May 28, 2024

More businesses are making use of artificial intelligence — and it has potential to drive innovation and improve productivity growth, a new report says.

The outlook on the global economy is starting “to brighten,” according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Economic Outlook report for May — and part of it has to do with AI’s potential to improve productivity growth.

In addition to its “potential for reviving trend productivity growth,” AI can also drive innovation, the OECD’s report said. However, the organization noted that AI’s estimated impact on productivity is still “subject to considerable uncertainty.”

Meanwhile, the share of businesses starting to use AI “has risen rapidly,” the report said, citing one survey that suggested around one-third of U.S. and European Union firms used AI in 2023.

“Most of these are large companies,” the OECD report said. “There is evidence suggesting that the positive growth impact of AI could be sizeable for individual firms, but there is as yet no clear evidence of economy-wide effects.”

Artificial intelligence’s impact on the economy will depend on factors such as how widely it is used among businesses, and the extent to which the technology will be used to enhance work versus replace work, the report said. According to OECD data, AI has the strongest potential performance effect for people in coding, while it has the least effect on workers in customer service.

In April 2023, a first-of-its-kind study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that generative AI tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, could boost productivity in the workplace, especially for newer workers. Using data from over 5,000 customer support agents, the NBER found that an AI assistant improved the day-to-day work for the agents, including by boosting productivity and improving interactions between agents and customers.

Overall, the OECD projected the global GDP to grow 3.2% in 2025, and for inflation among countries in the OECD to increase 3.4%. The organization also projected the unemployment rate in OECD countries to be 5.0% in 2025.

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