Many economists and consumers are worried about the impact artificial intelligence (A.I.) technology could have on employment moving forward. But for corporations, the A.I. revolution is set to bring in record profits as productivity booms, according to Goldman Sachs.
“Over the next 10 years, A.I. could increase productivity by 1.5% per year. And that could increase S&P 500 profits by 30% or more,” Ben Snider, a senior strategist at the investment bank, told CNBC Thursday.
Snider noted that the clear winners of the recent A.I. tech boom, headlined by the surging popularity of chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, are in the tech sector for now, but “the real question for investors is who are going to be winners down the road.”
“In 1999 or 2000, during the tech bubble, it would be very hard to envision Facebook or Uber changing the way we live our lives,” he said, noting that A.I. technology is set to forever change many industries and also offers opportunity for investors even outside of the tech sector.
In a Wednesday research note, Snider further detailed his increasing optimism for A.I. in the corporate world, calling it the “biggest potential long-term support for profit margins.”
The senior strategist noted that since 1990, S&P 500 profit margins have risen from 5% to 12%, with every major sector in the index experiencing a jump. This margin expansion alone accounted for more than 40% of stocks’ gains over that period, according to Goldman’s data.
Over the next decade, the investment bank’s models indicate that A.I. tech will help lift corporate profit margins by another 4 percentage points as productivity soars. And there’s growing evidence to back up their claim.
MIT economists Shakked Noy and Whitney Zhang found in a March working paper that ChatGPT “substantially raises average productivity” for professional writers, enabling them to complete many tasks in half the normal time. And University of Virginia economics professor Anton Korinek found that large language models can increase economists’ productivity “significantly” in a study of 25 use cases published in a February National Bureau of Economic Research working paper.
However, Snider also noted that “uncertainty around both the eventual economic impact of AI and the regulatory response it may elicit is high.”
In a March report, Goldman’s economists warned that A.I. tech could replace 300 million jobs globally over the next 10 years. But the tech is also likely to create new jobs, cust costs for corporations, and, as previously mentioned, boost productivity, which makes discerning its future impact complicated.
Even OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman admitted in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday that potential impact of the technology is uncertain, as he called for increased regulation.
“My worst fear is that we—the field, the technology, the industry—cause significant harm to the world,” Altman told Congress. “I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong.”