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Scenarios of the future of work

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A recent report on analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said the UK was facing a “sliding doors” moment around its implementation of generative AI, and called on the UK government to ensure that a fair industrial strategy was in place, according to an IPPR Press release. The IPPR paper, The IPPR paper, Transformed by AI: How generative artificial intelligence could affect work in the UK - and how to manage it, by Carsten Jung and Bhargav Srinvasa Desikan. The report identified two key stages of generative AI adoption: the first wave, which is already under way, and a second wave in which companies will more deeply integrate AI tech into their processes - a stage at which it suggests as many as 59 per cent of tasks done by workers could be vulnerable to being replaced by AI automation if no intervention occurs.It said that back office, entry level and part-time jobs were at the highest risk of being disrupted during the first wave - including secretarial, customer service and administrative roles - with women and young people the most likely to be affected as they are more likely to be in those roles. Those on lower wages were also identified as being the most exposed to being replaced by AI.

The study’s worst case scenario for the second wave of AI would be around 7.9 million job losses and no gross domestic product gains (GDP). However, the report suggests that if government and industry are proactive in protecting workers as the use of AI increases, there could be substantial economic benefits.

Its best case scenario for the second wave said no jobs would be lost as they are augmented to work alongside AI, which it claimed could lead to an economic boost of 13 per cent to GDP, around £306 billion (US$386 billion) a year.

IPPR also says that employment of AI could also free up labour to fill gaps related to unaddressed social needs. For instance, workers could be re-allocated to social care and mental health services which are currently under-resourced. But they she the modelling shows that there is no single predetermined path for how AI implementation will play out in the labour market. It also urges intervention to ensure that the economic gains are widely spread, rather than accruing to only a few.

Although the research for this report was undertaken in the UK, It seems likely that the different scenarios, while varying in quantity and impact, will also apply in many other countries.

The IPPR press release can be accessed here and the full report can be downloaded from the IPPR website.

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