By: Celia Sun
San Francisco, June 13, 2023 - The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots, such as ChatGPT, is causing a paradigm shift in the job market. Initially designed to automate repetitive and mundane tasks, AI chatbots are now threatening high-paid job positions in various industries. The implications have become evident as professionals are losing their jobs. In particular, Olivia Lipkin, a 25-year-old copywriter from San Francisco, found herself out of work due to the adoption of ChatGPT at her tech start-up.
Lipkin's experience is not an isolated incident. In fact, the growing trend of implementing generative AI technologies that are capable of producing human-like text has created concern among knowledge workers. While experts acknowledge that AI still lacks the personal voice and creativity of a human, many companies are embracing its cost-cutting advantages, even at the expense of quality.
However, this concept isn’t completely novel. The use of AI in the workforce is a concept that has been introduced previously. For decades, various industries have utilized AI and algorithms to automate tasks and improve efficiency. However, the advancement of generative AI, which leverages complex algorithms trained on vast amounts of data from the internet, has ushered in a new era of disruption. Its ability to generate text that closely resembles human writing style and content has put many knowledge workers at risk.
Occupations such as copywriting, document translation, transcription, and paralegal work face the highest risk of being replaced by AI chatbots. Ethan Mollick, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, likened AI to a high-end intern. Mollick stated that entry-level jobs designed as stepping stones to higher positions are the most susceptible to AI automation.
While concerns regarding AI's impact on the workforce are increasing, it is still too early to determine the full extent of the threat. Experts predict that white-collar workers, including lawyers, are at higher risk than those in physically demanding trades. The potential for automation also varies depending on the task’s nature, with outdoor or physically labor-intensive jobs being less susceptible to AI replacement.
The story of Eric Fein, a content writer from Bloomingdale, Illinois, exemplifies the challenges faced by professionals in the wake of AI automation. After losing all his contracts to ChatGPT, Fein emphasized that AI chatbots lack the level of creativity, technical precision, and originality that he brought to his work. Although some clients rehired him due to ChatGPT's shortcomings, Fein decided to pursue a more future-proof career and enrolled in courses to become an HVAC technician and plumber.
Despite their promising prospects, companies that have replaced human workers with chatbots have encountered significant setbacks. Examples include erroneous articles produced by artificial intelligence, fictitious cases cited in legal briefs, and insensitive advice given by chatbots operating helplines. Sarah T. Roberts warned that rushing to incorporate ChatGPT into operations may lead to costly errors and lower the overall quality of content.
The impact of AI automation has left professionals like Olivia Lipkin reconsidering their career paths. Frustrated by the prioritization of labor costs over human skills and creativity, Lipkin has decided to take a break from the office world and instead focus on her new venture as a dog walker.
As the job market continues to evolve, it remains uncertain how AI will reshape the workforce. While AI automation presents challenges, it also opens doors for new opportunities and emphasizes the importance of uniquely human skills. The future may require a balance between AI technology and human expertise to ensure a prosperous and inclusive job market.