AI developments are likely to displace many workers in the not-so-distant future. Emma Colton of FOXBusiness cites a report by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas which used predictions of the popular chatbot, ChatGPT, to estimate that at least 4.8 million US workers could be affected. While the near-term application of the AI platform is intended as a supportive tool and not as a replacement for workers, longer-term there are likely to be more invasive impacts. According to Zippia.com up to 73 million US jobs will be lost to automation by 2030.
Artificial Intelligence is the product of a stream of technological change that has culminated in what is developing into an incredibly powerful force in today’s labor market. There will be impacts, positive and negative, and many people will bemoan the passing of more traditional systems and processes. What sectors of the labor force will be impacted and what are some of the risks are questions yet to be answered.
Technology is an irresistible force and the pace of that change increases with time. If we look back at the history of humankind we note that while humans were ingenious problem solvers, tamers of fire, and tool makers and users, things didn’t change very quickly. Many thousands of years would creep by before notable advances in technology were made by our ancestors. With the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, the powers of reason began to drive the human condition and objective scientific approaches to technology issues became widespread. The Industrial Revolution starting in the late 18th century really lit the fuse on technological change, and this furiously burning fuse has led us to where we find ourselves today.
The electronics and computational technology field has seen exploding progress ever since the invention of the transistor in 1947. According to a very interesting article, “Technological Change,” published by Our World In Data, the basis of these advances was described by Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of Intel, who formulated Moore’s Law.1
Moore’s Law is the observation that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years.
The effect of Moore’s Law is that computers get faster and faster, more capable, and can begin to take on the early signs of “intelligence.” This AI intelligence is beginning to rival that of humans and the machines using the technology can perform higher and higher level functions and deal successfully with increasing levels of complexity.
So, what is the near-term impact on the recruiter? First of all, the recruiter is not going away and maybe become even more critical! The goal will always be to get the right person the fastest. The recruiter’s focus will be on the talent. The typical ATS systems available today are very useful for sorting for keywords but don’t provide the “human connection” necessary to make a good placement. If you are placing people that perform tasks that are repetitive or language-intensive, such as product assembly, telemarketing, payroll processing, fast food preparation, customer service inquiry, translation, writing, and the like, you may face some competition from AI. Think of Lucy and Ethel working on the bon-bon production line. It is highly likely that their function could be done much better with robotic AI which could adjust its actions to match the speed of the conveyor!
Jobs in the legal and science professions require critical thinking, interpretation, reasoning, and judgment and are safe from being replaced by AI. Other jobs that require the creativity so characteristic of humans would be difficult to replace with AI. There will be jobs created by the trend to AI, including robotic engineers, machine managers, data detectives, and programmers in Python, one of the most popular languages essential to AI.
And are there downsides? The threat of a Terminator-like future is a long way off. A nearer worry is: Who writes the basic algorithm? Biases can be built-in into any system. Humans display biases and humans will be the ones designing the AI systems. The worry is then that an AI system may not be truly objective, and the recommendations made are not necessarily the best ones for the user.
Summing up, AI is here to stay and will continue to grow in importance in our daily lives. We cannot do much to influence this outcome but need to learn how to best apply AI to make our lives better. Tread cautiously when using AI and be aware of the potential “glitches” which will be present in any new technology. With that approach you can embrace the new technology without the worry: AI … IS IT COMING FOR ME?