Will AI Take Your Job?

Feb 8, 2024 | Uncategorized

Over the past 12 months, there has been a significant increase in business, political and policy discussions around Artificial Intelligence (AI), Large Language Models (LLM) and Generative Pretrained Transformer (GPT) technology. The AI trend that emerged last year with the public beta of OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool around the holidays last year has gone through a few rounds of considerable improvement this year and now in its early stages of formal commercialization where customers are paying for AI to help their businesses be more efficient and effective.

In 2018, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) “Future of Jobs” report forecasted that “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.” ChatGPT is likely the catalyst to the transformation that will enable this prediction to come true. Does this mean that AI will be responsible for replacing humans? It’s unlikely in the near term. Far more likely, AI will become a valuable tool to aiding people do their jobs more efficiently and effectively leading to significant increases in productivity in spaces where AI is embraced and adopted.

What is current Artificial Intelligence good for?

The GPT technologies that have garnered so much visibility in 2023 bring together massive quantities of information on which it is trained to enable a user to use natural language prompts to get responses in the format that is requested in the prompt. For example, a user can ask a GPT chatbot to evaluate pros and cons of driving vs. flying between Seattle and San Francisco, and the user could request that the response be in paragraph form or bullet points. A user could also ask a GPT to write software code or a SQL query that accomplishes a task and the GPT would respond with a properly formatted response that could even be annotated with comments to help a user find their way through the GPT’s output.

While impressive, this technology is still in its early stages and is not always correct or accurate. However, the outputs of GPT technology are based on recognizing and applying patterns in the data on which it was trained, searching for patterns that match the prompt it receives, and following some standard patterns to generate a response that follows the standard norms and practices of the communication media it is asked to output. For this reason, it’s a risky endeavor to simply trust the output of GPT without having some basic knowledge of the topic in order to validate the output. Depending on the situation, a full fact check of GPT output would be a prudent step in utilizing GPT-based work-product.

The AI space is quickly evolving and improving. This article is deliberately vague to avoid the risk of being out of date by the time it is published. That said, as it improves as a tool, it’s potential only helps us go further. That said, it does not come without risks of privacy, security or other unforeseen risks. Those responsible for curating this technology are constantly working to improve guardrails restricting its use to ensure it is safe, reliable and trustworthy. The conversation on the responsible, safe application of AI technology is a hot topic at an international policy level, but the reality is that this technology is here to stay and it would be challenging, if not impossible, to “un-ring the bell” of ChatGPT.

How can people prepare for the AI wave?

Predictions like those in the “Future of Jobs” report have circulated for almost two decades, largely in support of a shift in educational paradigm away from historically rote, mechanical or memorization-based models toward those that teach 21st century skills, a set of core transferrable capabilities that focus on competency with topics such as analytics, reasoning, communication and teamwork, rather than a particular set of knowledge on a given subject. The logic suggests that such a set of skills will enable a person to adapt to their surroundings without targeting a specific job as the goal of their education.

With fluidity in job descriptions, those who hope to land the jobs need to be able to adapt lest their capabilities become obsolete. While it may seem new, the AI wave is not a disruptive factor to the importance of these transferrable skills. On the contrary, AI technology offers such an enhancement to productivity that a person who can envision ways to leverage AI to help them achieve outcomes at work will realize a force multiplier in the outcomes they are able to deliver. Those who can exhibit directed curiosity with a critical eye will be able to utilize AI to achieve more by staying competitive in the digital economy.

By NWIRC Executive Director Diane Kamionka, Originally Published in Business Pulse Magazine

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