The AI Awakening and the Coming Productivity Boom

productivity boom

While the world was in lockdown, one could be forgiven to think that productivity slowed, but simmering under all this self-isolation is a productivity boom, the likes of which the world has never seen.

On June 3, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that US labour productivity increased by 5.4% in the first quarter of 2021.

productivity boom

Annual Labor Productivity Growth, 2001 – 2021 Q1 (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

AI is not sleeping.

On June 3, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that US labour productivity increased by 5.4% in the first quarter of 2021..

The trend highlighted in the report is US-based, but its effect ripples across the Atlantic and in all OECD countries. The expectation of the forthcoming productivity surge heralds a new era that will eclipse the boom of the 1990s.

Most OECD countries have just scraped the lowest point in the ‘Productivity J-Curve’, representing an unusual pattern of slow adoption of breakthrough technology followed by a near-vertical surge in the following years, one that digital technologies will lead, and in particular, artificial intelligence.

Why the ‘Productivity J-Curve’ will be quicker and more incredible than ever.

#1 Breakthroughs in AI such as Deep Learning, Image Processing, Natural Language Processing and Robotics, combined with lower prices for data storage and increasing cloud computing power, allows for faster processing power and scalability.

#2 The pandemic has accelerated a decade worth of digitization and innovation into less than a year, showing a sharp increase in the ‘Productivity J-Curve’.

#3 World governments are taking aggressive fiscal and monetary money printing policies in the form of Covid-19 relief schemes to minimize unemployment and incentivize firms to bring in the potential benefits of technology to drive productivity further.

These three ingredients combined make a perfect recipe for a boiling hot economy and an inevitable productivity boom.

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