(Washington) The development of artificial intelligence (AI) may raise “concerns”, but it can also offer a “tremendous opportunity” as the growth of the global economy “has been very weak in recent years”, a declared the Managing Director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, during an interview with AFP.
The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was speaking after the publication by her institution of a report devoted to the impact of AI on employment and the global economy, ahead of the meetings of the World Economic Forum in Davos which begins on Monday in the Swiss Alpine resort.
According to this report, AI will have consequences for 60% of jobs in advanced economies, but above all could lead to an even greater dropout in the most vulnerable countries.
“Globally, 40% of jobs will be affected. And the more skilled you are in a job, the more this will be the case. So for advanced economies, and certain emerging countries, 60% of jobs will be affected,” said Ms. Georgieva, recalling that this impact could also translate into “an increase in your income.”
“It is certain that there will be an impact, but it may be different, whether it leads to the disappearance of your job or on the contrary its improvement. So what do we do with those affected and share the productivity gains, what can we do to be better prepared? “, asked Ms. Georgieva.
The IMF’s fear, however, is above all to see AI reinforce the gap between advanced countries and others, which would not benefit as much from future innovations.
“We need to move quickly, enabling them to take advantage of the opportunities offered by AI. The real question will be to put aside fears about AI and focus on how to get the best benefit for everyone,” she insisted.
Especially since in a context of slowing down the pace of global growth, “we desperately need” elements capable of boosting productivity.
In the meantime, the Director General of the Fund invites States to make efforts on the budgetary level, in a context of rising rates and high debt, necessary to cope with the shocks of recent years, between pandemic, war in Ukraine and sharp rise in prices.
“For some countries, the debt problem becomes dramatic, either because they become insolvent or because they have to spend a large part of their income on debt service,” limiting their ability to invest and finance services essential.
Nevertheless, even though “debt service [the annual cost of repaying borrowed capital and interest] has increased everywhere”, the level reached “remains manageable in many countries, many have had the wisdom to modify the structure of their debt,” explained Ms. Georgieva.
Despite everything, “countries need to rebuild their budgetary cushions”, because they must be “always ready to face the unexpected”.
This requires margin in public finances, which many states no longer have after three years of repeated crises, she insisted.
But even more, a fiscal policy that is too expansionary would cancel out the effects of monetary policy, which is restrictive, in order to bring inflation back to more acceptable levels, which would only lengthen the time necessary to achieve this.
However, Kristalina Georgieva is aware of another reality: in 2024, “nearly 80 countries will have elections and we know what is happening and the pressure that exists to spend during electoral cycles”.
The head of the Fund, whose mandate ends at the end of September, insists that “this year will be difficult”.
“We have to be ready for the uncertainties that will come,” says Kristalina Georgieva.