- The Future Of Jobs In A World Run By AI
The Future Of Jobs In A World Run By AI
Welcome to this week’s Deep-fried Dive with Fry Guy! In these long-form articles, Fry Guy conducts an in-depth analysis of a cutting-edge AI development or developer. Today, Fry Guy dives into one of the most pertinent questions in AI: How is AI impacting jobs? We hope you enjoy!
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There is no doubt AI (artificial intelligence) is changing the economic landscape, but what will the impact be on human jobs?
Big and small companies are both feeling the effects of AI to their workforce. Google has laid off thousands of employees in the past year due to AI and is reportedly set to fire 30,000 more in the coming year. IBM also promised to replace 7,800 employees with AI. Smaller companies are in the mix too, all around the world. An Indian customer service startup fired 90% of their call center employees amidst the implementation of an AI chatbot. Are any jobs safe?
A 2024 Gitnux Market Report showed that in the next two years, job loss due to AI and automation could affect 52% of the global workforce. The impact is observed across a variety of industries, from McDonald’s and Wendy’s replacing fast food workers to a Columbian rum company hiring an AI CEO. No job is entirely safe in a world of unpredictable AI growth and application, but understanding the AI revolution can be a starting point to embracing the future and achieving both individual and team success.
Many companies have spoken out about protecting human workers amidst the rapid development of AI, but with the growing ability of AI to perform necessary tasks, will the profits and efficiency begin to triumph?
This dilemma was displayed in the Writer’s Strike of 2023, where writers and actors threw a fit over AI’s usage in shows and films. 87% of actors make less than $26,000 yearly, and that number is decreasing due to the implementation of AI. This caused the The Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Writers Guild of America to partake in a strike demanding, among other things, labor safeguards against AI.
Directors and producers have been using AI in a variety of ways, including developing machine learning techniques from human writers and then using AI to write scripts, giving no credit or compensation to the human author. Additionally, AI is being used to replicate the acting of individuals, so human actors need only be paid for one day, and then their content and persona can continue to be used without consent or compensation. These practices particularly caused an outrage when Netflix released an offer of up to $900,000 for an AI product manager position and up to $650,000 for its generative AI technical director role. Rob Delaney, who had a lead role in Black Mirror, said, “So $900k/yr per soldier in their godless AI army when that amount of earnings could qualify thirty-five actors and their families for SAG-AFTRA health insurance is just ghoulish … Having been poor and rich in this business, I can assure you there’s enough money to go around; it’s just about priorities.” But where do these priorities lie? Only time will tell.
Although the unionized writers and actors reached an agreement after 148 days, promising to give credit and compensation to the human content creators for using their material, the incident underscored a deeper problem: how long can human workers hold out control of their industries?
At the end of the day, does loyalty to human jobs trump the bottom line? AI has the ability to cut labor costs for most companies by 30-70%. Not only that, but it also has the ability to increase the level of service to customers. In the aforementioned Indian call center, CEO Suumit Shah explained how AI took their call resolution time from over 2 hours to 3 minutes. She remarked, “Tough? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.” Despite companies’ promises to protect the jobs of their human workers, it will become increasingly difficult to resist the allure of massive savings and efficiency in the long run, especially as their competition begins to leverage AI’s ability.
We had to layoff 90% of our support team because of this AI chatbot.
Tough? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.
Time to first response went from 1m 44s to INSTANT!
Resolution time went from 2h 13m to 3m 12s
Customer support costs reduced by ~85%
Here's how's we did it 🧵
— Suumit Shah (@suumitshah)
Jul 10, 2023
CREATING MORE MEANINGFUL WORK
Although AI is making a massive surge into the job market, all hope is not lost. By flipping the coin and changing our perspectives, we can see AI’s impact in a new light. Rather than rendering jobs obsolete, generative AI is expected to unlock human potential by automating routine tasks, allowing workers to focus on more complex and meaningful aspects of their roles. As Michael Chui of the McKinsey Global Institute remarked, “There are a number of things that can happen. One is, we simply do more of something we were already doing. Imagine if you’re a university professor or a teacher, and the grading can be done by machine rather than you. You can take those hours and, instead of grading, you can actually start tutoring your students, spending more time with your students, improving their performance, helping them learn.” Not to mention, the widespread adoption of AI tools may pave the way for a shorter workweek, challenging the traditional notion of a five-day work schedule. Many researchers envision a future where employees, armed with AI assistance, can achieve the same or even greater productivity in less time.
Imagine a world where those mundane, tiresome tasks that often leave us feeling drained and unproductive are effortlessly taken care of. Envision having your very own personal assistant available around the clock, always ready and willing to tackle the work you’d rather avoid or simply can’t find the time for. Ismail Pelaseyed, creator of SuperAgent, told FryAI that he sees this as a massive strength of AI: “Automating small mundane tasks, at volume, could be amazing for humanity.” By allowing AI to take care of unwanted, menial tasks, it can allow us to “create more value elsewhere.”
By leveraging AI for mundane tasks, many developers believe that it will allow us to do even greater and more meaningful work. This is seen in the employment of Replicant, an AI call center helper. The average call center has 7 months of retention for their employees, and that comes at no surprise. As founder Benjamin Gleitzman told FryAI, “It is a difficult job. You are churning through tickets, people are angry and yelling at you, you have to get up to speed on regulations, and most tasks are mundane.”
Replicant found that along with making the calls 35-40% shorter and increasing the customer satisfaction rate, one of their clients reported that the disability days their human agents were taking dropped by 70%. In other words, 70% less people were sick on the job (or at least called in sick), when the Replicant thinking machine began to serve on the frontlines of the customer service calls, filtering out some of the most frustrating and mundane tasks for human workers. Was the mundane work making people sick, or did they just want any excuse not to come to work? Either way, by implementing AI, the company working with Replicant found happier and more meaningful work for their employees by implementing AI into their workflows. Gleitzman tells of his own experience working at a call center: “I loved when I got those interesting calls that required research and creativity as a human rather than my 17th password reset of the day.” This is just one of many examples about how AI can bring more meaningful work into people’s lives.
With great helpers will also come great responsibility. Along with AI’s help in doing jobs, it will also raise the bar for performance. Josh Meyer, the co-founder of Coqui, explains this in terms of voice acting: “The bar that you have to achieve to be a voice actor is being raised a lot. You can’t be a sub-par voice actor anymore because you’re getting beat out by AI any day of the week.” As one college professor stated, “What AI can create has become the bar. Students will soon learn that lazy and average isn’t going to cut it anymore. What AI can produce is where you start, and it is up to human creativity to take it further.” In this way, AI will become a valuable tool for those willing to create and innovate, taking their abilities even further than they dreamed of. For those not willing to dive deeper than the surface, however, it could spell out trouble.
A NEW ECONOMIC LANDSCAPE
Undoubtedly, many industries that have had success or failure in the past will be reshaped in the midst of AI, and as a result new industries will also emerge. Even though AI is projected to replace 85 million jobs by 2025, it is also predicted to create 97 million new ones. This shift in the economic landscape will inevitably change the way young people approach education and future plans. For instance, Nobel Prize-winning economist Christopher Pissarides recently delivered a cautionary message to the younger generation, advising against a blind rush into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields amidst the growth of AI. Pissarides contends that the very skills sought after today to propel AI development may render themselves obsolete as the technology evolves. He states that workers in certain IT jobs risk sowing their “own seeds of self-destruction.” Instead, Pissarides emphasizes the enduring importance of “empathetic and creative skills” in a world dominated by AI. He foresees that roles requiring face-to-face interaction, such as those in hospitality and healthcare, will maintain and increase upon their dominance in the job market. Regardless of whether this particular prediction is true, it is undoubtedly the case that we are witnessing a shift in the economic landscape maybe as large as that of the industrial revolution or the emergence of the internet.
So what can be done in a world being overrun by AI? Rather than running away from the technology, it is time we embrace it. We should seek to understand the technology’s trajectory, how it is impacting our field, and how we can leverage its ability to elevate our performance and redefine our purpose in the workplace. If we do that, we might just find AI is not replacing our job, but rather enhancing it.