More than five percent of jobs in the developed world could be eliminated through automation powered by artificial intelligence—while those in lower-income countries might see less than half a percent of workers impacted. That’s one of the conclusions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which recently released a report titled "Generative AI and Jobs: A global analysis of potential effects on job quantity and quality."

Contrary to widespread fears of cataclysmic economic collapse, the report suggests a more balanced—even optimistic— outcome.

Generative AI, found in chatbot applications like ChatGPT and Claude, has been a focal point of job displacement concerns. The ILO draws a parallel to the past, saying such fears are reminiscent of those triggered during the early 1900s with the moving assembly line, and the 1950s with mainframe computers. However, the report brings a reassuring perspective, saying that "most jobs and industries are only partially exposed to automation and are thus more likely to be complemented rather than substituted by AI."

In addition to job loss, the organization looked at job augmentation—ways in which AI could make workers more productive. Here, more than 13 percent of citizens of high-income nations could benefit, compared to around 10 percent in low-income countries.


But things are not so bright for all of the population. The report does highlight certain professions at higher risk. Specifically, office administration work is identified as the most vulnerable, with the study noting, "The occupation likely to be most affected by GenAI... is clerical work, where about a quarter of tasks are highly exposed to potential automation."

This could have broader implications, especially for women. The report points out, "3.7 per cent of all female employment in the world is in jobs that are potentially automatable with generative AI technology, compared with only 1.4 per cent of male employment." The stark divide stems from women's overrepresentation in clerical and service roles on the frontlines of automation. Without proper policies, disproportionate job loss could erase progress on women's labor participation.

While the ILO report conclusions are measured, many Americans remain wary. A Pew Research survey found that 32% of the U.S. population believe AI will do more harm than good to workers in the coming two decades. The apprehension extends to AI's role in hiring, with 71% of US citizens opposing AI-driven recruitment decisions. Concerns about privacy invasion, especially with AI collecting vast amounts of personal data, are rampant.

Even the CEO of Stability.AI, the company behind the world’s most advanced open-source image generator, Stable Diffusion, said he believed coding as a paid job would be almost nonexistent in the near future because of AI.


The potential economic upside of AI is undeniable, however, with the technology projected to adding over $4 trillion to the global economy. Many experts remain optimistic about AI's future contributions, and the ILO report echoes this sentiment, suggesting that while the nature of jobs might transform, employment opportunities will persist.

Workers, however, are not passive observers. Notable actions like the strike organized by SAG-AFTRA singled out the use of AI in Hollywood, highlight the growing concerns surrounding AI's integration into various industries.

"In the realm of work, generative AI is neither inherently good nor bad,” the ILO concluded. “Its impacts will largely depend on how the technology is managed and regulated."

As we navigate this new technological landscape, the challenge lies not in resisting AI but in instead harnessing its potential responsibly.

The ILO even disclosed that it used AI assistance in researching and drafting parts of the report, but its writers are not at risk—most of the report came from the works of a human mind.

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