Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are developing rapidly, with many potential benefits for economies, societies, communities and individuals. AI offers the promise of boosting productivity and innovation across a wide range of industries. But concerns have been raised about the long-term impact of these new technologies on jobs. What do we actually know about this?
The Royal Society and the British Academy have published an evidence synthesis of the likely impact of AI on work over the next decade or so, drawing on a review carried out by Frontier. The review, based on 160 different studies, found that the overall effect of AI on employment depends on the balance between:
- Immediate negative effects, such as job losses resulting from automation of production processes enabled by AI
- Positive countervailing effects, such as the new jobs created by increased demand for higher quality or cheaper goods and services that AI can help deliver
Quantifying the likely outcome of these effects is extremely difficult. A number of studies have estimated that between 10% and 30% of existing jobs in the UK could be impacted by AI-enabled automation. But recent economic analysis suggests that, once businesses have adjusted to the new technology, the overall effect of AI on the number of jobs will be close to zero.
Even if this turns out to be the case, the distributional effects of AI could still be important. There may be challenging transition periods between current jobs being lost and new ones being created, different benefits across social groups, and potential impacts on business market power. The overall benefit of AI for economies, societies, communities and individuals will be shaped by these factors, as well as regulatory constraints and public policy responses.
Frontier regularly advises private and public sector clients on issues of technology, innovation, economic growth, and industrial policy.
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