AI could be tipping point to get US to four-day workweek, Nobel Prize-winning economist says

Sir Christopher Pissarides argues ChatGPT can have a positive impact on workplaces as Americans fear being replaced by technology

One world-renowned economist is optimistic that artificial intelligence could enable employees to work less hours while earning the same income as ChatGPT breaks records as the fastest-growing user base.

During an appearance on "Varney & Co." Friday, Nobel Prize-winning economist Sir Christopher Pissarides broke down why AI could have a positive impact despite a new report warning OpenAI’s wildly popular chatbot is expected to replace 4.8 million U.S. jobs.


"There would be more productivity. We would not need to work on those same things as long hours as before. And therefore we will be able to have the same income with fewer hours of work," Pissarides explained to host Stuart Varney.

Chat GPT from OpenAI

Photo illustration showing ChatGPT and OpenAI research laboratory logo and inscription at a mobile phone smartphone screen. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"Pace is driven by productivity. Productivity will increase because these machines are working faster and better than human beings at the tasks they are doing, many tasks that they are not doing. But the tasks that they are doing, they will be able to produce the same product, therefore get the same money in a much shorter period of time than what we are doing now. And therefore we'd be able to take that extra time off if you want."

The potential of AI to automate aspects of many jobs has made Americans uneasy about the future job market, but a recent report by Goldman Sachs supported Pissarides' claim, finding AI will serve as a complementary tool for human workers rather than putting them out of work.

"Pace is driven by productivity. Productivity will increase because these machines are working faster and better than human beings at the tasks they are doing."

- Nobel Prize-winning economist Sir Christopher Pissarides

While about two-thirds of U.S. jobs are exposed to some degree of AI-informed automation, the average number of tasks in the daily workload for a given job ranged between a quarter to one-half, leaving a significant amount of work for humans, the study found.


A six-month pilot program for a four-day workweek in the U.S. and Ireland recently found nine out of 10 participating companies said they will not go back to working five days.

Researchers say the results reveal benefits to workers’ health and productivity, including lower burnout rates, stress levels, staff resignations and sick days. 


Despite the high percentage of participating companies that want to continue this new format, Pissarides said it is not a one-size-fits-all model.

"There will be jobs being created in that direction. We need to be concerned about schooling. What's happening? Are our kids going to go to school for only four days? But it's feasible," Pissarides said.

office workers in common space

Offices, coworking spaces on the river island of Nantes (north-western France), Zero Newton building Offices for coworkers, coworking spaces: young woman working on a laptop with a smartphone close to her. (Photo by: Andia/Universal Images Group via (Photo by: Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Getty Images)

OpenAI’s ChatGPT was launched in November of last year, and broke records as the fastest-growing user base with 100 million monthly active users in January. OpenAI released its latest iteration, GPT-4, just last month. The bot is able to simulate human-like conversations with users based on prompts it is given. 

While the growth in power among AI systems has been lauded by some tech leaders as having the ability to better the world, thousands of tech experts and leaders, including Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, have signed an open letter warning that AI labs should pause research on any program more powerful than GPT-4. 

The letter says the labs should use such a pause to hash out "and implement a set of shared safety protocols for advanced AI design and development that are rigorously audited and overseen by independent outside experts."


FOX Business' Sumner Park, Lydia Hu and Emma Colton contributed to this report.