Can Generative AI do 10% of Human Tasks?

And will it double IT spend to 10% of the World GDP?

Hjalmar Gislason
2 min readJan 25, 2024

The Economist hosted a pretty amazing conversation with Sam Altman of Open AI and Satya Nadella of Microsoft in Davos last week.

I’m deeply convinced that while there are a bunch of open questions regarding the current wave of generative AI technologies, the one thing we can say for certain is that it will bring a productivity increase like we’ve hardly ever seen before. The scale of this potential was verbalized well in two quotes from the conversation:

  • Sam: “What percent of human tasks can GPT-4 do? […] Let’s say it’s 10%. That’s probably an overestimate, but I’m just using it for comparison. Then there’s this real question of: “Can GPT-5 do 12% of human tasks? Or 15%? Or 20%?”
  • Satya: “Let’s round up the World GDP to be 100 trillion USD. Today, IT spend is 5%. Let’s just say it doubles [driven largely by AI] in the next 5 to 10 years. It’s 10%. Then the real story is: “What happens to the growth rate of that 100 trillion”. That’s the only way anybody makes any money, which is if there’s real economic growth. […] This better be general purpose tech that drives economic productivity for the world.”

There’s a lot to unpack here, but to hear reputable people even toy around with these kind of numbers is unparalleled. Even the most optimistic technologists never talked this way about the PC or the smartphone. I don’t think even the Internet, and yet see the changes these innovations brought around.

Economist subscribers can watch the entire conversation, while the below clip shows select highlights:



Hjalmar Gislason

Founder and CEO of GRID (@grid_hq) — the future of numbers. Proud data nerd. Curious about everything. Founder of 5 software companies.