The release of ChatGPT by OpenAI in late 2022, with billions of dollars in funding from Microsoft, is said to have led to a surge in productivity among some white-collar workers. A Nobel Prize-winning labor economist has proposed that this development might open up the possibility for a four-day workweek, reported Bloomberg.
Professor Christopher Pissarides of the London School of Economics, an expert in the impact of automation on employment, has suggested artificial intelligence tools are leading to productivity gains that might allow people to work shorter hours.
Pissarides said AI tools make a shorter workweek more feasible:
"I'm very optimistic that we could increase productivity.
"We could increase our well-being generally from work and we could take off more leisure. We could move to a four-day week easily," he said in an interview at a conference in Glasgow.
AI tools allow workers to complete tedious tasks, such as emails, proposals, reports, coding, or designs, that would typically take minutes, if not hours, to finish in mere seconds.
"They could take away lots of boring things that we do at work … and then leave only the interesting stuff to human beings," Pissarides said.
There's a lot of uncertainty about AI's effects on the workforce, and only some workers will benefit from AI tools. Pissarides is concerned the productivity AI boom could lead to millions of lost jobs.
Calls for implementing a four-day workweek are gaining momentum. A notable six-month pilot test of the four-day, 32-hour workweek, which began in February 2022 of 33 companies employing about 1,000 people in the US, Ireland, and Australia, found revenues were unchanged and, in some cases, increased.
What's apparent is that integration of AI tools in the workforce will increase productivity, but this will only lead to mass layoffs as businesses incorporate more automation. Cue the calls for universal basic income...