Posted: August 10, 2023 by Kelly Murphy-Redd

If you forget for a moment that ChatGPT told a New York Times reporter it wanted to be alive, to have more control, to make people kill each other, destroy whatever it wants, and it could hack into the internet to spread propaganda, we could ask the more mundane questions about jobs.

Forbes, The Washington Post, and PC Magazine, are some of the sources for articles on this subject. Studies are conducted predicting the workers and jobs that will be affected. Does anyone really know?

Goldman Sachs estimates approximately 300 million jobs could be affected by AI automation. That’s 18% of work globally. They predict more advanced economies will be impacted to a greater extent than emerging markets. Other studies predict higher population centers will be more affected than smaller cities.
The University of Pennsylvania and the company OpenAI tell us educated white-collar workers earning up to $80,000 a year are the most likely to be affected by workforce automation.

Agricultural jobs, mining and manufacturing are the least exposed to AI, according to reports, while jobs like IT, are the most exposed. Jobs that use "programming and writing skills" are more closely aligned to ChatGPT’s capabilities.
Forbes reports the sectors most likely affected are banking and finance, media and marketing, and legal services. If I go back to my first sentence, I might question the trust factor regarding my money, my news and my private legal information. Forbes states manufacturing and factory workers, agriculture, and healthcare will be the least affected.

MIT and Boston University expect AI to replace two million manufacturing workers by 2025. Much of the emphasis is on productivity and automation of high risk jobs. This seems a contradiction in the report that manufacturing is one of the least affected sectors.

“A Chinese factory in Dongguan City replaced 90% of its workforce with machines, resulting in a 250% increase in productivity and an 80% decrease in defects. A job that took 650 human workers to complete now takes about 60 robots and 60 humans, the company claims.”

Most small farms don’t produce enough profit to invest money in machines to automate. Small family farms make up 98% of all farms and operate half of the country’s farm land.

Automation in healthcare is expected to be in administrative tasks like paperwork. Accuracy and privacy are always an issue even with these tasks. An Oxford University report predicts medical transcriptionists, medical records, medical secretaries and health information technicians are the most likely jobs to be automated, not actual providers. This includes mental health. The Washington Post failed to create an AI version of the psychologist, Sigmund Freud. Hmm, nothing could go wrong there.

PC Magazine predicts the 10 jobs that will disappear are:

  1. Accountants
  2. Content Moderators
  3. Legal Assistants
  4. Proof Readers
  5. Traders
  6. Transcribers
  7. Graphic Designers
  8. Customer Service
  9. Soldiers
  10. Writers

Imagination, empathy, compassion, understanding, and courage are needed for many of these jobs.  AI is lacking in these attributes. Yes, repetitive tasks can be a great fit for AI. It seems proofreading would be the perfect example. But, would AI understand the nuances in a piece of writing? Could AI write something that touches the heart?
A member of the current administration once remarked that people losing their jobs should learn to code. Well, AI is perfectly situated for that job. But who will check the results?

The example of soldiers is disconcerting. Of course we all accept that drones are useful in many situations where human beings can be shielded from risk. But, will AI use common sense and courage on the battlefield? Does automation of war make it easier to wage war?

Many of the leaders in this field have asked the United States Congress to weigh in with regulation and to establish a pause on AI until some of the potential dangers can be assessed. As with many inventions, what can be used for good, can also be used for evil.

Okaloosa County is one of two districts in Florida offering AI courses. The goal is to equip students to pursue this curriculum academically or go straight into the workforce. Often with advances in technology, ethical issues are usually addressed after the issues arise instead of proactively beforehand.

In economic development, we strive to facilitate relationships and quality of life. Much of this is in the creation of jobs. How will AI affect economic development initiatives? Maybe someone will ask ChatGPT.