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Global Future Councils tackles job protection in the era of AI

  • NEWS
  • 17 October 2023

Governments can do more to upskill people and protect jobs in the age of artificial intelligence (AI), said experts at the Global Future Councils forum in a session titled ‘From Abogamers to Prompt Engineers: Navigating a New World of Work’.

The session gathered experts from the Universidad de San Andrés, Office of the Prime Minister of Serbia, Business News International Labour Organization (ILO) and The Inter-American Development Bank.

Micaela Mantegna, a TED Fellow at Universidad de San Andrés, emphasized the importance of addressing current AI risks.

"Some of the debates around AI are focused on existential risks, but the current risks need to be addressed. We need to focus on the now; there is a lot of automation, for example, in supermarket pay machines that are a replacement of labour, and that is something that we need to address,” she said.

Mantegna also pointed out the lack of maturity in AI systems, as seen in facial recognition technology, and discussed the changing face of employment, highlighting the rise of influencers and professional video gamers.

Marta Arsovska Tomovska, the Director for Digitalization at the Office of the Prime Minister of Serbia, expressed concerns over the speed at which AI technologies are advancing.

"The idea before was that AI would replace simple tasks, but now we see generative AI is replacing some of the creative jobs. We have to think about what jobs will stay and what jobs will be replaced in the near future, and we need to decide what jobs we want to keep in the near future and governments can do many things in skilling workers,” she said.

Tomovska emphasized the need to focus on jobs that combine multiple skills, like problem-solving and empathy, which AI can't yet replace.

Lee Sangheon from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) delved into the challenges of skilling and reskilling in the AI era.

"We have to remember to advocate in the investment in skills and people; the irony is actual investment in skills and training has been declining in many countries, and we have to make sure that individuals are provided with skills support over their lifetime," Sangheon said.

Eric Parrado, the Chief Economist and General Manager at the Inter-American Development Bank, discussed the vast skills gap in the global labor market.

"Labor markets are evolving quickly, but the skills gap is huge; we talk about stranded assets but not stranded people who have to change location and retrain. In certain patches around the world, there is an educational crisis, apart from the geopolitical crisis, and governments, the private sector and businesses need something short-term," Parrado said.

He urged for flexibility in education and emphasized that developing countries might be more resilient to AI disruptions than their OECD counterparts.