According to a recent report of 750 business leaders who use AI from ResumeBuilder37% say that technology will replace workers in 2023. Meanwhile, 44% report that there will be layoffs in 2024 as a result of the efficiency of artificial intelligence.
But even amid reports of AI-related layoffs, many experts disagree with Musk’s view.
Julia Toothaker, a resume and career strategist at ResumeBuilder, recognizes that the numbers in her research may not accurately reflect the broader business landscape. “There are still a lot of traditional organizations and small businesses that are not embracing technology the way some larger companies are,” Toothaker said.
Layoffs are a reality, but AI technology is also enabling business leaders to restructure and redefine the jobs we do.
Alex Hood, chief product officer at project management and collaboration company Asana, estimates that half the time we spend at work is what he calls “working around work.” Here it refers to status updates, communication between departments, and all the other parts of the business that are not at the core of why we are there.
“If that can be reduced because of artificial intelligence, that could be a great opening,” Hood said.
He says that without the nuance behind the numbers, the statistics that identify and predict layoffs due to AI reflect fear more than reality.
With AI handling task-based work, humans have the opportunity to move up the value chain, says Mark Cindella, founder of Leet Resumes and Ladders. For the entire economy, workers will be able to focus on “integrating, structuring or defining task-based work,” Cindella said. He compares this shift to mid-century office culture, when there were entire floors of typists — something that efficiency has eliminated. Word processors.
White collar work and “human-centered” AI.
according to Asana’s 2023 State of AI in Work reportEmployees say 29% of their work tasks could be replaced by AI. However, Asana is a proponent of what it calls “human-centered AI,” which seeks to enhance human capabilities and collaboration, not directly replace people. The report notes that the more people understand about human-centered AI, the more they believe it will have a positive impact on their work.
White-collar and clerical workers represent somewhere in between 19.6% – 30.4% of all workers globallyAccording to the United Nations. Analytical and communication tools have redirected cognitive work over the years, and “generative AI should be viewed as another development in this long chain of change.”
But as of 2022, 34% of the world’s population They still don’t have access to the internet, so any conversation about the impact of AI on layoffs and the potential restructuring of work must also include a discussion about the broader atom between the technology haves and have-nots.
Personal worker liability and artificial intelligence tinkering
For professionals seeking to avoid redundancy in an AI-powered work environment, there are steps to take.
Being a modern white-collar professional involves a level of personal responsibility, Cindella says. “Part of your job is to keep developing new skills,” he said. “If you learned some software five years ago, that’s not enough. You have to learn new software today.”
While functions like research and data analysis are aligned with AI automation, for example, companies will still need someone to motivate the AI, understand the results, and take action.
“My advice to anyone is to understand how AI can impact your position in your industry right now,” Toothaker said. “At least you have an idea of what to expect versus having no idea what’s going on.”
But Cindella also recognizes that there are expectations from business leaders to help employees continue to develop their skills during their time at the company. “Just out of their own self-interest, companies that fund the development of their employees will be in a better position to be a little bit ahead of companies that don’t,” he said.
Even Hood, which is on the front lines of creating collaboration and project management solutions using AI, is still experimenting with its own products. In preparation for an upcoming performance review of one of his team members, Hood conducted an experiment by asking the AI to summarize how it collaborated with the team member.
The AI produced a list of all their shared interests, all the tasks and comments between them, and a description of their relationship based on the messages they sent to each other. In this, Hood embodies what AI tinkering could look like.
“You learn it by asking him questions and seeing what he can do, and in some ways you’re disappointed, in some ways you’re impressed, and then you lean in,” Hood said. “The best thing employers can do is give employees the ability to understand the art of the possible through individual experiences with AI today.”
Although layoffs have occurred as a result of the current generation of AI, there is no historical evidence that technological advances like this will lead to mass unemployment. The workforce has a history of flexibility, and increased technological capability can lead to “higher value” work, says Cindella — and more productivity that future generations of AI will likely learn how to handle.
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