AI is unlikely to eliminate most employment,ILO says.

by Francis Ogoti
4 minutes read

Generative AI probably will not take over most people’s jobs entirely but will instead automate a portion of their duties, freeing them up to do other tasks, a U.N. study said on Monday.

It warned, however, that clerical work would likely be the hardest hit, potentially hitting female employment harder, given women’s over-representation in this sector, especially in wealthier countries.

An explosion of interest in generative AI and its chatbot applications has sparked fears over job destruction, similar to those that emerged when the moving assembly line was introduced in the early 1900s and after mainframe computers in the 1950s.

However, the study produced by the International Labour Organization concludes that: “Most jobs and industries are only partially exposed to automation and are thus more likely to be complemented rather than substituted by AI.”

This means that “the most important impact of the technology is likely to be of augmenting work”, it adds.

The occupation likely to be most affected by GenAI – capable of generating text, images, sounds, animation, 3D models and other data – is clerical work, where about a quarter of tasks are highly exposed to potential automation, the study says.

But most other professions, like managers and sales workers, are only marginally exposed, it said.

Still, the U.N. agency’s report warned that the impact of generative AI on affected workers could still be “brutal”.

“Therefore, for policymakers, our study should not read as a calming voice, but rather as a call for harnessing policy to address the technological changes that are upon us,” it said

The International Labour Organization’s study, however, comes to the following conclusion: Since most jobs and industries are only partially automated, artificial intelligence is more likely to complement existing technologies than to replace them.

Accordingly, “the most significant impact of technology is probably going to be in augmenting work,” it continues.

Clerical labor is the occupation most likely to be impacted by GenAI, which can generate text, photos, sounds, animation, 3D models, and other data. According to the study, roughly 25% of clerical duties are extremely susceptible to automation.

However, it stated that the majority of other professions, such as managers and salespeople, are just somewhat exposed.

Nonetheless, the United Nations warned in its assessment that the impact of generative AI on vulnerable workers could be “brutal.”

“As a result, for policymakers, our study should be read as a call to harness policy to address the technological changes that are upon us,” it stated.

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