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Sunday, April 14, 2024

AI Revolution Could Wipe Out Millions of Jobs, OECD Warns

More than a quarter of jobs in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rely on skills that could be easily automated in the coming artificial intelligence revolution, and workers fear they could lose their jobs to AI. The Paris-based bloc demanded “urgent action” to ensure the responsible and trustworthy deployment of AI, according to its Employment Outlook 2023 report released on Tuesday. High-skill occupations are most at risk, with lawyers and administrators most likely to see their tasks replaced by robots. The report found that low-skill jobs in construction and agriculture are also likely to disappear but will likely be replaced by other jobs with higher pay.

Amid growing evidence of bias in AI-facilitated hiring processes, the OECD said it was essential that policies be implemented to prevent discriminatory uses of artificial intelligence, especially for those already disadvantaged in the labor market, such as women, minorities, and indigenous peoples. It warned of the dangers of “untrained” algorithms introducing biases into the workplace and the use of biased data sets in training AI systems.

While many workers worry about losing their jobs to robots, the OECD report indicated that for most, the threat was not a matter of whether they would be laid off but instead of the kind of changes in the workplace they might experience. Most surveyed believed that AI could reduce tedious and dangerous tasks in their work, leading to greater worker engagement and physical safety.

However, three out of five workers worried that they might be laid off in the next decade by AI, with Eastern European nations at the highest risk. The OECD said that a significant share also thought wages in their sector would decrease because of AI. Two-thirds of those who already worked with AI said it had made their job less boring and monotonous and more efficient.

The OECD added that Those worried about losing their jobs to AI need support. Wage policies such as minimum wages and collective bargaining can help mitigate the impact of AI on labor markets. It said that governments can also provide direct support through tax and benefit systems to protect low-wage workers’ purchasing power.

The OECD is best known for its regular economic reports and policy criticisms, such as its work on corporate tax avoidance, which often hits nations on their home turf. It is also renowned for its international test of educational standards, the PISA. Its reports are widely read and quoted in the media. Still, arguably its most important contribution is its analysis of global trends and challenges in labor markets, which helps countries coordinate their policy responses. Its work on the global economy and its efforts to address crises in emerging markets are particularly influential. The OECD is a 38-member bloc, spanning mostly wealthy nations and some emerging economies like Mexico and Estonia. Its member states comprise about half of the world’s population and 80% of global GDP.

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