ACCORDING to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to have a significant influence on approxi- mately 40 per cent of professions in Pakistan.

The IMF chief voiced her concerns over growing inequality owing to unrestrained use of AI, and issued a warning that the wealthy and well-educated segments of society will probably gain more from this technology.

The innovations of AI-based systems in workplaces have raised fears of massive job losses and widening the economic divide.

When the available technology was not so efficient as to perform predictable and repetitive tasks, human labour was valued. Technological advancement has minimised dependence on the human component. Companies do not need employees to perform predictable and repetitive tasks as robots and machines can do these jobs better. This, therefore, is bound to leave people in various sectors jobless.

According to a recent study conducted at the Brookings Institution study, 36 million people work in jobs with high exposure to automation, which means that most of their tasks, ranging from retail sales and market analysis to hospitality and warehouse labour will be done using AI.

AI is expected to automate aruond 60pc of occupations in the developed nations, but just 26pc in low-income countries, like Pakistan. While AI can increase productivity, it may end up replacing the human factor, meaning job losses and wage reductions.

The increasing rate of unemployment in the country has the potential to further pave the path towards a full-blown economic crisis, This surely is not what Pakistanis are hoping for.

Are the policymakers doing anything currently to pre-empt such technology-driven job losses in the future? They might well be doing something, but the fact that nothing is visible to the public eye in this regard is rather worrisome.

Fatimah Anjum
Lahore

Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2024

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