This blog was 100% written by a human, not a robot. There is still a need for content writers — at least to some extent, for now.
What about your job? Have you contemplated whether it’s possible for artificial intelligence (AI) to infiltrate even the intangible essence of your livelihood? Could all of the knowledge, skills, and experience you might have spent years acquiring be rendered obsolete by robotic technology? Can you imagine AI improving your work performance, providing greater job satisfaction, or inspiring a career change?
Preoccupation with such questions is becoming no less intense with the surge in online media posts about jobs that will be replaced by AI. These are the ones we’ll try to answer here:
- What is AI?
- Why worry about jobs being replaced by AI?
- Which jobs are most likely to be replaced by AI?
- Is there a bright side to AI replacing jobs?
What is AI?
Notwithstanding the current hype surrounding AI’s globally disruptive impact across all industries, the concept of machines mimicking human intelligence is nothing new. AI definitions have evolved over the years, along with enabling technologies and applications. But that self-explanatory pair of words — artificial intelligence — means basically the same thing as it did back in 1956 when AI was formally established as an academic discipline: a machine’s ability to perform traditionally human tasks.
Since then, AI breakthroughs have revolutionized our lives to an extent once fathomed only in science fiction fantasies. Machine learning has been a powerful AI game-changer in recent years. This computer science branch focuses on data-driven simulations of human learning from experience. Computer systems “train themselves” for making decisions and predictions by parsing massive amounts of data and identifying patterns. Rather than being programmed with definitive instructions on how to complete a task, AI systems learn by example how to do the task themselves. A common way to accomplish this is using neural network software, modeled after the biological neural systems that enable humans to process information.
Yet, the transition from radical to the mainstream has often been gradual and subtle, which changes sneaking up on us when we’re going about our same-old, same-old daily activities. Amazon and Netflix recommendations now routinely influence our buying and entertainment choices and voice-activated digital assistants like Siri and Alexa are conveniences we take for granted. From facial recognition phone unlocking to robot vacuum cleaners, the wow factor phase of new AI applications can fade quickly from novel to normal.
Chatbots are wildly welcomed
But there’s no sign of waning enthusiasm for the chatbot craze, as tech aficionados keep weighing in on the cool things that these AI language processing tools can do well, and might do better with some tweaking.
The currently most prominent AI chatbot, introduced in November 2022, is ChatGPT, the brainchild of the research lab Open AI. This advanced application of generative pre-trained transformer (GPT) technology — sometimes called generative AI — is capable of understanding and responding naturally to text inputs. Much of the sustained buzz surrounding its user-friendly appeal relates to versatility. ChatGPT can answer questions in a flash, translate languages, ace college-level exams, land job interviews, write code, and assist with all manner of writing tasks. The GPT-4 update can read and respond to images.
Why fear job replacement by AI?
The mind-boggling efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and error-proofing benefits outweigh any arguments that automation isn’t awesome. It’s downright miraculous that one relentlessly energetic machine can outperform dozens of human workers with 100% precision.
On the flip side, this anxiety-inducing question plagues us: is AI vying for my job?
When it comes to AI-replacing-jobs statistics, plethora is an understatement. The small sampling below was compiled from two consumer-oriented online tech information sources.
- An estimated 4 million industrial robots were employed in 2022.
- Automation will displace 85 million jobs globally by 2025.
- The number of U.S. jobs lost to automation by 2030 is pegged at 73 million.
- By the mid-2030s, up to 30% of jobs could be automatable
- About 36 million Americans could lose their jobs to automation.
- By 2025, AI could replace 52% of jobs globally.
- By 2030, AI could take over some 800 million jobs worldwide.
- One in four American jobs is highly susceptible to automation.
- 45% of all work activities can be automated completely.
- At least 30% of the specific tasks within 60% of all jobs could be automated..
- By 2030, tasks performed by AI and humans will be split almost equally.
Economic forecasts like these ones paint the same picture:
Jobs replaced by AI: typical predictions
Now, the question being asked these days: what are the jobs that AI will replace? A Google search will inundate you with scores of informative, newly posted articles. Predictions are fairly consistent, and in most instances, AI is either already implemented to some extent or the technology exists for testing.
Regarding Google’s testing of competitive chatbots in early 2023, CNBC reported that ChatGPT could hypothetically get hired as an entry-level coder if interviewed by Google hiring managers, an internal document noted.
Reflecting on discussions with experts and additional research, the following Business Insider list of jobs most vulnerable to AI replacement was published on April 9, 2023.
- TECH JOBS
Coders, computer programmers, software engineers, and data analysts
Due to their efficiency and accuracy in performing these functions, ChatGPT and similar AI tools could help offset the high demand for coding and computer programming skills.
- MEDIA JOBS
Advertising, content creation, technical writing, journalism
Out-of-the-gate experimentation with AI-generated content has already shown that tools like ChatGPT are well-suited for analyzing and interpreting vast amounts of language-based data and information.
- LEGAL INDUSTRY JOBS
Paralegals, legal assistants
Significant AI exposure had already occurred in the relatively small legal sector before the latest chatbots were introduced. What these roles have in common with media jobs is the need to consume and synthesize large amounts of information, and make it digestible through a legal brief or opinion.
- MARKET RESEARCH ANALYSTS
AI’s capabilities for data analysis and predicting outcomes are ideal for market research analysis. It’s an efficient and effective tool for identifying trends as a basis for marketing campaign design and ad placement.
ChatGPT’s potential for teaching classes could find some teachers concerned about job security as well as students using it as a homework cheating tool.
- FINANCIAL ANALYSTS AND PERSONAL FINANCIAL ADVISORS
AI’s analytical and trend-predicting strengths make numerical data manipulation a snap for personal finance tasks. Efficiently identifying market trends and comparing investment performance can help a financial company forecast better portfolio mixes.
From trading to investment banking, AI’s disruptive impact on certain Wall Street jobs could be significant. Some of the tasks that knowledge workers perform, especially in entry-level roles, can be automated with a shift in focus to higher-value tasks.
- GRAPHIC DESIGNERS
AI tools like DALL-E can help visual artists produce high-quality work in a fraction of the time spent traditionally. Unfortunately, these professionals could take a serious income hit from their new competitors — millions with less training and experience who can now easily create and manipulate images using AI.
Perhaps surprising to those who regard accounting as a relatively stable career choice, technology does pose a risk for some professionals in that field and others in “intellectual labor roles.”
- CUSTOMER SERVICE AGENTS
For the masses accustomed to robots answering their telephone or online inquiries, it seems like no big leap for AI to meet the growing demand. About 25% of companies are expected to employ chatbots as the main customer service channel by 2027.
AI in restaurants?
The global restaurant consultants at Aaron Allen & Associates offer this food for thought on adopting robotic technology.
- The number of U.S. restaurant workers declined to 1.7 million workers in 2022 — down 300,000 from 2019.
- According to the National Restaurant Association, 80% of restaurants are understaffed
- Estimated restaurant turnover rates are about 75% — costing the U.S. food service industry $95 billion, annually.
- Up to 82% of restaurant positions could, to some extent, be replaced with robots.
- Wakefield Research survey data indicated that 90% of restaurants are considering kitchen automation technology.
- The cost of implementing robotics is the top challenge to restaurant automation.
- By some estimates, the cost of robots (across industries) has declined by 50% over the last three decades.
TechJury’s condensed list of automatable jobs overlapped with others consulted. Those not highlighted elsewhere in this blog chapter include:
- Bank clerks and tellers
- Pharmacy technicians
What the bot had to say about jobs replaced by AI
It seemed opportune to address what content writers like me, admittedly, are nervous about. How could I not muster up the courage to brave my own initiation into AI? So I timidly turned to ChatGPT for some research assistance for this blog, armed with a few questions. Each chatbot reply — notably concise, well-organized, and superficially informative — took about half a second to appear.
My first ChatGPT question: What jobs are being replaced by AI?
The response is copied verbatim here to illustrate the style and substance quality:
AI has the potential to automate and replace various jobs across different industries. While the specific impact may vary, here are some examples of jobs that are being affected by AI:
- Manufacturing and assembly line workers: With advancements in robotics and automation, AI-powered machines can perform repetitive tasks with precision, reducing the need for manual labor in manufacturing and assembly line processes.
- Drivers and delivery personnel: Self-driving vehicles and drones have the potential to replace certain roles in transportation and delivery, such as truck drivers, taxi drivers, and delivery personnel.
- Warehouse workers: AI-powered robots and automated systems can handle tasks such as picking, sorting, and packing in warehouses, potentially reducing the number of manual laborers required for these operations.
- Receptionists and front desk personnel: AI-powered virtual assistants and chatbots can handle tasks like appointment scheduling, answering basic inquiries, and providing information, reducing the need for human receptionists and front desk personnel.
Medical diagnosticians: AI systems are being developed to assist with medical diagnosis by analyzing patient data, images, and symptoms. While not replacing doctors entirely, they can support healthcare professionals in making more accurate diagnoses.
It's worth noting that while AI has the potential to automate certain aspects of these jobs, it may also create new job opportunities and lead to the transformation of existing roles as new skills are required to work alongside AI systems.
I couldn’t resist asking Chat GPT about the impact of AI on content writing and journalism — specifically regarding authenticity and ethics.
The chatbot obliged, affirming the usefulness of generative AI writing tools to assist with generating content, fact-checking, and data analysis. Yet, human oversight and editorial judgment remain vital in maintaining the quality, authenticity, and ethical standards of journalism content.
Plagiarism is a valid concern, Chat GPT added. For transparency’s sake, AI-generated content should be disclosed as such and never passed off as a human author’s work. AI tools should be programmed to respect copyright laws and attribute third-party references.
Ethical considerations include potential journalist job losses, and the need to preserve editorial independence, quality, and trust.
Looking ahead: AI and humans, working together
Fears about the growing number of current jobs being threatened as AI continues to advance are neither groundless nor impossible to alleviate. It’s a double-edged sword.
Widely cited Goldman Sachs research suggests that significant AI-induced labor market disruptions could affect some 300 million full-time jobs globally. This is offset by significant labor cost savings and new job creation, plus productivity boosts to eventually increase global GDP by 7%.
These are some highlights of the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report.
- About 23% of jobs are expected to change by 2027, with 69 million new jobs created and 83 million eliminated.
- Advancing technology adoption and increasing digitization will have an overall net positive job creation outcome.
- AI and machine learning specialists are among the fastest-growing jobs, sharing an average employment growth rate of 30% by 2027.
- Training workers to utilize AI and big data is a five-year priority for 42% of surveyed companies, behind analytical thinking (48%) and creative thinking (43%) in importance.
As conveyed in a December 2022 Harvard Business Review post, AI presents opportunities for job creation and different kinds of organizations. “The question isn’t whether AI will be good enough to take on more cognitive tasks but rather how we’ll adapt,” the three co-authors (admittedly assisted by ChatGPT!) affirm.
Hardship and economic pain may be inevitable for some whose jobs are directly impacted and have difficulty adapting, they concede. “However, the genie is not going back into the bottle. The forward march of technology will continue, and we must harness the new capabilities to benefit society.”
Humans remain irreplaceable
Few AI job scenarios devoid of human intelligence and ingenuity are being foreshadowed at this time. Responding to my questions about job loss, ChatGPT noted that its examples merely illustrate how AI is being integrated into various industries and job functions to automate specific tasks, streamline processes, and increase efficiency. “However,” the bot maintained, “it's important to note that AI is still evolving, and there are limitations to its capabilities in fully replacing human expertise and creativity.”
Regarding the question, “as AI advances will humans disappear?” Forbes contributor Charles Simon suggests that concern is misguided, as well as premature.
“Not surprisingly, the prospect of machines capable of actually thinking in the same way as humans do has created the hope that people will finally be freed from routine jobs to do more meaningful work and the abject fear that robots will completely replace us humans.”
Simon contends that our thinking about AI's impact on the workplace will undoubtedly change.
“Rather than focusing on which jobs might next be replaced by AI, we will be thinking about what characteristics make us different from AI and, therefore, irreplaceable,” he says. “Workers will focus increasingly on retraining and upskilling programs that will enable them to handle new technologies.”
Ironically, Simons adds, a recent Oracle study found that 93% of HR leaders and employees in the U.S. would be open to AI-delivered training.
Are there positives to the AI future?
Bill Gates regards ChatGPT as the most important technological advance since the graphical user interface in 1980. Looking mainly through his philanthropic lens in a March 2023 blog post, he envisions ways that AI could help reduce global inequalities relating to healthcare, education, and climate change, while also boosting business productivity.
Experts emphasize that reskilling and upskilling are crucial to prepare for the impending labor market shifts caused by AI. While AI won’t necessarily replace all jobs, it will certainly change the way many jobs are performed.
- The concept of AI has been recognized for nearly 70 years, while definitions have changed over time alongside new technologies and applications.
- It’s hard to tell whether the abundance of predictions about AI replacing human jobs is more effectively easing fears or ramping them up.
- While there’s no denying the dramatic impact of AI on workforces, job loss uncertainties should not overshadow the potential benefits.
- Shifting the focus from human replacement to job transformation, by prioritizing reskilling and upskilling, will help us embrace the productivity enhancements and cost savings that AI offers.