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AI threatens millions of South Korean jobs, central bank says

A Bank of Korea study warns that almost four million jobs in South Korea could be replaced by AI in the next two decades, with high-income professionals at greater risk. While AI creates new opportunities, job transitions may pose challenges for workers, especially in concentrated fields.



SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Nearly four million jobs in South Korea are at risk of being replaced by artificial intelligence technology over the next two decades, a central bank study released on Thursday said.

Rapidly advancing artificial intelligence (AI) technology has triggered global concern over everything from job losses and cyber attacks to humans losing control of the systems they have designed.

The new study by the Bank of Korea said some 3.9 million jobs in South Korea were at risk as AI adoption grows domestically, with doctors, lawyers, accountants, and chemists among the most threatened professions.

“High-income workers with high academic backgrounds face bigger exposure to AI and have a greater risk of being replaced,” the study said.

These white-collar jobs were most threatened as AI can easily carry out their analytic and cognitive tasks, it added.

The people least likely to lose their jobs to the advancing technology were those in religious fields, food services and teaching, according to the study.

The Bank of Korea report noted that while AI technology is a threat to existing jobs, it also creates new employment opportunities, including for engineers who develop and maintain AI systems, as well as at AI-related start-ups.

But since the new positions are “concentrated” in one specific field, “some workers may experience difficulties in the job transition process prompted by the introduction of AI”, it added.


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