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How Generative AI Shields Against the Silent Demographic Winter

Written by Dave Richards
July 25, 2023

Amid the bustling sounds of urban life in Jakarta, a different rhythm emerges: the march of demographic decline. Globally, we’re on a precipitous path, shaped not by natural calamity, but by a subtler force – population decline. Replacement-level fertility rates are slipping beyond reach, particularly in countries of the Global South, including Indonesia. Yet, an unlikely hero is rising – Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI), charged with alleviating this silent threat to productivity and independence.

Firstly, let’s unmask the more apparent implications of population decline. Diminishing youth populations pose significant risks to social security systems, straining the delicate balance between working-age populations and dependents. The ability to sustainably finance public pensions could be severely jeopardised, heralding a crisis in the public purse.

Secondly, population decline can precipitate an economic slowdown. Fewer people mean fewer workers, consumers, and taxpayers. This threatens to strain economic activity, from dampening domestic demand to retarding innovation.

Finally, the societal fabric risks fraying. Schools close, hospitals consolidate, and communities lose their vibrancy. Infrastructure built for more populous times stands as eerie reminders of demographic shifts, leading to social isolation and reduced civic engagement.

Two less apparent impacts deepen these fissures. The first, population decline can exacerbate social inequality. Shrinking populations often cause a surge in asset prices, amplifying wealth inequality. The second, a skewed demographic pyramid can result in cultural stagnation. With fewer younger people contributing new ideas and attitudes, societal progress could dwindle.

Enter GenAI, the innovative offspring of a digital renaissance. This technology can potentially become a productivity powerhouse, offsetting the need for new workers. Firstly, GenAI can assume routine, time-consuming tasks, enabling human capital to focus on creative, higher-value pursuits. An Indonesian IT firm, for instance, uses GenAI to automate code generation, thereby increasing software development speed and efficiency.

Secondly, GenAI can augment human capabilities by providing decision-making support. Take healthcare in Indonesia, where AI systems have been aiding in diagnosing diseases, significantly improving diagnostic accuracy and freeing up physician time. Lastly, by facilitating remote work environments, GenAI ensures continuity of operations irrespective of demographics.

On the personal lifestyle front, GenAI can foster a sense of self-reliance. Firstly, it enables customised learning at one’s own pace. For instance, language-learning apps with GenAI can help Indonesians acquire new skills, becoming more competitive in the global market.

Secondly, GenAI assists in personal finance management, making it accessible and understandable. AI-based financial advisors can help individuals optimise their savings, investments and retirement plans. Lastly, it aids in maintaining mental wellness. GenAI-powered mental health apps offer tools for mindfulness and therapeutic assistance, thus promoting healthier lifestyles.

The potential of GenAI to assist aging populations is also vast. From telemedicine applications for remote health monitoring to AI-enabled personal assistants that help with daily tasks, elderly individuals can retain their independence and lead enriched lives.

However, the widespread and beneficial adoption of GenAI necessitates swift and decisive governmental action. Firstly, policies should encourage the development and use of GenAI technologies that are inclusive, accessible, and affordable. Secondly, governments must invest in digital infrastructure to ensure equitable access. Lastly, updating educational curriculums to incorporate digital literacy is paramount to empower people to harness GAI.

In a twist of digital Darwinism, it seems survival of the tech-savviest is the new norm. To avoid the ‘byte’ of demographic decline,. As they say, if you can’t ‘beat’ them, ‘join’ them. A pun? It seems that in our digital era, not even population decline can escape being ‘coded’ into oblivion.


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