AI a bigger threat than automaton to millions of job-seekers

The tech giant has around 26,000 workers so nearly 7,800 jobs could be replaced by AI in the coming years.

New Delhi: Till about a couple of months ago, the whole discussion regarding machines taking away human jobs was centred around automation and robots/humanoids. The arrival of ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence (AGI) models have sparked a real, and bigger threat.

What began as a conversational tool via prompts is likely to replace human workers doing certain jobs, beginning with industries like IT/software/tech and media/creative agencies and new-age platforms serving the digital economy.

However, it is still early days for AI — trained on large language models (LLMs) — to take away jobs across the spectrum amid larger scrutiny but specific clues have emerged.

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IBM CEO Arvind Krishna told Bloomberg in an interview this week: “I could easily see 30 per cent of jobs getting replaced by AI and automation over a five-year period.”

The tech giant has around 26,000 workers so nearly 7,800 jobs could be replaced by AI in the coming years.

However, this transition won’t be immediate and IBM will first pause hiring for those roles it deems could be replaced by AI, particularly those for back-office or non-customer facing roles, said its CEO.

According to Arundhati Bhattacharya, CEO and Chairperson for Salesforce India and a former SBI Chairperson, generative artificial intelligence has a blessing in disguise as it can take away a lot of the grunge or repetitive work in India, and leave people to actually perform more creative work.

“What generative AI actually will help us do is actually curate things so that they can be made relevant to us. If you ask them the questions in the right manner is where AI can actually help,” Bhattacharya told IANS recently.

According to a report by global investment bank Goldman Sachs, AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs and Generative AI, able to create content indistinguishable from human work, is “a major advancement”.

Global technology company Zoho’s CEO and co-founder Sridhar Vembu said that AI poses a serious threat to several programming jobs.

Referring to the conversational AI platforms like ChatGPT and others, Vembu said that he has been saying internally for the past 4-5 years that “ChatGPT, GPT4, and other AI being created today will first affect the jobs of many programmers”.

According to Carl Benedikt Frey, future-of-work director at the Oxford Martin School, Oxford University, the only thing he is sure of is that “there is no way of knowing how many jobs will be replaced by generative AI”.

“What ChatGPT does, for example, is allow more people with average writing skills to produce essays and articles. Journalists will therefore face more competition, which would drive down wages, unless we see a very significant increase in the demand for such work,” Frey told BBC News.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and OpenAI, the developer behind ChatGPT, recently investigated the potential implications of large language models (LLMs), such as Generative Pretrained Transformers (GPTs), on the US labour market.

The findings revealed that around 80 per cent of the workforce could have at least 10 per cent of their work tasks affected by the introduction of LLMs, while approximately 19 per cent of workers may see at least 50 per cent of their tasks impacted.

“We do not make predictions about the development or adoption timeline of such LLMs. The projected effects span all wage levels, with higher-income jobs potentially facing greater exposure to LLM capabilities and LLM-powered software,” the researchers noted.

Significantly, these impacts are not restricted to industries with higher recent productivity growth.

“Our analysis suggests that, with access to an LLM, about 15 per cent of all worker tasks could be completed significantly faster at the same level of quality. When incorporating software and tooling built on top of LLMs, this share increases to between 47 and 56 per cent of all tasks,” they warned.

Jobs in agriculture, mining and manufacturing are the least exposed to generative AI, while jobs in the information processing industries, like IT, are the most exposed to AI models, the study said.

The World Economic Forum also predicts that AI will bring three changes to the finance division: job cuts, job creation, and increased efficiency.

Banks have already started incorporating AI into their business models. Morgan Stanley has begun using OpenAI-powered chatbots to organise its wealth management database.

Kristian Hammond, chief scientist of Natural Sciences, told the BBC that in 15 years, “90 per cent of news will be written by machines”.

Some tech firms have started hiring “prompt managers” to help with certain office tasks via AI chatbots.

AI appears to be fast turning into a monster that will knock at our doors any time and according to experts, it is pertinent for the future workforce to learn AI skills.

(Nishant Arora can be reached at

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