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Generative AI expected to significantly disrupt white-collar workers

This recent report by a consulting firm suggests that knowledge workers can expect more generative AI in their day-to-day operations soon.

An open office layout with several people all on the same table typing at a computer, with generative AI assisting their workflow.

An analysis conducted by McKinsey, a consulting firm, suggests that white-collar “knowledge workers” are being set up to experience significant disruptions in their careers in the near future, driven by the emergence of generative AI tools like ChatGPT. According to the firm’s findings, the rise of generative AI is expected to have a profound impact on the global economy.

Despite the potential challenges, McKinsey consultants view the growth of generative AI as a mainly positive development, with the possibility of boosting the global economy by up to $4.4 trillion and contributing to annual labor productivity growth of around 0.6% until the year 2040. This indicates that while the technology might bring transformations to certain job sectors, it also holds substantial potential for economic growth and increased productivity on a global scale.

The report highlights that generative AI will lead to substantial disruptions in jobs held by “higher-wage knowledge workers,” which were once thought to be less susceptible to automation. The technology is expected to automate a significant portion of tasks performed by these workers.

For instance, the findings reveal that workers with master’s degrees or doctorates could witness automation of as much as 57% of their tasks due to generative AI. This marks a notable increase compared to previous assessments, where only 28% of tasks were anticipated to be automated before widespread adoption of the technology. These results underscore the transformative impact that generative AI is likely to have on higher-skilled professions, presenting both challenges and opportunities for the workforce.

Workers holding bachelor’s degrees could experience a significant increase in the automation of their tasks, with up to 60% of their work becoming automated. This is a notable rise from the previous estimate of 36%. Similarly, workers with a high school diploma or equivalent are projected to encounter an even larger shift in the share of automated tasks, increasing to 64% from the earlier estimation of 51%. 

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These figures outline the escalating impact of automation on various educational backgrounds, indicating that workers at different skill levels will be affected by the increasing adoption of automation technology. Multi-year college degree? Yeah, that may not matter nearly as much if generative AI takes over the workforce.

Along with that, the report states that generative AI brings a range of risks to the table, including potential intellectual property violations on a large scale, the dissemination of misinformation and hate speech, and an increased likelihood of sophisticated cyberattacks.

Macie LaCau is a passionate writer, herbal educator, and dog enthusiast. She spends most of her time overthinking and watering her tiny tomatoes.


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