Can AI Be as Transformative as the Steam Engine and the Internet?

AI and the Future of Productivity: Tim Ferris Style

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the power to revolutionize economies and industries worldwide. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Capital Economics revealed that nearly 80% of respondents believed that AI would transform the global economy. But how exactly will this transformation occur? And what will be the impact on productivity? Will AI replace human jobs, or will it drive employment growth? In this article, we’ll explore these questions and more.

AI: A Modern Revolution

AI can be considered a general-purpose technology (GPT) that has the potential to deliver significant economic effects, much like the internal combustion engine, steam engine, electricity, and ICT revolution did in the past. These GPTs have historically brought major changes to economies by boosting productivity. While it has taken decades for GPTs to deliver tangible productivity gains, adoption lags have shortened over time.

The US and UK experienced annual productivity growth of 0.2-0.3% from the advent of steam and electricity, but the gains materialized over a long period. However, in recent years, improvements in productivity have become compressed, and adoption lags have decreased. For example, the US witnessed an annual productivity growth of 1.5 percentage points between 1995 and 2005. This shift indicates that the potential benefits of AI could be realized sooner than expected.

Positive Effects on Labor Markets

While technological advancements initially create friction in labor markets, the emergence of previous GPT revolutions has had a net positive effect on employment. Jobs tend to transition to new, higher-paying positions and GPTs usually increase the demand for goods and services or create entirely new economic sectors. As a result, AI is likely to drive employment growth, increase real wages, and create new AI-related job opportunities.

According to a study by MIT, approximately 60% of workers in the US are currently employed in occupations that did not exist in 1940. This statistic suggests that technology-driven innovations have fueled more than 85% of employment growth in the last 80 years. While AI could potentially automate around 300 million full-time jobs, most jobs are more likely to be complemented by AI rather than substituted.

Boosting Global Productivity

AI applications have the potential to transform workforce productivity worldwide in several ways.

1. Efficiency Savings: AI can replace humans by carrying out tasks more efficiently or by helping humans become more productive. This utilization of AI can lead to reduced resource usage, allowing companies to do more with fewer resources. For instance, the adoption of shared driverless vehicles could free up land previously used for parking, resulting in increased productivity in other areas.

2. Increasing Output: AI can enhance output per hour worked by increasing the amount of capital per worker, raising the quality of the workforce, and improving the efficiency of labor and capital combination. By utilizing AI software and predictive maintenance, businesses can optimize capital usage and improve work practices.

3. Technological Progress: AI has the potential to accelerate innovation by filtering vast amounts of research and suggesting the most promising projects. This could lead to breakthroughs in various fields, such as drug discovery, education, and transportation. By facilitating technological progress, AI can create a sustainable increase in productivity growth.

Quantifying the Impact

While AI offers significant potential benefits, these gains are likely to be realized gradually, similar to previous technological revolutions. Capital Economics analysts suggest that the impact of past technological advances is the best guide to estimating the impact of AI in the coming years. Looking at the ICT revolution, which saw productivity gains of 1.5% per annum in the US, it is reasonable to expect similar results for countries at the forefront of AI development.

Goldman Sachs research indicates that AI tools could potentially increase productivity growth by 1.5 percentage points over a decade and contribute to a 7% (or nearly $7 trillion) increase in global GDP. Furthermore, AI could drive even greater productivity growth of up to 3 percentage points, accompanied by a 1-point labor displacement. Such advancements could bring an end to the productivity malaise witnessed in developed economies over the past two decades.

Barriers to Productivity Growth

While the potential impact of AI is promising, there are several barriers that need to be overcome. Companies must identify the best ways to utilize AI technology, secure funding for implementation, and overcome any institutional inertia. Additionally, there is a need for skilled workers to implement and fully leverage AI capabilities. Just as the full potential of the internet required the development of cloud computing and large databases, new technologies need to be developed to unlock the full potential of AI.

To effectively deploy AI, companies must go beyond merely installing software. They need accompanying capabilities such as databases, data management systems, and IT specialists. Furthermore, significant organizational and process changes are necessary to fully integrate AI into existing workflows and operations.

Editor Notes

In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, the potential of AI to boost global productivity and drive economic growth cannot be underestimated. While there may be concerns about job displacement, history has shown that previous GPT revolutions have ultimately created more opportunities and higher-paying jobs. The key will be to navigate the barriers to AI adoption and fully capitalize on its potential.

To stay informed about the latest advancements and industry news, visit GPT News Room at

Opinion Piece: AI and the Future of Work

As AI continues to gain traction across industries, there is a mix of excitement and apprehension about its impact on jobs and productivity. While there may be valid concerns about job displacement and potential disruption, it is essential to recognize that AI has the power to revolutionize economies and create new opportunities.

History has repeatedly shown that technological advancements ultimately lead to more employment and higher wages. AI has the potential to drive productivity growth, increase output, and foster innovation. By working alongside AI systems, humans can become more efficient and focus on higher-value tasks, leading to overall productivity gains.

However, this does not mean that we should be complacent. Companies must adapt to the changing technological landscape, invest in AI capabilities, and provide opportunities for upskilling and reskilling workers. Governments and policymakers also play a critical role in ensuring a smooth transition by supporting AI adoption, promoting education and training initiatives, and addressing any potential social and economic challenges that may arise.

Ultimately, the potential benefits of AI far outweigh the challenges. Embracing AI and its transformative capabilities will pave the way for a more productive, innovative, and prosperous future.

Editor Notes:

For the latest news and updates on AI and technology, visit GPT News Room at

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