Robot working an office job concept

AI could affect around 300 million jobs, study finds

Image credit: Foto 85947247 © Nastassia Bas |

As many as 300 million full-time jobs around the world could be partially or wholly replaced by artificial intelligence (AI) tools, according to Goldman Sachs economists.

Generative artificial intelligence tools (AI) could replace a quarter of work tasks in the US and Europe, according to a report by the investment bank.

However, the researchers have also predicted that new technologies would bring in new jobs and a productivity boom that could eventually increase the total annual value of goods and services produced globally by 7 per cent.

The report describes generative AI's ability to create content indistinguishable from human work - as platforms like ChatGPT can do - as "a major advancement". 

"If generative AI delivers on its promised capabilities, the labour market could face significant disruption," the report said. 

In the United States and Europe, approximately two-thirds of current jobs “are exposed to some degree of AI automation,” the bank estimated. Globally, the researchers predicted that as much as 18 per cent of work could be computerised, with the effects felt more deeply in advanced economies than emerging markets.

In contrast to the "little effect" that AI tools have on manual labour, these tools are expected to transform the work of white-collar workers such as administrators and lawyers. Of those positions affected, as much as 50 per cent of their workload could be replaced, according to the report.

"Although the impact of AI on the labour market is likely to be significant, most jobs and industries are only partially exposed to automation and are thus more likely to be complemented rather than substituted by AI," the report said.

When the researchers extrapolated their estimates for the whole world, they found that generative AI could expose the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs to automation. Some of the jobs with the lowest exposure to AI include those related to cleaning and maintenance, installation and repair, and construction tasks. 

However, the paper points out that, historically, worker displacement from automation is often offset by the creation of new jobs, and the emergence of new occupations following technological innovations, as well as an overall increase in productivity. 

Over the last few months, AI-powered chatbots have seen a significant rise in popularity and opened conversations about the future of work. These free tools can generate text in response to a prompt, including articles, essays, jokes and even poetry.

The most popular chatbot, OpenAI's ChatGPT, was launched to the public at the end of November 2022. Seeing its success, many companies have jumped at the chance of developing their own chatbots or incorporating existing ones into their products. Last month, Microsoft launched a ChatGPT-powered version of its search engine Bing. Shortly after, Google launched a rival chatbot, named Bard. 

“ChatGPT and other advanced AI technologies have already sparked innovation and investment in the field. However, the recent attention this has gained from the international community - outside of tech – will shed a new light on the gloomy path to recovery laid out for this year," said Claire Trachet, CEO of business advisory company Trachet.  

“As these technologies continue to evolve and mature, it's likely that they will drive even more innovation and investment in the future. Companies and investors are recognising the tremendous potential of AI to transform a wide range of industries and are eager to adapt and implement these to capitalise on the opportunity."

However, developers have acknowledged that the tools remain "a work in progress", with OpenAI acknowledging that ChatGPT can be “very unreliable” on texts under 1,000 characters and that AI-written text can also be edited to trick the classifier.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles