A close up of artificial intelligence brain with a futuristic graphical user interface in network connection space (Picture: Getty)
A close up of artificial intelligence brain with a futuristic graphical user interface in network connection space (Picture: Getty)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) advancements could see millions of people working a four-day week with the same pay in the next ten years, according to a new report.

Around 28% of the nation’s workforce (8.8m employees) are set to work 32 hours a week full time by 2033, figures published by independent research organisation, Autonomy, has revealed.

Eight local authorities where workers are most likely to move to a four-day week have been identified, all in the south-east.

Five are in the capital, including the City of London, Wandsworth, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Richmond upon Thames.

They are joined by St Albans in Hertfordshire, Wokingham in Berkshire and Elmbridge in Surrey.

‘All of these local authorities hold the potential for 38% or more of their workforces to move to a four-day week using AI augmentation over the next decade,’ the Autonomy report said.  

The research, using data from the International Monetary Fund and Goldman Sachs, pointed to an improvement in worker productivity while maintaining pay and performance, particularly in desk-based jobs.

The introduction of the technology to lower working hours could also reduce widespread mental health illnesses and physical ailments associated with overwork, the report found – creating more time for ‘democracy, leisure consumption and social cohesion’.  

Map shows areas in UK that will move to four-day week by 2023 thanks to AI advancements
A map of the areas most likely to move to four-day week by 2023 (Picture: Getty)

‘In the case of the UK – where work-related stress, anxiety and depression constitute one of the most significant labour market issues today – these wellbeing factors cannot be emphasised enough,’ the report said.  

Up to 88% of workers – almost 28million – across Britain could see their working hours reduced by at least 10% if Large Language Models (LLM) are introduced.

LLMs are a type of AI trained to create whole sentences, paragraphs and even essays.

They were initially developed to predict language but have also been trained to be used in a wide variety of applications, from customer service chatbots to personal assistants and friends to lonely people.

In London, 89% of the workforce could see their hours reduced by at least 10% due to AI-productivity gains.

Will Strange, director of research at Autonomy, said developments in AI could ‘usher in a new era of four-day working weeks for all’.

‘Our research offers a fresh perspective in debates around how AI can be utilised for good.

‘A shorter working week is the most tangible way of ensuring that AI delivers benefits to workers as well as companies.’

But the report comes amid growing fears about the threat to humanity posed by AI.

Elon Musk described AI as an ‘existential risk’ for humans, warning how for the first time ever, we are faced with something ‘that is going to be far more intelligent than us’.

‘It’s not clear to me if we can control such a thing,’ he said, ‘but we can aspire to guide it in a direction that’s beneficial to humanity,’ he told the UK’s AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire earlier this month.

Also addressing the summit, King Charles issued a chilling warning about the ‘significant risks’ of the emerging technology.

In a video address filmed at Buckingham Palace, he said: ‘We are witnessing one of the greatest technological leaps in the history of human endeavour.

‘AI holds the potential to completely transform life as we know it, to help us better treat, and perhaps cure conditions like cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

‘However, if we are to realise the untold benefits of AI, then we must work together on combating its significant risks, too.’

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said mitigating the risk of extinction because of AI should be a global priority alongside pandemics and nuclear war.

In an extreme scenario, humans could ‘lose control of AI completely’, he warned.

However ‘it is not a risk that people need to be losing sleep over right now,’ he said.

Earlier today, he urged world leaders to harness the power of AI and other cutting-edge technology to end malnutrition worldwide.

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