AI is Coming For Your Job

ai coming for your job

Artificial intelligence and algorithmic systems have long been integral and widely adapted across many industries for a decades. Auto manufacturing, supermarkets, and warehouse logistics organizations have long relied on predictive algorithms and robotic mechanisms equipped with AI-enhanced visual systems.

Robots have replaced huge swats or manufacturing work and more recently cashiers and bank tellers are being replaced with self-checkout systems. These sophisticated technologies drive business decision making as companies look to cut costs and increase profits to gain or maintain a competitive advantage.

With the introduction of ChatGPT and other new AI technology that is getting better each and every day with human driven input, it is no surprise some economist are predicting hundreds of millions of lost jobs with the new AI revolution.

For many this dystopian reality is already here. News article writers, social media content creators and entry level coders are already finding themselves at the vanguard of this change, supplanted by digital constructs such as chatbots, which fabricate seemingly credible alternatives to their craft.

“A dire juncture is upon us,” warns Sarah T. Roberts, a scholar with the University of California in Los Angeles, possessing a specialization in the digitization of labor. “Occupations once considered immune to mechanization are now in the crosshairs of AI.”

The advancement of artificial intelligence has taken gargantuan strides this past year, birthing chatbots capable of effortless conversation, lyrical composition, and software programming. In their fervor to popularize the technology, corporations in Silicon Valley are thrusting these constructs into the hands of a vast user base, often without monetary exchange. Meta, formerly known as Facebook recently pivoted it from its failed Metaverse flop and has decidedly put emphasis on embracing AI, cutting costs and laying off staff in its year of efficiency.

The incorporation of AI and algorithmic decision-making is not a recent phenomenon. For decades, consumer product enterprises, grocery chains, and logistical firms have been harnessing predictive algorithms and robotics with AI-infused optical systems for business decision-making, mundane task automation, and inventory control. Industrial complexes and office spaces have witnessed similar automation transformations in the 20th century.

However, the latest tidal wave of generative AI — powered by intricate algorithms trained on a vast corpus of words and images from the public internet — threatens to instigate a new phase of disruption. This technological leap, possessing the ability to generate convincing human-like prose, leaves high-value knowledge workers vulnerable to replacement, experts warn.

Insiders maintain that AI, despite its advanced capabilities, cannot compete with the distinct, personal voice and style of human writers. AI output often includes errors, nonsense, or biased information. Despite these drawbacks, many companies have weighed the consequences and consider the opportunity for cost reduction worth a decline in content quality.

“With every prior wave of automation, the aim was to mechanize arduous, repetitive tasks,” says Ethan Mollick, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. “This time around, automation is targeting top-tier, creatively demanding jobs that require extensive education.”

Goldman Sachs projected in March that AI could automate 18 percent of all work globally, with professions such as law under greater threat than physical labor roles such as construction or maintenance. “Jobs that require a significant proportion of time outdoors or physical exertion are beyond the reach of AI automation,” the report noted.

The White House has also expressed concern, stating in a report from December that AI’s potential to automate ‘nonroutine’ tasks could expose large segments of the workforce to disruption – especially for white collar office jobs.

Mollick, however, cautions against hasty judgments on the disruptive potential of AI in the labor market. He highlighted professions such as copywriting, translation, and paralegal work as particularly vulnerable due to their task structures aligning well with the capabilities of chatbots. More nuanced work, such as legal analysis or creative writing, might not be as readily replaceable, given human superiority in these domains.

“AI can be likened to a high-end intern,” he suggests. “Jobs that are essentially stepping stones to more advanced roles in a field are at risk.” However, if these stepping stones are taken away by continuous advancements in AI, how will newly minted graduates find a foot in the door?

Eric Fein, who operated a content writing business for a decade, charging $60 an hour for tasks ranging from concise product descriptions to crafting copy for cannabis firms, saw his steady business of ten contracts and a comfortable life for his wife and 2-year-old son evaporate. In March, his major client discontinued his services in favor of ChatGPT. In quick succession, his other contracts met the same fate. His copywriting business crumbled nearly instantaneously.

“It left me in a state of financial ruin,” laments Fein. He pleaded with his clients to reconsider, warning them about the limitations of ChatGPT’s creative output, technical accuracy, and originality. His clients acknowledged these concerns but emphasized the economic advantages of using ChatGPT over paying him an hourly wage.

Consequently, Fein is turning his attention to a vocation resilient to AI disruption. He has enrolled in courses to become an HVAC technician and has plans to train as a plumber the following year.

“A manual trade has better longevity,” he notes.

Businesses replacing human workers with chatbots have encountered high-profile pitfalls. Technology news site CNET, which leveraged AI for article writing, had to issue extensive corrections for error-ridden output. A lawyer relying on ChatGPT for legal documentation found the AI citing numerous non-existent cases. Moreover, the National Eating Disorders Association, which replaced its helpline staff with a chatbot, halted the bot’s use after it dispensed inappropriate and damaging advice.

Roberts warns that chatbots could cause expensive blunders, and that businesses incorporating ChatGPT into their operations prematurely are “jumping the gun”. The AI’s method of predicting the most statistically likely word leads to the production of average content. This leaves companies with a challenging dilemma: quality or cost? More specialized AI however is coming out for niche and industry specific areas. Numerous startups have already received hundreds of millions in funding for the application of artificial intelligence to legal practice include helping lawyers which major law firms are embracing.

Olivia Lipkin, a 25 year old copywriter who found herself replaced by ChatGPT, is reevaluating her professional path altogether. Initially, she took up content marketing as a means of supporting her personal creative writing endeavors. However, she found the role mentally draining and impeding her personal writing. Now, she’s starting a job as a dog walker.

“I’m completely stepping away from the corporate world,” declares Lipkin. “Businesses are seeking the most economical solution, and that’s not a human – it’s a robot.”

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