AI is quietly eating up the world’s workforce with job automation

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This article was provided by Valerias Bangert, a strategy and innovation consultant, founder and publisher of three media outlets.

AI Job Automation: Discussion

The debate over whether AI will automate jobs is heating up. AI critics claim that these statistical models lack the creativity and intuition of human workers and are thus doomed to precise, repetitive tasks. However, this pessimism basically underestimates the power of AI. While AI job automation has already replaced about 400,000 factory jobs in the U.S. between 1990 and 2007, with another 2 million on the road, AI is automating the economy more subtly today.

Robo-writers

Take the example of writing jobs. AI can easily generate text that is obscured by human writing. This type of AI is transforming job automation workers in a way that is not visible to the naked eye.

The popular AI copywriting application, Rytr, for example, has over 600,000 users, and is growing rapidly. In other words, more than half a million people are using Rytr alone to fully or partially automate their writing. It is estimated that there are more than 1 million freelance writers worldwide who are increasingly competing with robots that do not tire, do not require payment and can generate unlimited amounts of content.

The implications are serious: the classical estimates for AI-induced job losses focus solely on repetitive manual labor and blue-collar jobs. But white-collar jobs, such as content writing, are just as vulnerable to AI replacement.

Robo-support

This trend is not limited to just writing. AI also automates jobs in a host of customer service, accounting and other businesses. For example, companies such as Thankful, Yaxt, and Forthote use AI to automate customer support. These shifts are often imperceptible to the customer, who does not know if they are talking to a biological intelligence or a machine. The rise of AI-powered customer service has huge implications for employees. It is estimated that 85% of consumer interactions are already handled without human interaction.

There are approximately 3 million customer service representatives in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of these jobs are at risk of being replaced by AI. When such jobs become automated, the question is: where do the displaced workers go?

The answer is not clear. It is likely that many of these workers will be re-employed in other sectors. But it is also possible that they will become unemployed, and the economy will struggle to absorb them. This is essential for a universal basic income, in which the government provides a basic income for all citizens to live on, so that job losses due to automation can be offset.

Robo-translators

Translation, of course, has long been at risk of automation. However, the advent of the big language model makes human translators increasingly vulnerable to replacement by AI. In a 2020 research paper, it was shown that a transformer-based deep learning system lags behind human translators. This study is significant because it shows that AI translators are not only as good as human translators, but often better.

Not only that, the rise of AI translators is likely to have a negative impact on the salaries of human translators. As AI translation becomes more common, the demand for human translators will decrease and their salaries will decrease accordingly. While many economists at one time were concerned about the impact of outsourcing on the white-collar workforce, the impending wave of AI will have a more serious impact across all sectors.

In fact, according to a Forbes report, AI job automation has already been the primary driver in U.S. revenue inequality for the past 40 years.

Robo-coders

Just over a year ago, an OpenAI beta tester tested positive that AI could one day replace many coder jobs. At the time, OpenAI had not yet released its code-generation engine, Codex, which now allows AI to write code autonomously in multiple languages. While today’s codecs are fairly primitive, one does not need to be futuristic to see how this technology can be used to automate many coder jobs in the future. The AI ​​gets better at understanding the code and writing it, it will soon match and eventually surpass the level of human skill.

Effects of AI Job Automation

Just two years ago, the idea of ​​AI automated jobs like creative roles was the stuff of science fiction or at least left to a few early-adoption businesses. But now, AI is becoming a table stack for many businesses. In other words, if you’re not using AI, you’re at a disadvantage. The main reason for this is that the larger language model, mainly OpenAI’s GPT-3, has become better at understanding natural language.

The examples given so far are just the tip of the iceberg. AI eliminates jobs in virtually every field and industry. Although this seems to be the cause of the alarm, it is actually long overdue news. The fact is, we live in a world where machines have been slowly replacing human workers for centuries.

What’s new is the speed of automation. Machines are now becoming faster, better and cheaper than humans at an alarming rate. As a result, we are seeing a fundamental change in the economy where machines are starting to do the creative work of humans.

Amidst the opportunity to automate jobs, a new wave of AI-focused startups has emerged, all seeking to take advantage of the potential of AI. The AI ​​Gold Rush is a testament to the billions of dollars in venture funding that has flowed into AI startups in recent months. In the third quarter of 2021 alone, about $ 18 billion was invested in AI companies, a record high.

This influx of capital is an indication that investors believe in the potential of AI, and they are betting that it will eventually eliminate many jobs, instead generating that value with machines. In the meantime, we must prepare ourselves for a future in which AI is quietly feeding the world’s employees.

Valerias Bangert is a strategy and innovation consultant, founder and published author of three for-profit media outlets.

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