Resisting or Rebooting the Rise of the Robots? (cepStudy)

Figure generated by DALL-E 3 via ChatGPT with own prompt.

Artificial intelligence (AI) will revolutionise the world of work. While earlier technological advances enhanced the skills of employees and thus increased their productivity, so-called generative AI will irreversibly destroy entire job profiles. The Centre for European Policy (cep) has conducted a meta-analysis of empirical studies. According to the study, around 20 million workers in the EU would lose their jobs in the short term - accompanied by social unrest - if precautions are not taken quickly in view of AI’s exponential development.


"For the first time, even well-educated workers will have to fear for their jobs because of technological progress. Around one in ten jobs in the EU will be directly affected by the end of this decade. The spectrum ranges from managers and consultants to lawyers and marketing specialists," says Berlin-based cep digital expert Anselm Küsters, who wrote the study with Roman cep expert Eleonora Poli.

Poli fears social unrest. "Those affected are politically well-connected and have social influence. At the same time, this wave of protests in the EU will encounter an unprepared and nationally fragmented socio-political system," warns the Italian cep researcher. Against this backdrop, old debates about a basic income to secure traditional jobs need to be overcome. Instead, the upcoming EU elections should be used to discuss new concepts for sustaining sufficient consumption, empowering the growing group of data workers and promoting lifelong learning.

In order to prevent labour market distortions and build social resilience, the researchers suggest adapting social security systems. "The productive added value that generative AI will undoubtedly generate should be partially redirected in such a way that it supports the transition process at both the socio-political and individual levels, thus contributing to the rapid adoption of the technology. To this end, we propose a new conceptualisation of the basic income idea," says Küsters. It is a collective risk-sharing measure that is less economically distorting than a robot tax.

According to the cep experts, professions that focus on empathy and personal, physical processes, such as care work, will not be affected.