AI unlikely to destroy jobs, but cost to certain workers may be ‘brutal’ — UN study

Generative AI is more likely to complement existing jobs than take over them entirely, though certain roles such as clerical work — could see more of their tasks automated than others. 

According to an Aug. 21 Generative AI and Jobs study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) — a United Nations agency — 24% of clerical tasks are considered highly exposed to automation, with an additional 58% with medium-level exposure.

<em>Tasks with high and medium GPT-exposure by occupational category. Source: ILO</em>

Typists, travel consultants, bank tellers, contact center clerks, bookkeeping and data entry clerks, hotel receptionists and secretaries are the administration roles most at risk, the figures show.

This, according to the ILO, could suggest that women could be more at risk, given their higher representation in administrative roles.

“3.7 per cent of all female employment in the world is in jobs that are potentially automatable with generative AI technology, compared with only 1.4 per cent of male employment.”

Meanwhile, AI automated work is more likely to impact employees in high-income countries (5.5%) compared to low-income countries (0.4%), the report found:

<em>Occupations with high automation potential by income level and sex. Source: ILO</em>

The ILO’s study on generative AI mostly focused on the impact of chatbot applications, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.

Crypto customer service

The ILO report also shows customer service and coordination-related tasks as having high automation potential, along with data management and record keeping, information processing and language services, tasks related to responding to inquiries. 

<em>Table showing tasks with high automation potential clustered into thematic groups. Source: ILO</em>

Many customer service roles were lost in the most recent crypto winter of 2022, which saw some of the industry’s heavyweights in Binance, Coinbase and Kraken significantly reduce headcounts, including customer service.

Currently, customer service roles in Web3 comprise 832 (2.5%) of the total 33,846 listings on cryptocurrency job board

Related: Dear crypto writers: No one wants to read your ChatGPT-generated trash

However, the ILO concluded that the workforce as a whole won’t be too affected by AI and that AI’s overall impact were neither particularly positive nor negative for now — rather, its impact will depend on how GPTs are managed and regulated.

“Without proper policies in place, there is a risk that only some of the well-positioned countries and market participants will be able to harness the benefits of the transition, while the costs to affected workers could be brutal,” it wrote. 

ILO’s findings are more optimistic than that of everyday Americans, with a recent survey revealing that 62% of the U.S. population believe AI will have a major impact in the workplace over the next two decades, leaving many Americans “wary” and “worried” about what their future holds.

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