Will AI take our jobs? Leaders share their thoughts at the World Economic Forum in Davos
The 2024 World Economic Forum is on at Davos and, expectedly, the future of AI was one of the topics for discussion. One key question that tech leaders discussed at the event was whether AI will render people jobless.
OpenAI CEO, Sam Altman, was one of the people in attendance and he doesn’t believe people should be worried about losing their jobs.
“This is much more of a tool than I expected," he told a Davos panel session. "It'll get better, but it's not yet replacing jobs. It is this incredible tool for productivity. This is a tool that magnifies what humans do, lets people do their jobs better, and lets the AI do parts of jobs."
It’s comforting hearing this from the man who ushered in the new era of AI with the launch of ChatGPT, but there’s still a section of people who see AI as a real threat to many businesses.
PwC surveyed 4,702 CEOs and 45% of them believe that the rise of AI means their business models might not survive in over ten years' time.
55% of those surveyed believe they don’t have to change radically to survive the AI era and PwC's Global Chairman Bob Moritz thinks it’s a little naive.
That said, most of those surveyed agree that AI can be an excellent productivity tool and will be leveraging it to increase efficiency in their operations. This section of people said that with the introduction of these AI tools, some jobs may disappear or result in role changes.
"Historically, automation and information technology have tended to affect routine tasks, but one of the things that sets AI apart is its ability to impact high-skilled jobs. As a result, advanced economies face greater risks from AI—but also more opportunities to leverage its benefits—compared with emerging markets and developing economies," the International Monetary Fund (IMF) wrote in a report.
"Roughly half the exposed jobs may benefit from AI integration, enhancing productivity. For the other half, AI applications may execute key tasks currently performed by humans, which could lower labor demand, leading to lower wages and reduced hiring. In the most extreme cases, some of these jobs may disappear.”
However, as CEO of Intel Pat Gelsinger notes, the biggest challenge with AI use will be checking for accuracy.
“How do you prove that a large language model is actually right? There's a lot of errors today,” the CEO questioned, adding that while the AI tool is helping boost the employee's productivity, the employee also needs to vet the completed work for correctness.
Another point of discussion was the pace at which AI is being developed with some worrying that AI developers are pursuing profits at the expense of ethics.
"Powerful tech companies are already pursuing profits with a reckless disregard for human rights, personal privacy, and social impact," the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres said.
The World Economic Forum is an annual event that attracts thousands of attendees, including top academics, businesses, and representatives of governments to discuss pressing global issues.