OECD warns law and other professions under threat from AI

OECD warns law and other professions under threat from AI

A global “AI revolution” is imminent, threatening jobs in the professional sectors such as law, medicine and finance, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned.

The influential body cites highly skilled occupations as the most susceptible to AI-fuelled automation, representing approximately 27 per cent of jobs across its 38 member nations, which include the UK, US, Germany, Japan, Australia, and Canada.

The OECD pointed out the “clear… potential for [AI-driven jobs] substitution”, stoking fears of wage reduction and unemployment. Nonetheless, it noted that currently, AI is transforming, rather than replacing, jobs.

“Occupations in finance, medicine and legal activities which often require many years of education, and whose core functions rely on accumulated experience to reach decisions, may suddenly find themselves at risk of automation from AI,” the OECD said. It identified workers in law, science, engineering, culture and business as particularly vulnerable to AI-induced automation.

The OECD suggests that advancements in AI, exemplified by tools like ChatGPT, are now so sophisticated that their output is indistinguishable from humans’. “OECD economies may be on the cusp of an AI revolution which could fundamentally change the workplace,” the organisation stated in its 2023 employment outlook, stressing an “urgent need to act” on AI.

The Paris-based organisation demanded “urgent action” to ensure the responsible and trustworthy deployment of AI in workplaces. It indicated that the UK, Sweden, Luxembourg, and the US had the lowest proportions of employment at high risk, while Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany and Italy ranked higher.

The report also highlighted risks associated with AI’s increasing influence over workplaces, including potential AI biases in hiring decisions. The danger of discriminatory AI-based decisions is “greater for some socio-demographic groups who are often disadvantaged in the labour market already”. This comes amid growing evidence of gender and racial bias in AI-facilitated recruitment processes, marking AI-driven prejudice as a key safety concern.

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