Many workers are concerned that AI (artificial intelligence) will take their employment. Can we overcome our fear and find a silver lining?
Claire spent six years as a public relations manager at a prominent consulting firm in London. The 34-year-old enjoys her job and receives good pay, but she’s been concerned about her career’s future in the last six months. The explanation for this is artificial intelligence.
As headlines concerning machines snatching human jobs have grown in recent years – and as generative AI technologies like ChatGPT have fast become more available – several workers have expressed concern about their futures and whether their talents will be relevant to the labor market in the coming years.
Goldman Sachs produced research in March estimating that artificial intelligence may replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time employment. According to PwC’s annual global workforce survey last year, nearly a third of respondents were concerned about their role being replaced by technology in three years.
Career counselors and HR specialists now stress that, while some anxiety is understandable, employees should focus on what they can manage. For example, instead of worrying about losing their employment to machines, people can invest in learning how to collaborate with technology. According to the experts, if they consider it a resource rather than a danger, they will make themselves more desirable to potential employers – and feel less stressed.
Artificial intelligence and the terror of the unknown
For some, generative AI technologies have appeared out of nowhere. For example, OpenAI’s ChatGPT appeared practically overnight, and the “AI arms race” intensifies daily, generating ongoing uncertainty for workers.
Carolyn Montrose, a career coach and lecturer at New York’s Columbia University, acknowledges that the rate of technology innovation and change might be frightening. “It is natural to be concerned about the influence of artificial intelligence because its evolution is fluid, and there are many unknown application elements,” she says.
But, as unsettling as the new technology is, she believes workers do not have to experience existential dread. Instead, humans have the ability to choose how much they worry: they can “choose to feel nervous about AI, or empowered to learn about it and use it to their benefit.”
Montrose believes it is here to stay regardless of how people react to AI technology. And staying positive and looking forward might be far more beneficial.
Humans have a one-of-a-kind worth.
Although experts agree that some nervousness is understandable, it may not be time to panic just yet. According to recent research, fears of robots taking over human occupations may be exaggerated.
According to a November 2022 study conducted by sociology professor Eric Dahlin at Brigham Young University in Utah, US, robots are not replacing human employees at the rate most people believe, and some people also misperceive the rate at which automation technologies are taking over. According to his research, approximately 14% of workers have had their employment replaced by a robot. However, workers who had experienced job displacement due to technology and those who had not tended to exaggerate the rate and magnitude of the trend – their estimations needed to be revised.
Stefanie Coleman, a principal at EY’s people advisory services unit, adds that we should not expect the future workforce to be “binary.” In other words, a hybrid of people and robots will always be required.
Will Machine Learning Replace Human Labor?
It is critical to remember that artificial intelligence will only partially replace people in the workplace. Instead, artificial intelligence is a tool that can help people become better at what they already do.
Artificial intelligence can digest massive volumes of data and execute tasks that would take people much longer to complete.
AI may help businesses make sense of massive amounts of data, such as financial records or consumer feedback, which can be difficult for large organizations to manage. Conversely, humans are better suited for tasks that need intuition and creativity, which AI lacks.
Furthermore, many jobs require interpersonal communication, which AI cannot replicate. For example, professions like healthcare, education, and social work require sensitive, compassionate individuals with interpersonal skills that AI cannot mimic. The human element is critical in many sectors and cannot be replaced by AI.
Artificial Intelligence and Human Intervention
AI limitations are also a factor. For example, AI systems can only learn and grow if they have access to vast amounts of data. Furthermore, AI is incapable of making judgments on its own; it requires human input to understand what to do with the knowledge it has gathered.
As a tool, artificial intelligence still requires human interaction in the form of programming, maintenance, and updates.
Because of the high cost of AI, not all businesses can afford to adopt it. Startups and smaller businesses may need more cash to invest in developing AI systems, requiring them to rely on human labor.
Although artificial intelligence has the potential to automate a wide range of industries, it will also provide new career opportunities. As AI becomes more common, a greater demand will be for trained personnel to build, manage, and run AI systems.
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As AI grows more prevalent, this demand will rise. Furthermore, AI will give rise to previously unforeseen industries and opportunities, resulting in new job openings.