Opinion: Competing for jobs with synthetic intelligence

When saying the term “artificial intelligence,” some people think of human-looking robots learning to take over the world.

We are a long way from such a Hollywood catastrophe. But concern is rising about the potential of artificial intelligence devices, whether they look like us or not, to become too intelligent for their own good and to cause numerous disruptions in the world of work.

No one can see the future clearly enough to know for sure, although it’s fairly easy to predict that technology will continue to improve over the years. A good example is television – both the devices people use to watch shows and the way the people who produce the shows distribute them. Since the introduction of the medium around 1950, there have been constant innovations.

As for AI, keep in mind that elemental forms of it have been around for a while. Numerous computer programs, used in fields ranging from car assembly to accounting, have enabled companies to get their jobs done faster – and with fewer staff.

The next level of artificial intelligence builds on this track record. An article on the Washington Post website states that technology “has been used to automate dirty and repetitive work.” But now, it goes on to say, it is about jobs that should actually be protected from the threat of automation.

The story tells of a 25-year-old copywriter at a San Francisco tech startup who was fired in April when managers decided that using ChatGPT software to write assignments was cheaper than hiring someone to do the work pay.

Another interview was with a 34-year-old Illinois man who ran a content writing business for 10 years for $60 an hour. But in March, its largest client switched its writing jobs to ChatGPT, and its other nine contract clients soon followed.

The author claimed that artificial intelligence, with its level of creativity and originality, could not produce text. Customers agreed but said Chat GPT was far more affordable.

With this knowledge, a career change was imminent and the former writer enrolled in an apprenticeship as a heating and air conditioning technician. Next year he would also like to complete an apprenticeship as a plumber, as he assumes that “a profession is more future-proof”.

As the artificial intelligence debate heats up, remember: there are still certain things computers and robots can’t do, and jobs like air conditioning repairs, plumbing, and construction are among them. The people who thrive in fields like these may be the last to laugh at others who have studied – only to find that technology reduces or eliminates the need for their specialty.

Goldman Sachs predicted in March that artificial intelligence could do up to 18% of the world’s work. However, it was pointed out that activities that involve spending a lot of time outdoors or doing manual labor cannot be automated.

And one more thing: With these AI advancements, there are still many bugs that need to be fixed. Evidence of this comes from the National Eating Disorders Association, which fired its hotline staff and reportedly replaced it with a chatbot. The technology promptly delivered “insensitive and harmful advice” to callers and was shut down.

Of course, such bugs can be fixed, and the world is kidding itself if it thinks artificial intelligence isn’t going to keep improving – probably fast. When employers are tempted to choose between a good-paying workforce and computer programs that can do similar work at a lower cost, it’s pretty clear what the choice will often be.

— Jack Ryan, McComb Enterprise Journal

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