AI to 'free 100,000s of Londoners for four-day week on same pay' your job on the list?

The expanding artificial intelligence market, including chatbots such as ChatGPT, can help boost productivity and economic growth across the UK if developed responsibly, the competition watchdog has said (PA Wire)
The expanding artificial intelligence market, including chatbots such as ChatGPT, can help boost productivity and economic growth across the UK if developed responsibly, the competition watchdog has said (PA Wire)

Artificial intelligence could free hundreds of thousands of Londoners to work a four-day week without losing pay, according to a new report.

It argued that the capital, and its commuter belt, could see the biggest take-up of a four-day week due to AI given the high number of white collar jobs in the city and outlying areas.

The study by the Autonomy campaign group claimed that 18 London local authorities could have at least one third of their labour force eligible for a four-day week, on the same wages, by 2033.

It stressed that these “four-day week boroughs” included the City of London, Kensington and Chelsea, Tower Hamlets, Westminster, Richmond, Islington, Southwark, Richmond, Camden, Wandsworth, Bromley and Kingston.

The others were Barnet, Harrow, Merton, Lambeth, Redbridge and Sutton.

The Square Mile was identified as the only local authority in the UK where a majority of the workforce could have an AI-led four-day week within a decade.

Outside London, local authority areas which could see major AI-driven workforce changes include Elmbridge, which includes Esher and Walton, St Albans and Wokingham.

The report is likely to be seen by some people as painting an optimistic picture of how AI will change the workforce, amid fears that it could lead to some workers being made jobless and mankind struggling to compete against computers leading to rising unemployment.

A key to the localised impact of artificial intelligence including Large Language Models, the technology behind ChatGPT which can generate text and explanations on a vast number of subjects, would be the type of jobs in an area.

Autonomy highlighted research by the International Monetary Fund identifying posts which could be particularly affected by AI.

These jobs included lawyers, financial managers, customer service representatives, office and general clerks, accountants and auditors, investment fund managers, first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers, management analysts, market research analysts and marketing specialists.

Other posts named were sales representatives of services, except advertising, insurance, financial services and travel, bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks, general and operations managers, search marketing strategists, treasurers and controllers, receptionists and information clerks, human resources specialists, as well as primary school teachers, except special education, and secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education.

The report stated that a third of the labour force in London, or 1.5 million by 2033, could have a 20 per cent reduction in work time without a cut in pay, due to AI-led productivity gains of 20 per cent.

It further claimed that 89 per cent of the workforce in London, or four million within a decade, could benefit from at least a 10 per cent reduction in work time without lower wages, due to AI-led productivity improvements.

Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy which focuses on the future of work, economic planning and climate change, said: “Our research offers a fresh perspective in debates around how AI can be utilised for good.

“A shorter working week is the most tangible way of ensuring that AI delivers benefits to workers as well as companies.

“If AI is to be implemented fairly across the economy, it should usher in a new era of four-day working weeks for all.”

The research organisation, which has previously highlighted the benefits of a four-day week, believes that overall AI could mean at least nine million workers in Britain moving to a working week of 32 hours.

Its study, which combined population and workforce data with an artificial intelligence exposure index which measures how various jobs are impacted by generative AI, as well as a productivity forecast, explored two scenarios.

The first that productivity gains of AI deliver a 20 per cent reduction in working hours, whilst keeping pay the same for workers.

The second was how many workers could benefit from AI to the extent that their productivity improves by at least 10 per cent, to cut their working week by ten per cent while keeping the same wages.