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Could AI Diffusion Affect Global Migration Patterns?


  • People migrate to other countries to better their lives. Better education and employment opportunities abroad are the main draws.
  • How would the rapid spread of artificial intelligence (AI) tools affect international migration patterns?


GS Paper-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

Mains Question

How would the rapid spread of artificial intelligence (AI) tools affect international migration patterns? Analyze (150 words) 

Recent Pattern

  • Migration for education and employment opportunities abroad, except when forced by civil wars and the like, is a win-win situation for both parties.
  • Many developed countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, and Germany, have faced labour shortages in recent years as a result of an ageing population and lower birth rates.
    • Immigrants have filled this void on both ends of the spectrum, allowing high-productivity sectors to thrive while keeping wages in low-productivity service sectors under control.
  • Indian immigrants in the United States are typical of high-skilled settlers, whereas Mexican migrants with less education and skills tend to work in low-productivity sectors. The latter are still better off in America than they would be in their home country. Overall, foreign-born US residents who are not citizens by birth made up approximately 17% of the civilian labour force in 2019, up from approximately 7% in 1980.
    • This does not include the children of previous immigrants, who are citizens of the United States by birth.

The USE of AI in Education

  • The use of AI technology in education has the potential to bring personalised, high-quality education to people’s homes, eliminating the need for many people to travel abroad for education.
    • It is important to note, however, that using AI for learning necessitates a certain level of aptitude, aspiration, and motivation. Many immigrants who come to the United States for education have these characteristics.
    • Furthermore, some people may still need to travel abroad for core theoretical scientific research.
  • In this scenario, the stamp of approval from a highly regarded educational institution would be more valuable than the skills gained through AI-based learning.
    • This is due to the lack of credibility and acceptance of an AI-based learning certification system.
  • As a result, until such a system is developed, AI tools will be incapable of replacing the value of a degree from a prestigious university.

How Will AI Affect the Demand for Migrant Workers?

  • It may result in job displacement in industries such as information technology.
    • For example, as AI develops the expertise to convert text into codes, fix bugs, and suggest improvements and extensions to existing codes, the need for a human coder for basic coding would decline.
    • The same is true for routine maintenance and bug fixes.
  • In contrast, AI is likely to result in less job displacement in industries such as healthcare. Patients would prefer to speak with a human rather than a robot.
    • Demand for IT engineers is expected to fall as AI and related tools become more widely available, but not for nurses and doctors, contrary to popular belief.
  • It will most likely take some time for people to accept the idea of robots performing tasks like hair cutting, babysitting, or cooking.
    • Similarly, in densely populated urban areas, drones may not be able to replace delivery people, and robot waiters are unlikely to replace human servers in most restaurants because people prefer interacting with other humans when they are not working with machines.
    • Despite advancements in autonomous vehicles, truck and bus drivers are unlikely to be replaced in the near future.

What precisely is artificial intelligence (AI)?

  • The simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, particularly computer systems, is known as artificial intelligence.
  • Expert systems, natural language processing, speech recognition, and machine vision are examples of AI applications.
  • AI systems function by ingesting large amounts of labelled training data, analysing the data for correlations and patterns, and then using these patterns to predict future states.

The AI Specialist

  • The advancement of AI technology may result in increased economic growth and job creation in certain industries.
    • A new skill category is emerging: the “prompt specialist,” who can effectively use a variety of AI tools.
    • Because these specialists could work remotely from anywhere in the world, migration could be reduced. The wage premium for remote work, on the other hand, would most likely decrease.
    • As AI technology becomes more widely available and affordable, the skill premium for highly educated individuals may fall.
    • This is true for the vast majority of people, with the exception of those who can effectively deploy AI tools, identify and correct errors, and contextualise the output within specific cultures in order to extract the most value.


  • Because AI technology is still in its early stages of adoption, it is difficult to fully comprehend its impact on international migration patterns for education and employment.
  • However, as the use of AI technology expands rapidly, it may reduce demand for certain high-skill occupations in sectors such as IT, limiting earning potential, while also creating new job opportunities. For the time being, medium and low-skill occupations in service sectors that require face-to-face interactions may be less affected by AI.

December 2023