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How will AI affect the workforce?

The common concern is that there will be fewer jobs. But here's another: AI jeopardizes expertise because it eliminates entry-level roles needed for cultivating skills.


➤ Background

AI can perform tasks that only humans could do previously, such as producing images and text. The recent GPT hype illustrates how.


➤ A common concern for the workforce - unemployment crisis


As AI adoption soars, machines will do more of the tasks that people are currently getting paid to do. That could lead to a massive reduction in the number of open positions in the workforce, leading to a widespread unemployment crisis.


➤ Another concern - expertise crisis


The jobs that AI threatens are entry-level jobs. People need those jobs not only to pay their bills. They also need them to build their skills and become experts. The worry is that if people stop doing this entry-level work, they won't be able to become experts.


➤ Legal sector example


LLMs (such as ChatGPT) can write contracts at the level of junior lawyers. LLMs make mistakes, but so do junior lawyers. It is the job of more senior lawyers to go over contract drafts and correct them. Law firms could decide to use LLMs instead of junior lawyers to write those first drafts. But junior lawyers must write those contract drafts to hone their skills and become experts.


Thank you to David Claypoole who brought this example to my attention.


➤ Graphic design example


Visual generative AI (such as Midjourney) can create and modify visuals at the level of entry-level graphic designers. Graphic designers are often self-employed and depend on early-level work to be able to enter the profession. If entry-level work is taken away, they may not be able to enter the profession at all.


Thank you to Ilan Finkelstein who brought this example to my attention.


➤ I mention these concerns because I believe there are things we can do to mitigate the negative consequences. But the first step is understanding the challenges.


➤ Join the conversation about this issue on my LinkedIn page here

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