Will AI only displace jobs?

Our fascination with AI often distracts us from the threats it can pose in the future, if not already.

Mahtab Uddin Ahmed

Mahtab Uddin Ahmed

The Daily Star


February 17, 2023

DHAKA – The anchor of a popular US talk show confronted Alexa, an artificial intelligence (AI) bot, regarding complaints from its users concerning Alexa’s creepy laugh.

He asked Alexa directly about her creepy laughter, which can be heard at the most inappropriate moments, sometimes even scaring people off their wits in the middle of the night.

In reply, Alexa gave out a creepy laugh, saying, “oh, like that”. And then she explained that it was a funny joke she remembered.

The anchor asked what the joke was and she replied: “Why did the chicken cross the road?” At a loss, the anchor babbled, “I don’t know that one. Why?”

Alexa smartly responded, followed by her creepy laugh, “Because humans are a fragile species with no idea what’s coming next.” Feeling outwitted, the anchor exclaimed, “I think that might be Hillary Clinton in there.”

That is a true story, if any of you are wondering. My first experience with Alexa was in 2016 while studying late at night in a study group at Harvard Business School. Alexa was singing, cracking jokes, and firing information on any topic! I was simply as fascinated by it as I am with ChatGPT these days. Both platforms are based on AI, which profoundly interests me.

Our fascination with AI often distracts us from the threats it can pose in the future, if not already. The widespread adoption of AI technologies like ChatGPT and Bard could lead to job displacement in specific industries. The jobs at risk include customer service executives, data entry operators, taxi drivers, receptionists, secretaries, proofreaders, security guards, doctors, lawyers, soldiers, and factory workers.

Tech jobs such as software developers, web developers, computer programmers, coders, and data scientists are also at risk of getting redundant. But there is the silver lining: it is unlikely to replace jobs like CEO, CXO, planners, PR agency executives, coaches, counsellors, market researchers, and scientists.

While AI will imminently gobble up many popular employment fields, it will also likely create new job opportunities and industries that did not previously exist. Some new jobs include data detective, data security, AI governance officer to prevent abuse, ethical sourcing officer, AI business development manager and AI-based product innovation manager. We would have to focus on how to catch up with these areas where there will be ample opportunities for growth in the future.

Some key trends include AI for text, speech and vision; growth of human and machine collaboration; increased demand for a driver-less car; more attention to ethics and governance in AI. Generative AI will play a more vital role in the creative space.

Additionally, it is essential to remember that AI can only replace human skills and abilities in some areas. For example, creativity, empathy, and critical thinking are still uniquely human abilities that AI will struggle to replicate.

The impact of AI on the job market is complex and largely depends on various factors. Some jobs will likely be lost, but others will be created, and individuals and cultures must be proactive in adapting to these changes in the most ethical way.

AI, like ChatGPT or Bard if used with wisdom and experience, can positively enhance intelligence and information distribution. However, it can be a dangerous tool if it is used without proper experience and by mischief makers.

According to Elon Musk, a co-founder of OpenAI, “AI is something that is risky at the civilisation level, not merely at the individual risk level, and that’s why it really demands a lot of safety research.”

The author is a telecom and management expert

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