Job loss fear confirmed as more AI tools launch

Monday June 05 2023

Visitors look at screens displaying company Tomorrow Net's navigation-type AI communication tool "CAT.AI" in Tokyo, Japan 2023, on May 10, 2023. PHOTO | RICHARD A. BROOKS | AFP


The recent chatter around text-based artificial intelligence language ChatGPT has had many worried about the security of their jobs, even as more AI tools launch by the day.

Multiple surveys now show that these fears might be warranted as artificial intelligence is geared towards disrupting several jobs and is forecast to cause the loss of more jobs than it will create, as adoption increases.

According to March 2023 research commissioned by OpenAI – the American company that built ChatGPT – large language models (LLM) like ChatGPT will interrupt up to half of tasks for 19 percent of workers in the US.

The study also found that for nearly 80 percent of workers, such AI-powered chat bots and tools could affect about a tenth of what they do, and that up to 56 percent of all tasks can be completed faster with AI-supported software.

“The projected effects span all wage levels, with higher-income jobs potentially facing greater exposure to LLM capabilities and LLM-powered software,” reads the research lead-authored by Tyna Eloundou, OpenAI’s researcher.

ChatGPT astonished millions of users globally with its capabilities of writing near-perfect essays, marketing pitches, songs and poems in multiple languages, solve complex mathematical problems, among other things.


Read: Expert says AI could replace 80pc of jobs


However, ChatGPT and its similar chatbots represent only a small fraction of the capability's artificial intelligence and the software it powers, which means that its general impact on the future of work could be much higher.

German data firm Statista estimates that by 2027, 83 million “white-collar” jobs will have been lost to AI tools, as 75 percent of companies globally plan to incorporate the emerging technology in their businesses over the next five years.

At the same time, 69 million new jobs will be created from the increased adoption of AI, but will all involve technological literacy and AI skills, as at least 60 percent of employers expecting the importance of these skills to rise gradually.

Not only are companies already looking for employees with AI and tech skills, but they are also investing heavily in it.

Last year, global private investments in the novel technology hit a record $91.9 billion.

“The rapid advancement of the fourth industrial revolution has sped up the adoption of technologies, fundamentally changing the way humans and machines interact,” said Timothy Owens, Statista’s technology and telecoms team lead at a webinar exploring AI’s impact on the labour market.

“This technological transformation not only impacts our work, but also alters job requirements, skill demands and will cause the displacement of certain occupations.”

Read: AKINYEMI: AI a blessing and curse at your workplace

Decline in demand

According to Statista’s data, AI and machine learning specialist position currently tops the list of the ten fastest growing jobs demanded by employers, thanks to the increasing adoption of artificial intelligence.

At the same time, several other jobs are declining in demand at an unprecedented speed, “due to their repetitive nature of the tasks involved”.

These are mainly clerical roles like bank tellers, postal clerks, cashiers, data entry clerks, among others.

Stacie Haller, chief career advisor at American job advisory firm Resume Builder, argues that not only will the impact of AI on the labour market be immense, but it will also be speedy and sooner than most people anticipate.

“I believe we are ramping up along this road pretty quickly,” she said in a podcast hosted and published by the International Labour Organisation in April.

Read: AI impact on human future of work and life

“Our original survey in February showed that one in four companies already have been replacing some job positions and job skills with this. In a recent survey that we did a few weeks ago, that’s ramped up.

“We are now seeing that nine out of ten companies currently hiring people with this skill set. And organisations see bringing in this skill as making them more competitive, making them more cutting-edge.”