We have often heard that generative AI will impact many of the jobs that people do today. But they will not all be affected equally.
We increasingly see that some professions will be changed more than others.
Recent research by Indeed's economic research team, Hiring Lab, found that some of the most popular jobs – including nurses, care workers and chefs – are among the 35% of roles that will be least affected.
However, if your job is something that can be done remotely or involves software development, there is a much greater opportunity to use AI to enhance your business. Or, in the worst case scenario, make you redundant.
So, what does this mean for the future of work? On the one hand, those who hold the 20% of jobs most likely to be changed by generative AI are in an advantageous position. The ability to adopt generative AI into their workflow will make them more efficient, productive and valuable.
On the other hand, since many of these roles – which include doctors, lawyers and software engineers – are paid at the higher end of the scale, this could be seen as widening inequality in society.
The job description is generally presented as a selection of necessary skills. This was used as a starting point to begin analyzing the potential impact of generative AI across workforce roles.
The goal was to answer a question that was on everyone's mind but certainly not unique to this latest wave of technological disruption.
“Frankly, it's a very old question about whether technology will help or hurt jobs,” Chris Hymans, CEO of Indeed, told me. “This question goes back to two hundred years ago when the Luddites first broke looms in the UK because they thought those jobs were disappearing.” “
It is easier to evaluate the impact of generative AI on individual skills than on entire jobs. For certain skills, including vehicle driving, construction skills, and veterinary skills, they are fairly useless. For others, like accounting skills, legal tasks, and software development, it's great.
However, when broken down like this, it seems likely that almost every job will be affected in some way, as almost all jobs involve skills to some degree that can be enhanced using generative AI.
Educators, researchers, project managers, healthcare professionals, content creators, and clerical workers also use these skills.
“We believe that AI will transform almost all jobs and how we do them, not necessarily eliminate those jobs, but they will transform,” says Hyams.
In addition to changing existing jobs, new jobs will likely emerge to enable businesses and governments to benefit from the rise of generative AI – hopefully in a safe and ethical way!
Andrew Ng, an artificial intelligence researcher and co-founder of Google Brain, was among the first to offer a balanced assessment of how this might happen.
He believes that changing the way we do current jobs will create many new jobs as well. We are already starting to see this happening, with opportunities emerging for positions such as spot AI engineer or AI auditors.
But it is widely recognized – by Ng and others – that it may also lead to job losses. Again, this will greatly impact roles where many skills can be enhanced or automated. However, it seems likely that there will be a disproportionate impact on lower-paying jobs. This may include customer service advisors, translators, assistants, and back-office clerical staff.
Rather than needing to develop new skills (or change careers entirely), I think this shows that skills evolve.
Remember, when the pocket calculator was invented in the twentieth centuryy In the twentieth century, many believed that this would lead to a decline in our ability to do basic mathematics. What actually happened was that many people – especially school children – became able to solve more complex mathematical problems more quickly.
But in addition to enhancing our technical skills, delegating routine work elements — like scheduling and drafting reports — to machines means we have more time to focus on the human side of our work.
For lawyers and doctors, this means spending more face-to-face time with patients and less time reading charts and reports. Teachers will spend less time assessing papers and more time with individual pupils. Real estate agents will use generative AI to create property listings or sales reports while focusing on understanding the unique needs of buyers.
It is also important to note that employers have a responsibility to assist in this development. It is in the best interest of their employees, who will benefit from personal development. But it's also in the best interest of their business, which will grow thanks to advances in efficiency and innovation driven by the adoption of generative AI.
As with any discussion about the impact of AI, there are ethical considerations that cannot be ignored.
The changing nature of work, the disparity in income between roles that can and cannot, and the fundamental need for people-centred services in many occupations, all need to be addressed.
Chefs, cleaners, and laborers will have fewer opportunities to use generative AI to increase their value, while for financial analysts, lawyers, and software engineers, the opportunities will be great.
This will exacerbate existing inequalities, and can only be addressed through a sustained focus on improving opportunities. This means ensuring the opportunity to move into positions that can benefit regardless of the economic, social, class, racial or gender groupings that have traditionally created barriers.
It is also essential to ensure that aspects of human behavior that are critical to daily well-being are not promoted outside of society. For example, a doctor's ability to relieve anxiety with his or her bedside manner is an important part of the healing process. This may be lost if seemingly routine work items – such as communicating non-urgent updates on how a patient is recovering – are delegated to AI.
What is becoming clear is that the impact of generative AI on jobs will grow, and over the next year or two, we will begin to get a better picture of how it will impact our lives and society as we confront these important challenges.
Right now, from an individual perspective, the most important thing to do is to develop an understanding of how our roles – or the roles we hope to have in the future – can benefit from this enormous transformative opportunity.
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