A recent report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that AI will affect almost two out of every five jobs done by humans around the world. AI of course will impact work that is already somewhat or totally automated.
Growing use of AI will also impact white collar jobs, information tech areas, and even rural life on farms. Still, the same report suggests that AI might worsen inequality. However, that may miss how AI can improve outcomes outside of just wealth.
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First, it’s important to consider where AI’s impact will be most felt. Inequality between the world’s richest nations and its poorest nations may not grow as much as inequality within nations. For example, the IMF’s report projects a 60% impact for artificial intelligence on advanced economies, whereas less developed economies would see much less immediate impact.
Still, one can’t ignore that AI’s productivity increases may benefit some workers but not others if artificial intelligence access becomes too attached to existing income disparities. What that misses out on are the positive externalities of AI around the world.
AI & Positive Externalities
For example, should artificial intelligence improve medical research and pharmaceutical drug development, new, more available treatments could improve health outcomes in poorer nations. Especially as climate change worsens, tropical diseases spread and intensify, a greater pace of research into treatments could prove vital.
“AI will impact everything like electricity impacted everything. Gradually, then all at once, people will have access to best-in-class doctors around the globe, leading to longer, better lives in first- and third-world countries alike,” said Zeno Mercer, senior research analyst at VettaFi.
“Multiply this effect across nearly all processes, products, and services, and you’ll see a massive uplifting of a global middle class that has the resources, in their handheld device, that were way beyond affordability or accessibility before the advent of artificial intelligence,” he added.
Those positive externalities don’t just focus on developing nations. Indeed, artificial intelligence could make it easier to navigate complicated or overburdened bureaucracies in rich nations. Whether legal or governmental bureaucracies, AI could help those without the time or resources get better access to services.
Taken together, AI’s benefits should be remembered when considering how it could destabilize existing economic structures. Like many other major breakthroughs that impacted whole industries in the past, it offers major benefits.
For more news, information, and analysis, visit the Artificial Intelligence Channel.
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