.
As AI continues to play an increasing role in workplaces globally, the IMF’s analysis underscores the importance of proactive policy measures to address the potential disruptions to employment and to ensure that the adoption of AI contributes positively to society without exacerbating existing social tensions. The topic is set to be a focal point of discussion at the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.