In a groundbreaking analysis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to impact nearly 40 percent of jobs globally, raising concerns about worsening inequality.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva emphasised the need for proactive policymaking to mitigate the potentially detrimental effects of AI on the workforce.
Georgieva stated, “In most scenarios, AI will likely worsen overall inequality,” urging policymakers to address this “troubling trend” and prevent technology from exacerbating social tensions.
The IMF’s research suggests that advanced economies, accounting for approximately 60 percent of AI-affected jobs, face greater risks, with potential disruptions to approximately half of these jobs.
While some workers in advanced economies may benefit from increased productivity through AI integration, the technology’s ability to perform tasks currently executed by humans poses a risk to certain jobs, potentially leading to lower wages and job displacement.
Safety nets and retraining programmes are crucial
The IMF’s analysis also revealed that low-income countries are projected to be less affected, with AI impacting only 26 percent of jobs in these nations.
Georgieva stressed the importance of comprehensive social safety nets and retraining programs, particularly for vulnerable workers, to ensure a more inclusive transition to an AI-driven economy. The IMF’s findings align with a 2023 Goldman Sachs report, which estimated that AI could replace 300 million full-time jobs globally, underscoring the need for a balanced approach to harnessing the benefits of AI while minimising its negative impacts.
The report further highlighted that higher-income and younger workers may experience a disproportionate increase in wages after adopting AI, potentially deepening income inequality. On the other hand, lower-income and older workers may face challenges adapting to the changes brought about by AI.
The World Economic Forum
The global discussion on AI’s impact has gained momentum at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where business and political leaders are gathering. Regulatory efforts are underway globally, with the European Union, China, the United States, and the United Kingdom introducing measures to address the ethical and societal implications of AI.
As AI continues to shape the future of work, the IMF’s call for comprehensive strategies to mitigate inequality and protect workers reflects the growing urgency for responsible AI development and implementation on the global stage.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.