IMF chief warns of AI “tsunami” facing six in 10 jobs

International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dr Kristalina Georgieva has warned of an artificial intelligence (AI)  “tsunami” that could make a significant impact on the international labor market.

The head of the IMF was speaking at an event organized by the Swiss Institute of International Studies when she opined that 6 of every 10 vacancies in advanced economies could be affected.

As originally reported by Reuters, Georgieva’s stern assessment indicated the force could be felt within the next two years, “We have very little time to get people ready for it, businesses ready for it,” she said.

“It could bring a tremendous increase in productivity if we manage it well, but it can also lead to more misinformation and, of course, more inequality in our society.”

Balance and resilience will be key to the upcoming challenge, as workers adapt and upskill to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by AI. In recent years, the massive all-encompassing impact of the pandemic provided a great example of how industry can deal with severe disruption and emerge from the other side.

Incoming threats and opportunities presented by AI

A recent survey conducted by Microsoft revealed around 50% of workers share a concern that AI will impact their job security.

The 2023 Annual Work Trend Index polled 31,000 respondents from 31 countries and despite the lingering fear,  75% of workers now use AI in the workplace, with a feeling that the technology is a great tool at times of stress and high intensity to allow them to concentrate on the imperative tasks.

More than three-quarters of those questioned bring their own AI resources to work.

Meanwhile, Amazon has increased the number of robots working in its fulfillment centers, from 350,000 in 2021 to 750,000 by the middle of 2023.

Scott Dresser, VP of Amazon Robotics commented on how robots are creating opportunities for employees, challenging perceptions of the threat posed to workers by artificial intelligence.

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve rolled out hundreds of thousands of robotics systems while also creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs within our operations. This includes 700 categories of new job types, in skilled roles, which didn’t exist within the company beforehand.”

These examples correlate with the warning from IMF chief Georgieva, showing that the evolution of the workplace can be harnessed, but there are still significant risks posed by AI. Governments and big tech will need to find consensus on regulation if the tsunami is to be weathered.

Image credit: Ideogram

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Graeme Hanna