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IMF highlights AI’s threat to 40% of global jobs, rising inequality

In a recent assessment by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it has been revealed that nearly 40% of jobs worldwide could be influenced by the burgeoning development of artificial intelligence (AI), a trend that might exacerbate existing inequalities globally. This significant finding was released as international leaders in business and politics converge for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

IMF highlights AI's threat to 40% of global jobs, rising inequality

The IMF’s study, conducted at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., indicates a disproportionate impact of AI across different economic strata. High-income nations are poised to face more pronounced risks, with approximately 60% of jobs potentially affected by AI advancements. In these regions, AI could amplify productivity for about half of the roles, leveraging the technology’s capabilities.

Conversely, emerging markets and low-income countries are estimated to see a lower impact in the short term, with AI affecting about 40% and 26% of jobs respectively. This disparity is attributed to varying levels of infrastructure and skilled workforce availability, raising concerns about widening the gap of inequality. IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva emphasized the urgency for policymakers to address this “troubling trend,” advocating for proactive measures to mitigate the potentially divisive effects of AI on societal cohesion.

Georgieva highlighted the paradox of AI: its potential to boost productivity and global growth, and concurrently, its capability to displace jobs and deepen income disparities. The report further delves into the potential internal disparities within nations, pointing out that AI could cause a polarization within income brackets. Workers with access to AI benefits could see enhancements in productivity and earnings, while those without such access might experience further economic marginalization.

In contrast, a previous projection by Goldman Sachs suggested that AI could affect as many as 300 million jobs globally. However, the Wall Street giant also acknowledged the positive aspect of AI in potentially stimulating labor productivity and economic growth, potentially increasing the gross domestic product by up to 7%. The WEF forum aims to foster open and constructive dialogue among policymakers, business leaders, and civil society, with AI’s benefits and drawbacks being a central topic. The event, however, has faced criticism in recent years for being perceived as disconnected, ineffective, and irrelevant.

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