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AI won’t steal your job—but it might cut your paycheck, Europe’s central bank says

Halfpoint Images—Getty images

Since the explosive launch of ChatGPT, there has been a prevailing fear among workers that they will be unable to compete against artificial intelligence, leading to mass unemployment. However, a new paper has suggested that such fears may be completely unfounded.

In fact, the European Central Bank’s research predicted that AI will actually create jobs and that any reports suggesting otherwise “may be greatly exaggerated”.

After assessing nine years of data gathered across 16 European countries, the ECB found that low and medium-skill jobs were largely unaffected by booming technology, meanwhile, opportunities for younger and high-skilled workers actually increased rather than vanished.

Between 2011 and 2019, during which there were many technological breakthroughs in language processing, image recognition, and algorithm-based recommendations, the researchers found “no evidence of software replacing routine medium-skill jobs.”

“The relationship between software exposure and employment changes is null for the pooled sample,” the paper noted.

What’s more, high-skilled jobs in fields impacted by AI could grow by up to 4.3%, in Europe, at least.

But while AI may not steal your job, the ECB predicted it may come for your wages. The study concluded that its data "suggests neutral to slightly negative impacts" on worker’s earnings.

Job seekers already know that AI is where the jobs are

For job hunters, the ECB’s findings may not come as a big surprise—they are one step ahead of the central bank and are applying specifically to AI-related roles to future-proof their careers.

Over the last two years, job posts on LinkedIn that mention AI have received 17% higher application growth than job posts that do not because, as Erin Scruggs, vice president of global talent acquisition at the networking platform says, “candidates are savvy.”

“They’re showing they want to go where opportunities are,” she added.

As Reddit’s former CEO, Yishan Wong told Fortune such roles aren’t exclusively for the tech savvy—most workers can side-step into AI fields because it doesn’t actually require “an enormous amount of technical skill,” he insisted.

But leaders can’t agree on whether AI will displace or support workers

Although workers, Wong and the ECB think the future of work is bright thanks to AI, leaders are still unsure.

The investment bank Goldman Sachs has estimated that AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs globally in the coming years.

One CEO, Suumit Shah, the CEO of India-based Duukan, has already started replacing 90% of his workforce with AI, calling the productivity hack a “no brainer”.

Even IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna predicted that while “repetitive, white-collar jobs” will be automated first—but, he disagrees that it means mankind will be out of work.

People mistake productivity with job displacement,” he said at Fortune’s CEO Initiative conference.

As an example, he points to jobs created by the invention of the internet. “In 1995 no one thought there would be five million web designers—there are,” Krishna said.

Meanwhile, Microsft founder and billionaire Bill Gates is optimistically flirting with the idea of a 3 day week, where “machines can make all the food and the stuff, and we don’t have to work as hard”.

Ultimately, once leaders can agree on whether AI will displace or support workers, as the ECB’s paper point out, they will have the biggest impact on job prospects: “The outcome for jobs depends on whether the AI-enabled technologies will substitute or complement labour.”

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