Using Italian data combining information on advancements of AI at the occupational level with measures of the required proximity in the job-place and administrative employer-employee data on job flows, a new GLO Discussion Paper finds that AI and proximity exhibit an inverse U-shape relationship at the sectoral level, with high advancements in AI that are negatively associated with proximity.
The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that functions as an international network and virtual platform to stimulate global research, debate and collaboration.
GLO Discussion Paper No. 765, 2021
Labour and technology at the time of Covid-19. Can artificial intelligence mitigate the need for proximity? – Download PDF
by Carbonero, Francesco & Scicchitano, Sergio
GLO Fellow Sergio Scicchitano
Author Abstract: Social distancing has become worldwide the key public policy to be implemented during the COVID-19 epidemic and reducing the degree of proximity among workers turned out to be an important dimension. An emerging literature looks at the role of automation in supporting the work of humans but the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to influence the need for physical proximity on the workplace has been left largely unexplored. By using a unique and innovative dataset that combines data on advancements of AI at the occupational level with information on the required proximity in the job-place and administrative employer-employee data on job flows, our results show that AI and proximity stand in an inverse U-shape relationship at the sectoral level, with high advancements in AI that are negatively associated with proximity. We detect this pattern among sectors that were closed due to the lockdown measures as well as among sectors that remained open. We argue that, apart from the expected gains in productivity and competitiveness, preserving jobs and economic activities in a situation of high contagion may be the additional benefits of a policy favouring digitization.
Featured image: Photo-by-Alex-Knight-on-Unsplash
More from the GLO Coronavirus Cluster
GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS, EconPapers). Complete list of all GLO DPs – downloadable for free.