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Goldman Sachs: ChatGPT could see the loss of 300 million jobs worldwide

Generative AI could lead to “significant disruption” in the labour market: new tech could impact 300 million full-time jobs.

ChatGPT creator OpenAI says is freshly released tool for detecting when artificial intelligence authored text rather than a human remains a work in progress and should not be completely relied upon to make the call
ChatGPT creator OpenAI says is freshly released tool for detecting when artificial intelligence authored text rather than a human remains a work in progress and should not be completely relied upon to make the call — © AFP AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
ChatGPT creator OpenAI says is freshly released tool for detecting when artificial intelligence authored text rather than a human remains a work in progress and should not be completely relied upon to make the call — © AFP AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

Since the Industrial Revolution, innovations in technology have come with the threat of job losses. As the folk singer Ewan MacColl once sang: “Watch out for the man with the silicon chip / Hold on to your job with a good firm grip / ‘Cause if you don’t you’ll have had your chips / The same as my old man.”

Despite the more adverse predictions over the past 150 years, the global economy has shown remarkable robustness for reinvention and the general outcome has been for the world of work to change and for people to end up in different roles (notably the blue collar to white collar occupational shift). However, the level of employment required by advanced capitalist states has remained stable, at around the 90 percent mark.

Could this level of employment be set to change with the latest wave of automation? According to Goldman Sachs economists Joseph Briggs and Devesh Kodnani the answer is ‘yes’ and they predict that as many as 300 million full-time jobs around the world are set to become automated, with workers replaced by machines. The reason for this stark prediction is the appearance of the newest waves of artificial intelligence, especially sophisticated large language models, including neural networks like ChatGPT.

Goldman Sachs predict that such technology could bring “significant disruption” to the labour market. Lawyers, economists, writers, and administrative staff would be among those at greatest risk of becoming redundant. Goldman Sachs calculates that approximately two-thirds of jobs in the U.S. and Europe is set to be exposed to AI automation, to various degrees. This is based on data on the tasks typically performed in thousands of occupations.

The Goldman Sachs assessment further determines that 18 percent of work globally could be computerized, according to CNN’s assessment. In general white-collar workers, and workers in advanced economies in general, are at a greater risk than manual laborers.

In the report they write: “The combination of significant labor cost savings, new job creation, and a productivity boost for non-displaced workers raises the possibility of a labor productivity boom like those that followed the emergence of earlier general-purpose technologies like the electric motor and personal computer.”

Central to these predictions is ChatGPT and the buzz that has developed around it. The GPT part stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer.  The platform is pre-trained by human developers and then are left to learn for itself, gathering information and then delivering the knowledge back to humans in the form of ‘chat’. This includes responding to questions through to writing essays.

While the technology is still a little rough and ready (albeit improving with GPT-4), the concept has prompted many businesses to rethink how people should work every day.

While jobs will go, the Goldman Sachs report sees the economy as remaining robust and they foresee global GDP rising by 7 percent annually over a 10-year period through these types of technologies.

Yet if employment rates fall, workers may not have the wages to buy the products that the advances in automation are set to deliver, creating economic instability. Or perhaps new jobs will emerge? A question for ChatGPT?

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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