- Since OpenAI released ChatGPT to the public, talk of AI-powered tools has become ubiquitous.
- Research shows that 35 percent of Americans fear AI could make their work redundant as ChatGPT has already replaced some workers.
- While predicting how AI tools will ultimately impact the workforce is challenging, workers can make themselves harder to replace by cultivating soft skills, learning about AI and getting hands-on experience with tools like ChatGPT.
- This article is for professionals concerned about how AI tools may impact their employability and who want to take steps to prepare.
Since ChatGPT’s public release on Nov. 30, 2022, talk of artificial intelligence (AI) transforming business has shifted from science fiction to a looming concern. The release of the AI chatbot has been met with everything from shock to awe as it shifted quickly from a novelty to a legitimate business and productivity tool. However, amid such quick adoption, concerns are rising about how AI-powered tools will affect the workforce in the months and years ahead.
For better or worse, AI-powered tools are here to stay ― along with employee anxiety and questions about how best to prepare for such a rapidly changing world.
Workers fear AI is coming for their jobs
ChatGPT is not the first full-fledged chatbot to use machine learning algorithms to generate human-sounding responses. However, it has surpassed other AI-powered tools in its broad range of knowledge and capabilities. While ChatGPT may be a marvel and legitimate breakthrough, United States workers across industries are understandably afraid of what this technology may mean for their jobs.
Here’s how American professionals and businesses are responding to AI-powered tools like ChatGPT:
- Americans fear AI tools could take their jobs: According to a March 2023 survey from FreelanceWritingJobs.com, 35 percent of Americans worry that AI could make their work positions redundant. This level of concern is somewhat steady across industries and states, with a few outliers.
- Tech sector workers are most worried about AI: Workers in the technology sector were most concerned about losing their jobs in the face of AI advances (64 percent of those surveyed). In comparison, those working in the public sector were the least concerned (19 percent of those surveyed). This disparity could be due to the difference in the speed of technological adoption. The tech industry is already finding ways to implement AI-powered tools, while the public sector is known for taking longer to implement technological changes.
- Workers concede that AI can make work easier: Despite the concern that AI could eliminate some positions, the FrelanceWritingJobs survey also found that 36 percent of respondents admitted AI makes their work easier. This data tracks with a February 2023 survey from Resume Builder that found ChatGPT has helped lighten the load for some workers by handling mundane tasks like writing meeting summaries.
- AI is replacing some jobs: Of the businesses in the Resume Builder survey, 48 percent percent noted that ChatGPT had replaced workers. This number may increase, as Resume Builder found that ChatGPT saved these companies over $50,000. Additionally, Resume Builder found that 63 percent of surveyed business leaders believe ChatGPT either definitely or probably will lead to layoffs. This potential for labor disruption is further compounded by the pace of AI development.
- AI tool usage is likely to increase rapidly: The range of tasks associated with ChatGPT or other AI-powered tools will likely increase dramaticallydramatically in the near term. Resume Builder found that 49 percent of respondents already used ChatGPT even though it had been released only three months before the survey.
Chatbots are one of the most commonly used AI tools. They use AI to automate specific tasks like answering questions and approving expenses.
AI trends to watch
ChatGPT’s rapid adoption demonstrates that AI is a prominent small business tech trend that signals a potential sea change in how individuals work and businesses operate.
While Resume Builder found that 49 percent of businesses adopted ChatGPT within three months of its release to at least some degree, 30 percent of respondents noted they had plans to employ the tool. Of that 30 percent, 85 percent planned to deploy ChatGPT in some capacity within the next six months.
So what can AI tools do now? What does their potential hold in the not-so-distant future?
What AI tools can already do
According to Resume Builder, businesses use ChatGPT for junior-level work, allowing employees to focus on higher-level and more strategic tasks. Here are some examples of how businesses use ChatGPT:
- Help write code (66 percent)
- Generate copy and create content (58 percent)
- Provide customer support (57 percent)
- Create meeting summaries (52 percent)
Additionally, Resume Builder found evidence that AI is changing human resources (HR) departments. For example, HR departments use AI to do the following:
- Write job descriptions (77 percent)
- Draft interview questions (66 percent)
- Respond to applicants (65 percent)
Tech companies are also folding ChatGPT into their products, which will likely increase the pace of AI tool adoption. Here are some examples:
- Microsoft: Microsoft has folded ChatGPT into Microsoft 365 through Copilot, an AI tool embedded in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams. Using much of the functionality present in ChatGPT, Copilot can draft proposals in Word based on provided data, analyze trends, give project breakdowns in Excel and generate PowerPoint slides based on information pulled from a Word file.
- Salesforce: Salesforce has also incorporated ChatGPT into its product line, creating EinsteinEinstein GPT. Salesforce says this is the first generative AI for customer relationship management software. It can help generate personalized emails for salespeople, generate responses to customer queries, create targeted content for marketers and create code for developers. Salesforce has also integrated ChatGPT with Slack to help with conversation summaries and offer writing assistance.
As AI-based tools become more ubiquitous and powerful ― and if businesses prepare for a recession ― more organizations may find themselves willing to use AI tools to cut business expenses.
The future of AI tools
AI-powered tools are a potential game-changer. This pace of development and other potential breakthroughs makes predicting the overall future of AI tools incredibly difficult.
Here’s a glimpse of today’s cutting-edge AI-powered tools:
- GPT-4. OpenAI released ChatGPT in November 2022. The company has since released GPT-4, which surpasses ChatGPT on every measure. GPT-4 was found to have better problem-solving abilities and broader general knowledge. It can also use visual input like photographs. GPT-4 scored in the 90th percentile on the Uniform Bar Exam ― up from the 10th percentile for ChatGPT ― and in the 99th percentile in the Biology Olympiad ― up from the 31st percentile.
- Google Bard. Google’s Bard is intended to help users with research. According to Google, Bard can help users “explain new discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old or learn more about the best strikers in football right now, and then get drills to build your skills.”
- Meta’s LLaMa. Meta’s LLaMA (Large Language Model Meta AI) is designed to help researchers advance their work in AI.
- Meta’s CICERO. AI tools have generally replicated lower-level human skills, like summarizations or product automation. But another AI tool from Meta, called CICERO, achieved human-like performance in the strategy game Diplomacy. This demonstrates, at least in a limited way, an AI tool’s capability for higher-level reasoning.
- Stability AI. Stability AI is an OpenAI competitor developing models for AI use cases as varied as producing audio and conducting medical and biological research.
- PwC. The consulting company PwC signed on for a 12-month partnership to provide 4,000 lawyers with an AI-powered tool to help speed up work on due diligence, regulatory compliance, and contract analysis. Other large firms, such as Bain & Company, have also said they are pursuing potential AI partnerships to increase efficiency.
AI tools may continue to support workers
The proliferation of AI tools means there are unpredictable dynamics in the types of tools beinggenerated, who will use them and how and what the overall impact may be. What’s important to remember, at least at this stage, is that these partnerships are intended to lighten employees’ loads – not replace them. There are optimistic predictions that AI tools may continue to work in such a way, helping employees and increasing workplace satisfaction.
An MIT study called Experimental Evidence on the Productivity Effects of Generative Artificial Intelligence enrolled 444 college-educated professionals to study the direct impact of AI-powered tools. In the study, half were given access to ChatGPT. The results found that:
- Access to the tool substantially raised average productivity.
- ChatGPT benefited low-ability workers more than high achievers.
- ChatGPT shifted work away from rough drafting toward editing and idea generation.
- The tool increased overall job satisfaction.
While it’s still too early to say whether the continued rollout of AI tools will always have such an impact, these tools appear to make work slightly better for employees across the board.
Artificial intelligence-driven robotic process automation in finance departments lightens employees’ load in bookkeeping, customer invoicing, report generation, and payment processing.
What workers should do to prepare for an AI-powered future
We may not fully understand whether AI-powered tools will lead to mass layoffs or lighten workers’ loads. However, the genie is already out of the bottle, and workers should prepare for an AI-powered future. While there is no magic solution for job security, the following tips can help professionals prepare.
- Develop soft skills. Soft skills are hard to replicate. Stand out by focusing on skills not easily transferable to a machine, such as being proactive, cultivating empathy and working on networking. Additionally, these skills are beneficial regardless of whether AI is coming to take your job.
- Learn AI-relevant skills. While AI may end up replacing some jobs, it will likely create new job categories. To prepare for such a future, employees should learn all they can about AI systems to amass the in-demand career skills AI will necessitate. AI educational resources are cropping up. For example, the University of Helsinki has released a free crash course in AI in various languages that can help prepare workers for the coming technological transition.
- Gain hands–on experience. The Resume Builder survey found that 90 percent percent of business leaders believed ChatGPT experience was a beneficial skill. As AI tools become more common across work areas, employees can stand out by demonstrating hands-on knowledge. Likewise, freelance writers or content creators may find that experience with ChatGPT can help increase efficiency by automating research or creating rough drafts, although ensure this doesn’t go against any standards or regulations clients have in place.
Some of the best enterprise architect certifications and best system administrator certifications address artificial intelligence solutions.
AI tool outlook
Times of rapid technological change are unnerving. No one – employees, business leaders, and even AI developers – truly knows how AI tools may end up affecting the workplace or employment prospects. However, by developing a mix of soft and hard skills, cultivating a willingness to explore new tools and embracing technological change as much as possible, workers may find themselves ultimately in a position with less busy work and more fulfilling work overall.