“Our country has some of the best talent in AI and can play a leading role in the sector if Europe encourages exploratory approaches.”Vincent Luciani, CEO and Co-founder of Artefact
Hands down, the best news this fall is that even in the midst of a dismal economic climate – as reflected at REF 2023 – AI shows more potential than ever for global progress.
The arrival of generative AI before the summer brought its share of naysayers and modern-day Luddites, whose common refrains were the risk to jobs, the loss of intellectual property, and the exponential growth of fake news. Of course, we shouldn’t minimize or take these risks lightly, but let’s not be too quick to be doomsayers. AI is first and foremost an incredible opportunity and a tool that, if used properly, will lead to economic, social and democratic progress.
First, economic progress: the productivity gains for businesses that AI offers are undisputed. This could be the long-awaited key to reviving growth, especially in the service sector, which has historically been a low-productivity area. Recent studies are able to assess the impact of AI on the productivity of specific occupations. For example, according to Microsoft researchers (see Machines of mind: The case for an AI-powered productivity boom, Brookings), software engineers appear to be able to code up to twice as fast using a tool called Codex, which is based on the earlier version of the GPT-3 language model. According to a recent study by Goldman Sachs, this productivity boom will be global and could generate latent GDP growth of 7%!
Second, social. While productivity gains no longer need to be proven, there is still much debate about how they will translate into the economy and, in particular, the labor market. A very encouraging recent study by the ILO suggests that AI is expected to have a positive impact on the labor market. It shows that AI is likely to complement rather than destroy jobs by automating certain tasks instead of replacing roles altogether. This means that 5.5% of all jobs in high-income countries could potentially be exposed to the automation effects of generative AI, compared to just 0.4% of jobs in low-income countries.
While new technologies are eliminating jobs, they are also helping to rationalize them. In fact, the companies that benefit from them are more in demand, so they hire more and also order more from their suppliers, driving the entire value chain of their industry. New jobs are also created in new sectors. Since “Les Trente Glorieuses”, the great post-war growth period in France from 1945 to 1975, the diversity of jobs has greatly increased. At least, that’s the view of American economist David Autor, who argues that 60% of today’s workforce is doing jobs that didn’t exist in 1940.
Finally, democracy. AI is an opportunity to address certain inequalities. According to a Stanford study, AI would primarily benefit people with the least experience and seniority, and would also help address certain educational inequalities (see Will Generative AI Make You More Productive At Work, 2023). A growing number of AI-based technologies are also fighting dropout by adapting and personalizing instruction, such as Lalilo technology, a reading learning platform that adapts to each student’s level and helps teachers individualize reading pedagogy to reduce school dropout rates.
We must be a driving force in the application and industrialization of AI in France. Our country has some of the best talent in AI and can play a leading role in the sector if Europe encourages exploratory approaches. Let’s give massive support to these initiatives, in start-ups, SMEs and large groups, both private and public. The potential applications are enormous. Let’s innovate and test. AI will be what we make it!