There have been massive advancements in Artificial Intelligence recently, and naturally people are asking what it means for them. More and more headlines claim that robots are “taking our jobs” – and, of course, the incredibly fast rise of generative AI tools like ChatGPT have amplified this conversation.
ChatGPT recently became the fastest-growing consumer application in history – outpacing Instagram and even TikTok – and raising a host of interesting questions about the possibilities and risks opening up to the whole world.
The future of work
The combination of innovation (that is, what is now possible) and accessibility (more and more people can use AI, free or cheaply, and quite easily) means that the game really has changed: in this new era, AI can and will do far more than ever before. As a result, workers across pretty much every industry are feeling anxious about their job security.
Last year, the annual global workforce survey from PwC found that almost a third of respondents were worried about the prospect of their role being replaced by technology in three years. Pew Research found that 37% of Americans were “more concerned than excited” about the prospect of AI.
And these fears are not totally unfounded. Goldman Sachs reported in March 2023 that AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs. The World Economic Forum recently proclaimed that a quarter of jobs will be impacted over the next five years, predicting a “new era of turbulence,” as many workers won’t have the skills needed to keep up.
But AI doesn’t need to instill fear. As with all transformative technologies, change is inevitable. Just like we saw with the industrial revolution, a lot of jobs will change. But, if you are willing to embrace change, AI could actually make work work better for everyone. As WEF noted: “The time is ripe for business leaders and policy-makers to decisively shape these transformations and ensure that future investments translate into better jobs and opportunities for all.”
Augmenting rather than replacing
Jobs that are highly repetitive, or follow very specific instructions or rules, are (and have been for some time) the easiest for a robot to perform. Conversely, jobs involving a bunch of different, ever-changing tasks (and require adaptability) are harder for technology to replace. Roles with a strong human element — such as a therapist — are pretty unlikely to be ‘taken over’ by technology.
But this language of replacing (or removing) entire jobs is perhaps over the top. What we are seeing so far is that AI isn’t so much removing jobs, as it is changing them. While some more manual components may be removed, creative aspects remain.
AI is creating jobs that are more interesting, more fulfilling, and more full of joy. Many commentators believe that developments in AI mean new jobs, better jobs, and a productivity boom. According to Goldman Sachs, AI developments could eventually increase the total annual value of goods and services produced globally by 7%.
Embrace the revolution
Similar disruptions have happened before: for example, the spread of computers, or more advanced machinery in factories. The Industrial Revolution saw ‘technology’ completely transform the way farming was carried out.
These changed the way people work and what type of work they do — and they did make some jobs redundant — but today, we tend to be grateful for those important, labor-saving developments.
History shows that, if jobs are lost to new technology, other roles are created in their place. In the Goldman Sachs report, it was noted that 60% of workers are in occupations that did not exist in 1940. We are already seeing new jobs being created, such as AI prompt writers. And these are attracting and being filled by the very creatives who were most fearful that AI would wipe them out.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter if AI is “smarter” than people. The tools are here, they are useful, and they’re already being widely used. What we need to focus on – and businesses can play a key role here – is how we can improve ourselves by using them.
As soon as employees treat AI as a resource and not a threat, they’ll make themselves more valuable to potential employers (and hopefully reduce their anxiety levels).
It’s time to focus on learning
Most of us have been reskilling and upskilling over the past decade: we have seen that the usefulness of certain skills is changing faster than ever, with or without AI. The need to develop ourselves is accelerating. So is the opportunity to focus on the work and skills we most enjoy and value; the opportunity to drive creativity and focus on human connection. (Things that technology cannot replace, but can enable.)
Dell Technologies predicts that 85% of the jobs in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. This is why it is more important than ever that businesses shift to a skills-based approach, and to put in place the processes to ensure your teams can learn new skills as they are needed – such as the ability to command new technology like AI.
It will be the combination of humans and machines that makes us all stronger. Unlocking the wider benefits of AI (on society) means removing tedium (research shows that as many as 90% of employees today are engaged in recurring and often boring tasks), and freeing up time. AI can make us more creative and more efficient – and have a huge positive impact on society.
As you add to your skillset, on an ongoing basis, so the work you can contribute to changes. It is possible to envisage a world without job titles. A “job” might have felt like a fixed thing in the past; tomorrow, it is more likely to change and expand over time, and involve continuous learning.
Managing the risks
We cannot avoid the wave of emerging AI and technology, so what we have to consider is how we embrace what these new experiences have to offer, while being mindful of the risks.
At Beamery, we were testing TalentGPT for almost 5 years before we announced it. ChatGPT uses Large Language Models trained on billions of data points from across the whole internet, which can essentially understand and replicate human conversations.
With TalentGPT, our goal was not to create a model of human language, but to help people discover career paths and to enable companies to hire for potential. So we built our ‘fine tuned’ Large Language Model to understand jobs and companies – more specifically, to ensure that the insights generated by AI could be as useful as possible, and easily explained.
Our AI helps identify people’s skills and uses this data to guide people to opportunities, and to help talent teams make better decisions.
It is more important than ever to be careful, and compliant, and to focus on equitable outcomes, particularly when it comes to people’s data and the careers and opportunities they have. All recommendations powered by TalentGPT have been independently audited, and shown to not generate bias.
We at Beamery believe strongly in the potential of humans. And we also believe strongly that AI, used wisely, is the key to unlocking that human potential. Learn more about our thoughts and recent developments in this area: watch the keynote speech from our recent Spark Live event.