Jobs, AI, Productivity, Remote Work & Government - Everything Everywhere All at Once

By Marcelo Barbosa

In 5 to 10 years, only 20% or 30% of the current workforce in knowledge positions will be needed to perform 100% of the work currently being done. This 5x productivity gain comes from the hypothesis of intense incorporation by organizations of Generative Artificial Intelligence applications in the coming years, which are poised to significantly enhance efficiency, automate a wide array of tasks, minimize operational costs, and notably improve the quality and accessibility of products and services.

The advanced data analysis capabilities provided by Artificial Intelligence (AI) are expected to be instrumental in informing better decision-making processes. AI's ability to facilitate seamless communication between organizations and their target audiences is another factor driving this transformation, leading to the creation of more personalized products and the provision of more responsive services.

The forthcoming sections delve into the nuanced dynamics of how Generative AI, a subset of AI, is poised to recalibrate the efficiency and execution of knowledge-based jobs. This exploration extends to envisioning how the synergy between AI and remote work is set to redefine job execution in knowledge-driven fields, leading to enhanced efficiency and a potential shift towards improved work-life balance.

The discourse broadens to encapsulate the crucial role of governments in navigating the challenges and opportunities that will arise with the widespread adoption of AI.

From addressing the potential spike in unemployment to rethinking educational policies and fostering a multi-layered governance model, the implications are profound and far-reaching.

The subsequent analysis and insights aim to provide a holistic perspective on the transformative journey toward an AI-powered future, emphasizing the need for a proactive, informed, and multi-faceted approach to navigate this complex transition.

Generative AI's Impact on Knowledge Work

Knowledge work entails tasks and activities that require handling or using information in a creative or analytical way, as opposed to routine or manual tasks. Knowledge work often involves problem-solving, decision-making, and the creation or use of information.

Generative AI's transformative potential is especially profound in the realm of knowledge work, as illuminated by a 2023 study from McKinsey titled "The economic potential of generative AI." The study underscores that tasks tethered to information processing and expertise application stand out as notably impacted. For instance, "Processing data," an activity intrinsically linked to knowledge work, exhibits a dramatic surge in automation potential—from 73% without generative AI to a staggering 90.5% with it. Similarly, the automation potential for "Applying expertise" jumps from 24.5% to 58.5% with the integration of generative AI.

This pivot towards knowledge-based tasks extends to occupations as well; roles in "Educator and workforce training" and "Office support" record marked increments in automation capabilities when powered by generative AI. The report effectively frames generative AI not just as a tool for task automation, but as a game-changer for sectors deeply rooted in knowledge and information management.

Generative AI has indeed shifted the narrative surrounding automation. Initially, automation was primarily seen as a tool for eliminating repetitive, manual tasks, freeing individuals for more complex, thoughtful work. However, with the advent of Generative AI, the horizon of automation has expanded into the realm of knowledge work. These sophisticated AI systems are capable of creating content, solving complex problems, and generating insights by analyzing vast amounts of data, tasks traditionally reserved for knowledge workers.

In the current state of technology, it has become easier to automate certain aspects of knowledge work than manual tasks. These kinds of tasks often require a level of physical dexterity and adaptability that current robotics and automation technology struggle to replicate. On the other hand, the digital nature of knowledge work, coupled with advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, allows for quicker automation of such tasks. As Generative AI continues to evolve, it not only challenges the longstanding belief that knowledge work is resistant to automation but also instigates a broader reevaluation of human labour and expertise within the professional arena.

AI and Remote Work Synergy

Tasks that are well-suited for remote work often entail digital interactions, data analysis, and content generation, which align seamlessly with the capabilities of Generative AI. As remote work inherently requires a digital ecosystem, it creates an ideal platform for integrating AI tools. This symbiosis facilitates a more streamlined, efficient workflow wherein routine analytical tasks can be automated, allowing remote workers to focus on higher-value strategic and innovative initiatives.

Moreover, the digital trail created by remote work provides a rich data source for Generative AI to learn from, enhancing its performance and, consequently, its value to the organization. The ability to automate knowledge work in a remote setting not only augments productivity but also propels organizations towards a future where human and artificial intelligence collaboratively drive progress, regardless of geographical boundaries. This alignment of remote work and Generative AI underscores a transformative potential to optimize operational efficiency and foster innovation.

As AI takes on a more significant role, it's pushing workers in these knowledge-intensive jobs to adapt quickly. The tasks that are most affected by AI are those that are routine or data-driven, like data analysis, reporting, or even some aspects of project management. As AI takes over these tasks, workers might find that their roles must evolve, transitioning to more strategic, creative or complex tasks. This new scenario demands swift adaptability and, in many cases, reskilling.

The confluence of AI and remote work also proclaims a more flexible and adaptive work environment. With the geographical constraints lifted and mundane tasks delegated to AI, professionals are now able to collaborate across borders, time zones, and disciplines more fluidly. This new-found flexibility can foster a culture of continuous learning and interchangeability of ideas, which is vital for organizations to stay in alignment with the rapid advancements in AI and other technologies.

Reskilling and Adaptation

The introduction of Generative AI applications in the work environment significantly alters the nature of tasks, especially in knowledge-driven fields. For instance, someone who was primarily engaged in data analysis might now need to transition into roles that require the interpretation of AI-generated insights or even the management of AI systems. This scenario underscores the need for a new set of skills that go beyond traditional job roles.

The journey towards reskilling and adaptation is multifaceted. It begins with an individual's awareness and acceptance of the changing job dynamics brought about by AI advancements. Following this acknowledgment, identifying the new skill sets required and engaging in continuous learning becomes imperative. This might encompass learning how to interact with AI applications, understanding their implications, or gaining insights into how AI can augment human capabilities.

Furthermore, the ability to work alongside AI and leverage its capabilities is emerging as a crucial skill set. This entails not only technical acumen but also a strategic understanding of how it can be utilized to enhance decision-making, automate routine tasks, and foster innovation. It's about harnessing the power of AI to augment human intelligence, drive efficiency, and create new avenues for value addition.

Moreover, organizations play a pivotal role in facilitating this reskilling journey. By providing the necessary training resources, learning platforms, and a conducive environment for continuous learning, they can help ease the transition for their employees.

Additionally, a culture that encourages lifelong learning, experimentation, and adaptation to new technologies is essential. This culture can foster a mindset of continuous improvement and curiosity, which is crucial in a world where technological advancements are rapidly evolving.

Rethinking Automation and Innovation

Instead of viewing AI purely as a means to automate jobs, it's more insightful to consider AI in the context of individual tasks, evaluating how it can either augment or fully automate them. One drawback of this perspective, however, is that it may narrowly focus on replacing existing human tasks, overshadowing the potential for pioneering applications that have yet to be explored.

Innovation isn't just about speeding up processes but reinventing them entirely. Take for example the evolution leap from horses to cars; it wasn't about better carriages but about redefining transportation. Likewise, moving from handwritten letters to emails on the Internet was more than just quickening delivery; it opened new ways of communication. The progression from radio to TV demanded a new way of producing broadcast content. In the same vein, when we think of AI, it's not merely about automating current human tasks—it's about unlocking unimagined possibilities.

The productivity gains will present a unique opportunity to address the challenges of an aging workforce and tackle inefficiency, underserved demands and unresolved problems. It will allow organizations to allocate resources more effectively and focus on priorities.

Addressing Aging and Retirement Workforce

As older employees retire and leave the workforce, organizations may face knowledge gaps, skill shortages, loss of institutional memory, and reduced service and product capacity delivery. AI can help mitigate these challenges in several ways:

  • Automating Routine Tasks: AI can automate routine tasks, reducing the need to hire new employees. This allows organizations to allocate resources more efficiently and focus on strategic or specialized positions, reducing the burden on the remaining workforce, even as the number of experienced workers declines.
  • Knowledge Preservation: Generative AI can be trained and configured to capture, store, and retrieve the valuable knowledge and expertise of retiring employees, ensuring that this institutional memory remains accessible to future generations of workers.
  • Skill Development: Generative AI can mix text, voice, and images to develop customized training programs and educational materials that focus on the specific skills required in the modern workforce. By doing so, they can help bridge the gap between older workers' expertise and the needs of the contemporary job market.
  • Mentoring and Support: Virtual AI agents can act as mentors or coaches for younger employees, providing guidance, answering questions, and sharing insights based on the accumulated wisdom of retiring workers.
  • Workforce Planning: AI can assist in analyzing demographics and demands, predicting future workforce requirements and enabling organizations to make informed decisions about recruitment, training, and resource allocation.

Addressing Inefficiency, Underserved Demands and Unresolved Problems

AI also offers the opportunity to address inefficiencies and issues that have been previously underserved or unresolved due to workforce limitations. By leveraging AI, organizations can improve the quality, quantity, and diversity of their services and products:

  • Improved Service Delivery: AI can help increase service delivery by automating processes and reducing wait times, resulting in increased satisfaction and trust in organizations.
  • Personalization, Inclusivity and Diversity: AI can help better understand the needs and preferences of diverse communities and develop services and products that cater to these unique requirements. Additionally, it can provide personalized services and solutions tailored to the specific needs of individual users. By understanding and adapting to their client's unique circumstances and preferences, organizations can better address underserved demands and ensure that their services and products reach those who need them most.
  • Automation of routine tasks: AI can automate repetitive tasks, freeing up employees to focus on more strategic responsibilities.
  • Increased Efficiency: With fewer employees needed to perform the same tasks, the overall efficiency of processes increases.
  • Reduced Costs: A smaller workforce reduces the costs associated with employee salaries, benefits, and office space. This could free up funds for other research and development products or services, as well as price reductions.
  • Scalability: AI offers the advantage of scalability, allowing organizations to address underserved demands more efficiently. As these technologies can process large volumes of data and handle multiple tasks simultaneously, they can help organizations serve a broader public and meet growing demands without incurring additional costs.
  • Resource optimization: AI can help organizations optimize their resource allocation by identifying areas where improvements can be made and recommending the most effective solutions.
  • Faster and better decision-making: AI systems can process and analyze large volumes of data and information rapidly and accurately, allowing the identification of patterns, trends, and insights to inform better decision-making and resource allocation.
  • Addressing complex issues: AI technologies can help tackle complex, multi-dimensional problems, such as climate change, poverty, and public health, by providing advanced modelling, simulation, and prediction capabilities. This enables organizations to develop and test various scenarios and implement more effective solutions.
  • Cross-functional and disciplinary collaboration: AI can facilitate collaboration across different organizational levels, disciplines and sectors, breaking down silos and fostering knowledge, resources, and expertise exchange. By bringing diverse perspectives and expertise together, organizations can develop more comprehensive and innovative solutions to tackle complex, unresolved problems.
  • Reducing human error: AI systems can help minimize human errors in data entry, analysis, and decision-making, leading to more accurate and reliable outcomes.
  • Eliminating language barriers: AI can enable seamless communication between individuals who speak different languages, facilitating global integration and improving accessibility and inclusivity.
  • Continuous improvement: AI can learn and improve over time, enabling organizations to continually refine their solutions and approaches to unresolved problems and underserved demands. By incorporating user feedback and adapting to changing circumstances, AI can help organizations remain responsive to clients’ evolving needs and challenges.

Challenges and Implications to Be Confronted by Governments

Despite the benefits of adopting AI, it also brings substantial challenges, especially in relation to employability and workforce development. The ripple effects of AI adoption go beyond its applications, as the widespread engagement by individuals and organizations alike is set to redefine the broader societal dynamics. The balancing between leveraging AI's transformative potential and navigating the emerging challenges becomes essential for both policymakers and society at large.

  • Potential UnemploymentThe integration of AI in various sectors could reduce the demand for human labour, leading to job displacement and potentially higher unemployment rates. This necessitates strategic planning to mitigate adverse effects and create new employment opportunities.
  • Workforce Development and TrainingThe rapid evolution of AI necessitates a workforce that is skilled and adaptable to technology-driven roles. Reskilling initiatives are crucial to prepare individuals for new job requirements. This encompasses not only technical training but also fostering creativity and critical thinking, which are skills that AI has a hard time replicating.
  • Education Public Policies OverhaulThe emergence of AI creates a demand for an overhaul in educational policies to better align with the evolving job market. This could include revising curricula to incorporate more emphasis on digital literacy, AI and data, critical thinking, problem-solving skills and continuous learning. Moreover, partnerships between educational institutions, governments, research centers, and companies could be fostered to ensure that education remains relevant and responsive to technological advancements.
  • Implementing AI SafeguardsEstablishing robust regulatory frameworks and guidelines for the development and use of AI is crucial to address ethical, privacy, and discrimination concerns. This will ensure that it is used responsibly and to the benefit of society at large.
  • Universal Basic Income (UBI)Given the potential for increased unemployment due to AI adoption, a Universal Basic Income could serve as a financial safety net. By providing a guaranteed income to all citizens, UBI could alleviate financial insecurity and provide individuals with the resources necessary to pursue new job opportunities or further education and training. This financial stability could also foster a culture of lifelong learning and innovation, which is essential for adapting to an AI-driven society. This is a controversial issue that demands Governments take the leadership and search for agreement and an approachable solution.

Government Governance: A Multi-Layered Approach

As AI is adopted in the public sector, governments will undergo a profound reorganization, resulting in new layers of arrangement. A multi-layered structure will need to emerge to capitalize on the advantages of AI and other cutting-edge technologies, aiming to guarantee proper representation, effective decision-making, and efficient service delivery to citizens. It is possible that the future public sector will be composed of the following layers:

Layer 1: Politicians Representing the Society and Setting Priorities

Politicians will continue to play a critical role in representing societal interests and setting priorities for government initiatives. They will be responsible for understanding the needs and concerns of their constituents, shaping policies, and ensuring that resources are allocated to address these priorities.

Layer 2: Highly Qualified Public Servants Translating Priorities into Requirements

A layer of highly qualified public servants will be responsible for translating the priorities set by politicians into specific requirements for automation and AI customization. These individuals will possess deep and broad knowledge of the government to identify the most effective ways to leverage AI and other technologies to achieve public policy goals. They will work closely with politicians and technologists to ensure the chosen solutions align with the desired outcomes.

Layer 3: Technologists Deploying Tools for Public Policy Implementation

A layer of specialized technicians will be responsible for deploying the tools and systems needed to seamlessly integrate automation and AI customization into public policies and services. These technicians will have expertise in AI, data analysis, and other relevant technology fields. They will work to ensure that the chosen solutions are integrated into dashboards and tools, allowing monitoring and management of government action and priorities. They will also maintain and update these systems to meet changing demands and technological advancements.

Layer 4: Virtual Agents Interacting with Citizens

A layer of AI-powered virtual agents will be responsible for interacting with citizens and providing them with information, assistance, and support in accessing government services. These bots will also be responsible for executing repetitive and operational tasks. They will be equipped with advanced natural language processing capabilities, enabling them to understand and respond to a wide range of inquiries. The virtual agents also will have the autonomy to search for solutions to unstructured problems, rationalizing among them for the best options, and implement them accordingly with pre-defined authorizations.

Layer 5: Specialized Public Servants Monitoring and Reviewing Virtual Agents-Citizen Interactions

A layer of specialized public servants will monitor and review the interactions between virtual agents and citizens. These individuals will ensure that AI systems function as intended and provide citizens with accurate, relevant, and helpful information. They will also be responsible for identifying areas where improvements can be made and working with the other layers of the government to implement these changes.

Layer 6: Public servants and contractors executing activities and tasks that demand physical interaction or contact.

A final layer of public servants and contractors will persist in carrying out activities and tasks that necessitate physical interaction or contact. These individuals will play a vital role in bridging the gap between AI-driven solutions and the need for a human touch in certain service delivery areas, such as healthcare and elderly care services for a rapidly aging population, as well as public infrastructure and maintenance activities.


The expected increase in productivity, driven by Generative AI, signals a major shift in how knowledge-based jobs are carried out and valued. As AI takes on routine tasks, human roles are likely to shift towards more strategic, creative, and complex tasks, calling for a change in educational policies and workforce training.

The merging of AI with the growing trend of remote work is set to redefine job execution in knowledge-driven fields, leading to better efficiency and potentially improved work-life balance. However, this transition comes with challenges, especially the threat of unemployment and job displacement. This necessitates proactive measures like reskilling initiatives and possibly the introduction of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to provide financial support to those affected.

In the government sector, a multi-layered governance model is envisioned to make the most of AI benefits while ensuring effective decision-making and engagement with citizens. This model suggests a balanced mix of AI-driven automation and human oversight, where virtual agents and public agents collaborate to deliver efficient and responsive public services.

AI has the potential to move beyond automating existing tasks and effectively pioneer new applications, improve service delivery, address inefficiencies, and tackle complex societal issues. This is analogous, but more intense and broader, to past technological leaps that redefined various sectors.

AI also has the potential to bridge knowledge gaps as the workforce ages and retires, preserving institutional memory, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability. The emphasis on monitoring and reviewing AI-human interactions represents cautious optimism, recognizing the potential benefits of AI while raising awareness about possible negative externalities.

In conclusion, we are in the beginning of a paradigm shift driven by AI, that will deeply reshape the work, government, and society. It is necessary to take a proactive, informed, and multi-faceted approach to navigate this complex transition, ensuring that the benefits of AI are harnessed responsibly and inclusively while maintaining a forward-looking. The envisioned future is not just about leveraging AI to do things faster or more efficiently, but about directing AI to help unlock new possibilities and augment human capabilities in a balanced, equitable, and beneficial manner.