SEOUL - Artificial intelligence (AI) may replace as many as 4 million, or 14% of South Korea's jobs, over the next two decades, a central bank study said, adding to a chorus of warnings on the looming disruption to labor markets around the world.
Higher-income workers with better academic backgrounds face a greater threat as AI could handle their analytic and cognitive work more easily, said a team led by Oh Sam-il at the Bank of Korea (BOK). Chemists, doctors, lawyers, accountants and asset managers are among the most threatened, while people in religious fields, food services, teaching and singing are the least vulnerable, they said Thursday.
South Korea already has one of the world's highest adoption rates for robots, as it tries to reduce the fallout from its aging population. Still, the country ranks among countries with lower AI utilisation.
The BOK study reaffirms growing views that, while AI is a game changer causing a productivity boom, it may also throw white-collar jobs around the world into disarray.
A Goldman Sachs report this year estimated that 300 million jobs are exposed globally to generative AI such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, although the technology may ultimately raise global economic output by 7% over a decade. A McKinsey & Co report has also given similar predictions of disruption for knowledge workers but accelerated productivity worldwide.
The BOK study said AI will boost demand for so-called STEM —- science, technology, engineering and mathematics — education along with softer interpersonal skills such as communications and teamwork. The team based its study on methods employed by Michael Webb, an economist at Stanford University.
- Opinion: Artificial intelligence for dummies
Traffic moves along the Olympic highway in the Yeouido financial district of Seoul, South Korea, on Oct 22, 2023. (Photo: Bloomberg)