Will AI steal all our jobs?

Fears of mass unemployment may be ‘overblown’ but workers in media, teaching and finance need to embrace artificial intelligence Predicting the future is never easy, but for writers of fortune cookies it could be particularly hard.

That is according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported that fortune cookie makers are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to make the process of producing succinct yet profound messages easier and faster, putting the long-term livelihoods of their writers at risk.

In addition to fortune cookies, ChatGPT and related AI chatbots have “seemingly infiltrated every industry under the sun”, said Smithsonian Magazine. Such platforms are “now capable of tasks such as planning vacations, writing recipes, composing school assignments and passing the bar exam”.

“As headlines about robots stealing human jobs have proliferated – and as generative AI tools like ChatGPT have quickly become more accessible,” the BBC said, there has been a sharp rise in workers “starting to feel anxious about their futures and whether the skills they have will be relevant to the labour market in years to come”.

‘Slow gradual process’

The big difference now, said the i news site, is that “unlike previous revolutions that only affected jobs at the lower end of the salary scale – such as lamplighters and switchboard operators – the professional classes will be in the crosshairs of the machines this time around”.

In a recent paper looking specifically at the impact of AI on the US jobs market, OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, predicted that artificial intelligence will soon be able to help with around 10{02b21695cf1debca3369e3040109bdbdd8a111a74f93dc642ab397409bd0764c} of tasks for eight out of 10 workers, while 19{02b21695cf1debca3369e3040109bdbdd8a111a74f93dc642ab397409bd0764c} of workers will be able to use AI to complete 50{02b21695cf1debca3369e3040109bdbdd8a111a74f93dc642ab397409bd0764c} of their tasks.

“This sort of spread suggests AI replacing jobs will be a slow, gradual process rather than a sudden change,” said Tech.co.

“The fear that machines will steal jobs is centuries old,” added The Economist. “But so far new technology has created new jobs to replace the ones it has destroyed. Machines tend to be able to perform some tasks, not others, increasing demand for people who can do the jobs machines cannot,” the magazine said.

‘Significant job market disruption’

report published by the World Economic Forum in 2020 predicted that 85 million jobs worldwide will be replaced by AI by the year 2025, while in 2021 consulting firm McKinsey put the figure at a more conservative 45 million by 2030. But arguably, thanks to the “meteoric rise of ChatGPT”, said Tech.co, “these estimations now seem too small”.

A Goldman Sachs study published in March found that generative AI tools “could impact 300 million full-time jobs worldwide”, which could lead to a “significant disruption” in the job market.

“It is true that the jobs that disappear in the face of technological progress have generally been replaced by other jobs, but that doesn’t mean that the process has been painless,” said Paul Krugman in The New York Times. “Individual workers may not find it easy to change jobs, especially if the new jobs are in different places. They may find their skills devalued; in some cases, as with coal, technological change can uproot communities and their way of life.”

So while many workforce experts say fears that AI technologies will cause unemployment to skyrocket are “overblown”, The Guardian reported, “they point to another fear about AI: that it will widen the US’s already huge income and wealth inequality by creating a new wave of billionaire tech barons at the same time that it pushes many workers out of better paid jobs”.

That is why, in this brave new world where “more power and money will be eaten up by the tech giants who own the algorithms that control almost every aspect of our lives”, the i news site said that how we structure society and business will be “even more crucial”.

Culled from theweek.co.uk

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