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Millions could be working a four-day week by 2033 thanks to AI, report claims

Could AI reduce our working hours?

Nearly a third of the UK’s workforce could be working a four-day week by 2033 thanks to the rollout of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology, a new report claims.

One of the biggest concerns around the increasing power and popularity of AI tech over the past couple of years is whether it will take jobs away from humans, as it is proven to be capable of taking on more of the tasks that humans currently perform.

A recent survey from LinkedIn found nearly half of European workers are expecting AI to make a major impact on their working lives within the next year.

Generative text AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard can write whole articles or business plans in seconds, producing a close approximation of what a human can do when fed the right prompts and information.

Image generation tools meanwhile can conjure up photorealistic pictures nearly instantaneously, raising questions about job security for human artists and illustrators.

But the new report from Autonomy, an independent think tank that looks at the future of work and economic planning, sets out a more promising vision of AI’s impact on our working lives.

In its GPT-4 (Day Week) report, the authors suggest 8.8 million workers in the UK - 28 per cent of the workforce - could be working 32-hour, four-day weeks thanks to AI.

A further 27.9 million meanwhile - representing 88 per cent of the country’s workforce - could have working hours reduced by at least 10 per cent too.

AI could usher in new work benefits

Autonomy made its calculations using the 1.5 per cent annual productivity increase from AI that was estimated by Goldman Sachs in a recent study on the topic of AI and GDP, as well as data from the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

The Autonomy report outlines two forecasts for leveraging AI to boost productivity while delivering better conditions for workers, specifically looking at how the ideas could be rolled out in local authorities in the UK.

The two scenarios are a 20 per cent reduction in working hours while keeping the same pay for workers, or one in which worker productivity increases by 10 per cent, enabling a 10 per cent reduction in working hours, while keeping the same pay.

“Our research offers a fresh perspective in debates around how AI can be utilised for good,” said Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy.

“A shorter working week is the most tangible way of ensuring that AI delivers benefits to workers as well as companies. If AI is to be implemented fairly across the economy, it should usher in a new era of four-day working weeks for all”.

Various four-day week trials are either underway or have been recently completed, with the majority of results pointing towards either maintained or improved levels of productivity, with substantial benefits for worker well-being.

Posted on 20 Nov 2023 14:11 link