Whilst most of us were preoccupied by the pandemic, inflation and war, machine learning and robotics have been moving on rapidly. AI stands to be the fourth industrial revolution: a transformative technology that will fundamentally reshape economies.
As with all technological advances, jobs will be lost and new ones created. The difference with this one is that the jobs most at risk will be white-collar, middle-class jobs, while many of the jobs created might be of the low-paid, dead-end variety.
The professions apparently most at risk from the AI revolution are; bloggers, retail workers, software engineers and graphic designers. Journalists should probably be added to that list.
Zak Saidi is creative director and AI Lead of creative agency IZSRI, which already uses AI to automate some writing tasks and he claims that the impact of AI will be felt across many sectors within the next three years.
He already uses ChatGPT to draft written content and other AI tools for attention marketing and detecting social media trends.
ChatGPT hit 100 million users just two months after launch, by comparison, it took TikTok nine months to reach the milestone, and it has secured a $10 billion investment from Microsoft.
Copywriters and bloggers could soon be out of work because of AI tools such as ChatGPT, although the most talented human writers will remain in demand.
Saidi says: “We work with a lot of copywriters and there is certainly a lot of industry talk around the replacement of content writers by AI technology. ChatGPT is free, copywriters aren’t; we expect more tech-savvy small businesses to turn to ChatGPT and its AI counterparts when generating content.”
Buzzfeed announced earlier this year that it would use ChatGPT to generate some online content and tech site CNET faced controversy last month after it was revealed that the site had used AI to generate articles. Some of these articles were then found to be riddled with errors.
AI-powered content creation platform, Jasper, says tens of thousands of clients have already used its software to create adverts, blogs and marketing emails.
Currently, nothing can replace human creativity and In its current form ChatGPT generates highly generic content.
If you go to your local supermarket, you can see that checkout staff have already been replaced by AI bots. Artificial intelligence company Standard AI, bought self-checkout company Skip this year with a goal to create ‘autonomous retail’, to ‘give retailers immediate relief from their labour challenges’.
Saidi says, “In some ways, it can be said that AI works to free workers from the more menial tasks, giving them the time to take on more managerial and creative roles. But we have to consider that there are only so many managers that can manage retail stores.”
As well as producing convincing text in English, ChatGPT can also write computer code in languages such as Python.
ChatGPT maker OpenAI also makes a different version, Codex, specifically for writing computer code, which Microsoft uses in its GitHub Copilot.
Saidi says that such technology could have an immediate and wide-ranging impact on developers – and even cybersecurity experts.
“Now, this is where we can start to get a bit concerned, even with applications like ChatGPT still in their rudimentary form, he continued.
“ChatGPT generates lines of html code without having to think, solving complex errors in sequence of code infinitely faster than a human. This, to a certain extent, is throwing the role of supporting software engineers into question.
“Whilst you still do need a human to plan out a software development project, ChatGPT can act as a crucial tool to resolve broken code and build basic applications – a role that would have been previously reserved for junior software engineers.”
Cybercriminals are already using tools such as ChatGPT to automate everything from writing malware to creating dark web markets, and Saidi says that AI tools could impact cybersecurity professionals’ jobs.
Graphic designers could be replaced with AI tools as well, with tools such as Dall-E creating around 2 million new images every day.
Stock image giant Getty Images launched legal proceedings against Stability AI, maker of Stable Diffusion, alleging that it has copied millions of its images.
Saidi says that the ability to produce images cheaply and rapidly will make such technology very tempting for small businesses without the budget to pay for graphic designers, artists or illustrators.
Saidi says, “It certainly puts the role of graphic designers and illustrators into question. Like ChatGPT, the imagery can be generic and tricky to refine, but with some work and optimization you can whip up some stunning visuals. Many still believe, and rightly so, that human creativity will always be at the core of design, with some creatives looking to AI for artistic inspiration, rather than a replacement for their assistant.”
Andy Wadsworth, director at IT recruitment firm, The Bridge, says: “Services like ChatGPT are the public’s first window into the Pandora’s box that the industrial revolution 3.0 could be: there will be winners and losers and, no doubt, some jobs will be replaced by AI, but, it will be those companies and individuals who learn to use generative AI and adapt to this brave new world that will be the winners.”
The most resilient roles will be those that require a face to face interaction and physical skills that AI cannot replace. So trades, such as plasterers, electricians, mechanics, etc. and services – everything from hairdressers to chiropodists – will continue to rely on human understanding of the task and human ability to deliver it.
Hospitality, for example, will still need people as chefs, waiters and chambermaids and in healthcare, we will still need doctors, nurses, dentists and the huge array of specialist practitioners that look after us.
In the knowledge economy, ChatGPT and the technology that follow present the biggest threat, but also the greatest opportunity.
Currently, this AI capability is the equivalent of a toddler that we are teaching how to behave and what to do.
And, just like a toddler, it is learning exponentially – with every interaction and everything we feed into it, ChatGPT is becoming more capable and building on experience.
The global community is driving how quickly ChatGPT learns and what it learns, so the jobs that are replaced or evolve the fastest will very much depend on how people use the technology.
The economist Joseph Schumpeter popularised a phrase to describe how capitalism periodically reinvents itself. He called it creative destruction, and just such a process is in its early stages now.
Whether this tech becomes a threat or an opportunity is all down to who is using it and how.
Part 2 of this article will be written by ChatGPT.