Investment Institute

The macro impact of Generative AI: Learning from previous tech revolutions

  • 25 September 2023 (10 min read)

Key points:

  • The emergence of generative AI has accelerated opinion on how quickly it will impact the global economy. AI promises a material productivity boost and looks likely to mark the next great wave of technological revolution
  • There have been five previous technological revolutions since the 18th century’s Industrial Revolution. Each has followed a similar pattern and broadly lasted 50 years
  • AI might be implemented over a shorter timescale, but previous waves were slowed, not by technical feasibility, but the pace of change in broader societies and institutions, something that looks similarly challenging today
  • The economic impact of such a new technology should boost productivity, growth and lower inflation. However, history teaches us to beware of considering such developments in isolation. The threat of job losses and the role of government and regulation will have a bearing on eventual economic outcomes
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