Experts say ChatGPT and related AI could threaten some jobs, particularly white-collar ones.
It could do so by automating mid-career, mid-ability work.
Insider compiled a list of 10 jobs this technology could replace, according to experts.
Since its release in November of last year, OpenAI’s ChatGPT has been used to write cover letters, create a children’s book, and even help students cheat on their essays.
The chatbot may be more powerful than we ever imagined. Google found that, in theory, the search engine would hire the bot as an entry-level coder if it interviewed at the company.
Amazon employees who tested ChatGPT said it does a “very good job” of answering customer support questions, is “great” at making training documents, and is “very strong” at answering queries around corporate strategy.
Companies are taking notice. Both IBM and British telecommunications giant BT Group cited AI when announcing job cuts — and saying that many wouldn’t come back.
While a 2013 University of Oxford study found that 47% of US jobs could be eliminated by AI over the next 20 years, that prediction appears to have been off-base. A recent Goldman Sachs study found that generative AI tools could, in fact, impact 300 million full-time jobs worldwide, which could lead to a “significant disruption” in the job market.
Still, Anu Madgavkar, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute, said that human judgement needs to be applied to these technologies to avoid error and bias, she told Insider. Users of ChatGPT also found that the bot can generate misinformation, incorrectly answer coding problems, and produce errors in basic math.
“We have to think about these things as productivity enhancing tools, as opposed to complete replacements,” Madgavkar said.
Insider talked to experts and conducted research to compile a list of jobs that are at highest-risk for replacement by AI.
Tech jobs (Coders, computer programmers, software engineers, data analysts)
Coding and computer programming are in-demand skills, but it’s possible that ChatGPT and similar AI tools may fill in some of the gaps in the near future.
Tech jobs such as software developers, web developers, computer programmers, coders, and data scientists are “pretty amenable” to AI technologies “displacing more of their work,” Madgavkar said.
That’s because AI like ChatGPT is good at crunching numbers with relative accuracy.
In fact, advanced technologies like ChatGPT could produce code faster than humans, which means that work can be completed with fewer employees, Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute who has researched AI’s impact on the American workforce, told Insider.
“What took a team of software developers might only take some of them,” he added.
Tech companies like ChatGPT maker’s OpenAI are already considering replacing software engineers with AI.
Still, Oded Netzer, a Columbia Business School professor, thinks that AI will help coders rather than replace them.
“In terms of jobs, I think it’s primarily an enhancer than full replacement of jobs,” Netzer told CBS MoneyWatch. “Coding and programming is a good example of that. It actually can write code quite well.”
Media jobs (advertising, content creation, technical writing, journalism)
Media jobs across the board — including those in advertising, technical writing, journalism, and any role that involves content creation — may be affected by ChatGPT and similar forms of AI, Madgavkar said. That’s because AI is able to read, write, and understand text-based data well, she added.
“Analyzing and interpreting vast amounts of language based data and information is a skill that you’d expect generative AI technologies to ramp up on,” Madgavkar said.
Economist Paul Krugman said in a New York Times op-ed that ChatGPT may be able to do tasks like reporting and writing “more efficiently than humans.”
The media industry is already beginning to experiment with AI-generated content. Tech news site CNET used an AI tool similar to ChatGPT to write dozens of articles — though the publisher has had to issue a number of corrections — and BuzzFeed has used tech from the ChatGPT maker to generate new forms of content like quizzes and travel guides.
But Madgavkar said that the majority of work done by content creators is not automatable.
“There’s a ton of human judgment that goes into each of these occupations,” she said.
Legal industry jobs (paralegals, legal assistants)
Generative AI may most likely affect legal workers in the US, a recent Goldman Sachs report found.
That’s because the number of jobs in legal services is relatively small and have already been highly exposed to AI automation before the advent of new AI tools, Manav Raj, an author of the Goldman study, told Insider.
Like media roles, jobs in the legal industry such as paralegals and legal assistants are responsible for consuming large amounts of information, synthesizing what they learned, then making it digestible through a legal brief or opinion.
Language-oriented roles like these are susceptible to automation, Madgavkar said.
“The data is actually quite structured, very language-oriented, and therefore quite amenable to generative AI,” she added.
But again, AI won’t fully be able to automate these jobs since it requires a degree of human judgement to understand what a client or employer wants.
“It’s almost like a bit of a productivity boost that some of these occupations might get, because you can use tools that actually do this better,” Madgavkar said.
Market research analysts
AI is good at analyzing data and predicting outcomes, Muro said. That is why market research analysts may be susceptible to AI-driven change.
Market research analysts are responsible for collecting data, identifying trends within that data, and then using what they found to design an effective marketing campaign or decide where to place advertising.
“Those are things that we’re now seeing that AI could handle,” Muro said.
Teachers across the country are worried about students using ChatGPT to cheat on their homework, but according to Pengcheng Shi, an associate dean in the department of computing and information sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology, they should also be thinking about their job security.
ChatGPT “can easily teach classes already,” Shi told the New York Post.
“Although it has bugs and inaccuracies in terms of knowledge, this can be easily improved,” he said. “Basically, you just need to train the ChatGPT.”
But Shannon Ahern, a high school math and science teacher who uses ChatGPT to do things like lesson planning, told Insider she’s not worried she’ll be replaced by the tech.
“There will always be a need for us and the human connection that comes with in-person instruction,” she said.
Finance jobs (Financial analysts, personal financial advisors)
Like market research analysts, financial analysts, personal financial advisors, and other jobs in personal finance that require manipulating significant amounts of numerical data can be affected by AI, Muro, the researcher at The Brookings Institute, said.
“AI can identify trends in the market, highlight what investments in a portfolio are doing better and worse, communicate all that, and then use various other forms of data by, say, a financial company to forecast a better investment mix,” Muro said.
These analysts make a lot of money, he said, but parts of their jobs are automatable.
Experts say ChatGPT could upend jobs across a range of Wall Street industries, from trading to investment banking.
“It’s going to automate select tasks that knowledge workers are engaged in today so that they can focus on higher-value tasks,” Dylan Roberts, a partner at KPMG, told Insider.
Pengcheng Shi, a dean at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s computer science department, agrees that certain Wall Street roles could be in jeopardy.
“At an investment bank, people are hired out of college, and spend two, three years to work like robots and do Excel modeling — you can get AI to do that,” Shi told the New York Post.
In a December Harvard Business Review post, three professors pointed to DALL-E, an AI tool that can generate images in seconds, as a potential disruptor of the graphic design industry.
“Upskilling millions of people in their ability to create and manipulate images will have a profound impact on the economy,” they wrote, adding that “these recent advances in AI will surely usher in a period of hardship and economic pain for some whose jobs are directly impacted and who find it hard to adapt.”
But Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey, an economist at Oxford University, told Insider that AI-tools like ChatGPT may actually help workers in “creative” industries like art and graphic design produce higher quality work. Frey said he is more concerned about how the tech will impact wages.
“In my view, it’s less about automation,” he said. “It’s more about democratization and competition, potentially leading to lower wages for people in some of these professions.”
Accounting is generally viewed as a stable profession, but even employees in this industry could be at risk.
“Technology hasn’t put everybody out of a job yet, but it does put some people out of a job,” Brett Caraway, associate professor with the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology at the University of Toronto, said on Global News Radio 640 Toronto in January.
Caraway added that “intellectual labor” in particular could be threatened.
“This could be lawyers, accountants,” he said. “It is something new, and it will be interesting to see just how disruptive and painful it is to employment and politics.”
Customer service agents
You’ve probably already experienced calling or chatting with a company’s customer service, and having a robot answer. ChatGPT and related technologies could continue this trend.
A 2022 study from the tech research company Gartner predicted that chatbots will be the main customer service channel for roughly 25% of companies by 2027.
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