As artificial intelligence (AI) technology advances, it’s natural to feel a sense of hesitation or even concern about the potential impacts. AI is rightly touted as a massively powerful tool, with the power to transform the way that businesses operate and even force societies to ask critical questions about ethics, privacy, and the nature of humanity. But more immediately, you may be wondering: will AI take over my job?

Robots and automation systems have indeed eliminated many jobs already. Since 2000, about 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have disappeared as their tasks have become automated. Still, the growth of AI likely means more than just a shift from humans to machines in the workplace. It is forecast that AI could create jobs as well—97 million of them by 2025.

Uneven Impact of AI on Jobs

AI is more likely to lead to a reduction in available jobs in some industries than others. Senior tech executives from the Forbes Technology Council have identified over a dozen jobs and industries that are likely to become fully (or almost fully) automated in the next decade. These include manufacturing and warehouse positions, long haul trucking, research and data entry, customer service, and some insurance jobs, among others. These categories comprise millions of jobs across the country, as well as both specially trained employees and blue-collar workers.

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It’s unlikely that AI will leave workers in these industries and positions out of a job overnight. Rather, expect for businesses to make a gradual transition—despite the impressive power of AI technology even today, keep in mind that businesses take a risk by dramatically altering their operations with the introduction of automation. It’s probable that companies will test out robot assistance before slowly replacing tasks and, eventually, positions.

Many other types of positions may be partially or even fully replaceable by machines. Any job that performs tasks that are learnable and replicable may be in the crosshairs. For example, delivery drivers, security guards, receptionists, pilots, bus drivers, and many military positions fall under this umbrella. Doctors’ and surgeons’ assistants may also be replaced by AI systems in some cases as well.

Language- and Art-Based Work

Understandably, the rise of the powerful ChatGPT chatbot has led to speculation that AI could replace jobs that require writing. A version of ChatGPT released by developer OpenAI in March 2023 was capable of passing the bar and many other standardized tests, in addition to being able to write lyrics for songs, short stories, and even novels.

Experts believe that AI can play an important role in handling many aspects of written work. Formulaic tasks like creating social media posts, addressing customer service needs, and writing certain emails are all likely targets for AI systems. But it is possible that jobs that require higher-level creative writing will remain largely the domain of human workers, with AI perhaps helping to generate ideas or first drafts of content.

AI systems already exist for the purpose of creating music and visual art. While there are significant hurdles to a computer developing a song or a painting that rivals the best humans, there are also many incentives for AI technology companies to work toward developing computers that can do so. AI could eliminate the need to pay producers, composers, songwriters, and other artists, making computer-generated art significantly cheaper.

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Positions That May Be Safe From AI Replacement

Experts tend to agree that some types of jobs are likely to be safe from replacement by AI systems even over a longer timeframe. These jobs tend to be those that require high levels of emotional or social intelligence, as these are skills that are qualitative and difficult to build into AI training protocols. AI is strongest when it is tasked with computing data and following detailed instructions. So far, it tends to struggle when faced with a task that requires ingenuity or a creative approach.

Executives at companies must navigate a wide array of complicated duties, all while maintaining keen social and emotional gauges as they work with a host of employees. For these reasons, these types of positions are unlikely to be replaced by computers any time soon. Similarly, teachers, lawyers, graphic designers, computer scientists, psychiatrists, and many artists may have better industry security for the same kinds of reasons.

Potential For New Jobs

Many experts agree that AI is likely to also create new goods and services, which in turn could lead to the creation of many new types of jobs that we don’t yet know. One area that is likely to be revolutionized for human workers as AI develops is data. AI systems rely on vast troves of data in order to learn and grow. This data, in turn, requires people capable of sourcing, annotating, engineering, labeling, and more.

More broadly, workers in industries that are heavily impacted by AI may not necessarily be out of a job. Rather, some experts believe that those workers who best understand how to make use of AI systems to aid their performance will be the most successful. And it may help to keep perspective to remember that forecasts about AI and jobs are not set in stone. A 2014 analysis, for example, predicted that automation would eliminate nearly half of all jobs by 2034. About halfway through that time period, there is scant reason to believe such a drastic shift will take place in that timeframe.

Cheat Sheet

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is a wide-ranging technology that can disrupt and transform a host of industries, potentially leading to a large-scale shift in how humans think of work.
  • Since 2000, it is estimated that automation systems have eliminated 1.7 million manufacturing jobs.
  • At the same time, AI could create 97 million new jobs in just the next couple of years, according to experts.
  • Jobs that require tasks that can be learned and replicated—such as drivers, pilots, customer service agents, some types of medical assistants, and similar—may be among the most likely to be replaced by AI.
  • On the other hand, jobs requiring human ingenuity or creativity, or which rely heavily on social and emotional skills, might be the safest.
  • AI is unlikely to fully eliminate entire categories of work. Rather, it could gradually play a larger and larger role in many types of jobs, eventually supplanting some workers. 
  • Those employees best able to understand and make use of AI to aid them in their work could be the most successful in navigating a shifting landscape.

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