AI threatens wages, not jobs

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The rapid adoption of artificial intelligence could reduce wages, but so far is creating, not destroying jobs, especially for the young and highly-skilled, research published by the European Central Bank showed on Tuesday.

Firms have invested heavily in artificial intelligence, or AI, leaving economists striving to understand the impact on the labour market and driving fears among the wider public for the future of their jobs.

At the same time, employers are struggling to find qualified workers, despite a recession that would normally ease labour market pressures.

In a sample of 16 European countries, the employment share of sectors exposed to AI increased, with low and medium-skill jobs largely unaffected and highly-skilled positions getting the biggest boost, a Research Bulletin published by the ECB said.

But it also cited “neutral to slightly negative impacts” on earnings and said that could increase.

“These results do not amount to an acquittal,” the paper said. “AI-enabled technologies continue to be developed and adopted. Most of their impact on employment and wages – and therefore on growth and equality – has yet to be seen.”

The findings were in contrast to previous “technology waves,” it said, when computerisation decreased “the relative share of employment of medium-skilled workers, resulting in “polarisation”.

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