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AI on the Job

What happens when AI goes to work

Marketplace Tech Staff Jul 21, 2023
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AI on the Job

What happens when AI goes to work

Marketplace Tech Staff Jul 21, 2023
Heard on:
Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

We’ve taken a week off from our usual programming to research and report on the rise of artificial intelligence in the workplace. In our “AI on the Job” series, we looked into the ways this technology is automating some jobs, simplifying others, competing with human workers and creating entirely new careers.

Part 1: How generative tools automate and augment some parts of work

Generative AI tools like OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT, became widely popular soon after they were released. Just two months after it launched, ChatGPT had touted 100 million monthly active users, and the popularity of chatbots and the technology behind them is catching on across many aspects of life. Numerous industries have implemented various forms of AI tools in the workplace to automate and augment jobs. Experts differ on whether the technology will cause mass unemployment.

Part 2: How AI can influence what you learn at work

As AI becomes a part of more and more workplaces, employers hope this technology could enhance workers’ skills and productivity. A recent joint study from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology examined how customer support agents used an AI chatbot to assist with tech support questions and found that while productivity increased for low-experience workers, the technology stirred concerns that it acted as a crutch, or a barrier to learning skills that workers would otherwise acquire on the job.

Part 3: Will you be competing with a bot for a gig?

Generative artificial intelligence will only improve in the future, and that has some workers wondering if the technology will soon come for their jobs. Disney relied on AI to generate the opening credits for a new show, and copywriters told The Washington Post they’ve already lost contract gigs due to AI outsourcing. Experts studying AI say this technology is here to stay and the best thing workers can do is learn to work alongside it.

Part 4: Get ready to meet your AI assistant

Introducing AI into the workplace isn’t necessarily a bad thing for employees. Generative AI is already helping people do their jobs by making some tasks more efficient, eliminating others and even adding a creative boost to their workflow. Some experts and entrepreneurs see AI assistants that make jobs easier as the future of work, expecting them to become ubiquitous across industries.

Part 5: How AI could create new careers

The AI boom isn’t just creating new technologies, it’s also creating careers and spawning markets for products and services we never imagined. Researchers at Upwork found that hundreds of companies hope to hire more people to help integrate AI into their business, and those positions are not meant just for people with backgrounds in technology and engineering.

This isn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last time we cover the massive, unfolding shock of artificial intelligence in the workplace. There are so many unanswerable questions about how this will play out, which is why we grounded our coverage in what’s happening right now and what’s happened in the past when disruptive technology came to work.

But there are big caveats. Innovations, even fast-moving ones like AI, take time to filter through the business world. Our economy is still adjusting after the shock of pandemic labor shortages, and unemployment remains near historic lows.

Just how disruptive this transition turns out to be could hinge on how quickly it occurs. Will it follow the patterns we’ve seen before — ones our experts alluded to — brought about by tractors or calculators or word-processing software? Or are we staring down a fundamentally different force?

It’s a giant question we’ll keep asking as we continue to track AI on the job.

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