Robots taking over the world is a common, almost eye-roll-inducing sci-fi trope right now. And yet some employees are beginning to fear that this could be their reality.
As ChatGPT and other generative AI tools become mainstream, employees are increasingly concerned that these potentially useful tools will erode their job responsibilities and potentially put them out of work.
The fact is, these technologies are already hitting the workplace. Although OpenAI only launched ChatGPT in November 2022, 74% of working Americans familiar with ChatGPT have used the technology for work-related tasks, according to a recent survey of nearly 4,000 US adults conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Fortune.
And that’s likely to rise, as more than half of employees (56%) report that their company has already implemented discussions about using ChatGPT.
While current iterations routinely provide inaccurate information and stiff responses to creative prompts, it’s only a matter of time before these issues fade away. That worries Americans, though many are divided on what they think the end result will be.
According to the Harris survey, about 40% of employees familiar with ChatGPT are concerned that the artificial intelligence chatbot will completely replace their jobs, while 60% are optimistic that generative AI will make them more productive in their jobs. Just over a third of workers (38%) are concerned that technology may not replace them, but make them less useful in the workplace.
Future employment is a big part of the growing concerns around this form of AI. About 42% of Americans worry that ChatGPT will make it harder for them to find a new job. More than 7 in 10 believe AI technology is likely to replace roles with a strong focus on skills such as data entry and processing, media and communication, coding and even recruitment-related tasks.
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New research seems to confirm those feelings. Based on initial projections, generative AI has the potential to impact about 10% of the work tasks of eight in 10 American workers. According to researchers, about one in five employees will have about half of their work responsibilities impacted by this technology.
Jobs that involve a lot of programming and writing skills are most susceptible to being impacted by GPT technologies, while jobs that focus on science and critical thinking are less likely to be affected, the study found.
But Monster career expert Vicki Salemi writes that there are steps employees can take now to “robot-proof” their jobs. “Focus on strengthening your soft skills — something AI falls short — such as leadership, empathy, listening, and problem-solving,” she says.
“Instead of waiting for tasks to be automated, check your current job. Ask yourself what robots can do and what not, and start adding value, assuming that certain parts of your work are already automated,” Salemi added.
There is some comfort in history here – workers have gone through centuries of technological advancement cycles, and while there are reforms and restructuring, there are also opportunities.
“Every 10 to 15 years we have a technological breakthrough that negatively impacts some jobs while creating new industries and career areas. We saw this with PCs in the early 1980s, the Internet in the mid-1990s, smart devices and social networking, media about 15 years ago, and now AI,” Jack Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA, said in a statement.
ChatGPT and similar AI tools seem to be on the same trajectory. For example, at least one company is already offering a $300,000 salary for a fast-paced writer role. Chance indeed.
This story was originally on Fortune.com
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