This year, Microsoft engaged global technology consultancy Access Partnership, working with local partners including the Philippines Analytical Association, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and the Center for Global Communications (GLOCOM) in Japan, to conduct nationwide research on the potential economic impact of generative AI across Asia. The research estimates a potential increase in the production capacity of 621 billion dollars in India, $1.1 trillion in JapanAND $79.3 billion in the Philippines alone, with ongoing studies in Malaysia, Indonesia, and South Korea. These country findings are consistent with other global studies, such as a recent report of McKinsey Estimates generative AI could be worth $4.4 trillion annually to the global economy.
The potential economic growth is so great because generative AI has implications for most types of work: its impact can be considered comparable to that of digitization in general, rather than that of a specific product. In particular, this huge injection of productivity will come from three channels: the potential of generative AI to unleash creativity, accelerate discovery and improve efficiency.
While we cannot predict the future, it is likely that generative AI will act as a « co-pilot » that will increase people’s ability to fulfill their roles, thus driving an evolution of tasks within roles rather than eliminating jobs altogether . For example, Access Partnership research predicts that 45% of workers in India will potentially use generative AI for up to 20% of their normal work activities.
So what exactly are the potential implications for industries, jobs and skills?
Think of it as a digital update on the Renaissance. Given the ability of generative AI to deliver output in a variety of formats – text, images, video, audio, computer code and synthetic data – Asia is likely to see an explosion of new content. “While innovation will continue to need a human spark, generative AI can play a role in supporting the creative process,” said Ahmed Mazhari, president of Microsoft Asia.
By learning from large amounts of input data, generative AI can help create new content or simply reduce the time and cost involved in conceptualization. Technology has the potential to open up new possibilities and use cases in fields such as journalism, academia, creative arts, marketing and product design, from the journalist looking to quickly brainstorm story ideas to the brand brainstorming and to the researcher looking for a rough draft to then refine and customize. Industry uses already abound: Coca-Cola, for example, has announced the use of generative AI to create personalized ad copy at scale, while Deloitte has seen a 20% increase in code development speed.
Generative AI is also capable of boosting the gig economy and solo entrepreneurship. For example, in India, where the number of individual creators is already on the rise, a survey of over 1,600 freelancers found that 47% use AI tools on a regular basis and over 50% reported a positive impact on their productivity . Meanwhile, as the Philippines strives to become Asia’s leading creative economy by 2030, generative AI can play a key role in professionalizing the work of the country’s freelancers.
The second way that generative AI can make a major economic impact is by accelerating the process of scientific and educational discovery. This could include reducing the cost of research – the technology’s capabilities to interrogate large datasets, for example, can help develop and test hypotheses quickly and cheaply. This, in turn, can reduce the time it takes to design new drugs from years to weeks.