Jobs that will survive AI, and those that won’t

Saturday September 23 2023

Innovative industry robot working in warehouse together with human worker. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK


The rise of generative artificial intelligence models may spell doom or carry hope for your job in the near future, new research by the World Economic Forum (WEF) reveals.

For some workers, nearly 90 percent of their tasks will be automated by generative AI models, while for others, these innovations will only improve their productivity but not replace their them as employees.

Generative AI systems – which have the ability to create content or data that is authentic, unique and similar to what humans could produce – have lately been on the rise, with market value currently estimated at $45 billion, according to data firm Statista.

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The models have been integrated into various tools to do jobs like generation of text, images, videos, data or computer codes. 
An example is OpenAI’s ChatGPT that can write, edit or interpret text just as good as humans; and Midjourney or Dall E-2 which generate images based on prompts or questions. 

The WEF white paper titled “Jobs of Tomorrow: Large Language Models and Jobs” surveyed over 19,000 tasks across 867 jobs and found that occupations in the financial services sector are at the highest risk of being automated with the rise of these generative AI tools.


For instance, credit authorisers, checkers and clerks will have up to 81 percent of their tasks automated by AI while management analysts, telemarketers, statistical assistants and tellers will have at least 60 percent of their tasks taken up by AI models.

Most exposed

Generally, jobs that involve administrative or clerical activities, database design; data analysis; monitoring of external affairs, trends or events; information sourcing; and documentation of procedures, trends or activities, are the most exposed to automation.

On the other hand, jobs that require critical thinking, complex problem-solving skills and creativity will benefit rather than lose to generative AI models as the rising technology can be used to augment them.

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According to the research, such jobs include insurance underwriters, who will have all their tasks augmented by artificial intelligence, and none replaced. 

Other occupations in this category are engineers, mathematicians, editors, statisticians, graphic designers, interpreters and translators among others, who will have between 60 and 80 percent of their chores improved by the generative AI models.

There are several other jobs on which AI will have little or no impact on, with the potential of both automation and augmentation being close to zero, the study shows.

These are jobs that need a high degree of personal interaction like teachers, counsellors, clergy, paralegals, healthcare workers and manual farm labourers. For these roles, up to 84 percent of tasks have very low potential of being replaced or improved by AI in any way, the research says.

But as growing generative AI use replaces or improves jobs, it will also create new ones, which will be needed to support the emerging technology. Such jobs include AI model and prompt engineers, data curators and trainers, content creators and ethics and governance specialists.

The WEF survey comes just weeks after the International Labour Organisation (ILO) published a report assessing the impact of generative AI on jobs.

Read: Expert says AI could replace 80pc of jobs

ILO’s research found that the new technology will mostly complement rather than replace jobs. Only clerical jobs are significantly exposed to AI automation, with about 24 percent of tasks being highly exposed and 58 percent having a high level of exposure.

Saadia Zahidi, WEF’s managing director, argues that as the impact of generative AI will be different across different sectors, there’s need to leverage the potential of its boon to minimise the impact of displacements it might cause.

“Business leaders, policymakers and employees must collaborate on harnessing the potential of new jobs while managing displacement and ensuring a future of work that empowers and elevates people,” she said in a statement on Monday.