Artificial intelligence is set to affect nearly 40% of all jobs, according to a new analysis by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
IMF’s managing director Kristalina Georgieva says “in most scenarios, AI will likely worsen overall inequality”.
Ms Georgieva adds that policymakers should address the “troubling trend” to “prevent the technology from further stoking social tensions”.
The proliferation of AI has put its benefits and risks under the spotlight.
The IMF said AI is likely to affect a greater proportion of jobs – put at around 60% – in advanced economies. In half of these instances, workers can expect to benefit from the integration of AI, which will enhance their productivity.
In other instances, AI will have the ability to perform key tasks that are currently executed by humans. This could lower demand for labour, affecting wages and even eradicating jobs.
Meanwhile, the IMF projects that the technology will affect just 26% of jobs in low-income countries.
It echoes a report from Goldman Sachs in 2023, which estimated AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs – but said there may also be new jobs alongside a boom in productivity.
Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in November people should not be worried about the impact of AI on jobs at all, because reforms to education reforms would boost skills.
Ms Georgieva said “many of these countries don’t have the infrastructure or skilled workforces to harness the benefits of AI, raising the risk that over time the technology could worsen inequality among nations”.
More generally, higher-income and younger workers may see a disproportionate increase in their wages after adopting AI.
Lower-income and older workers could fall behind, the IMF believes.
“It is crucial for countries to establish comprehensive social safety nets and offer retraining programmes for vulnerable workers,” Ms Georgieva said. “In doing so, we can make the AI transition more inclusive, protecting livelihoods and curbing inequality.”
The IMF analysis comes as global business and political leaders gather at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
AI is a topic of discussion, following the surge in popularity of applications like ChatGPT.
The technology is facing increased regulation around the world. Last month, European Union officials reached a provisional deal on the world’s first comprehensive laws to regulate the use of AI.
The European Parliament will vote on the AI Act proposals early this year, but any legislation will not take effect until at least 2025.