Revealed: The workers who will work less as AI takes off

Workers in many industries face disruption from AI, but there is a silver lining.

Workers in many industries face disruption from AI, but there is a silver lining. Photo: TND

Administrators will be among the workers facing the biggest changes as the rise of artificial intelligence drives a “short fuse, big bang” shift in workplaces that will require them to work less.

Figures published on Monday by leading consultancy Deloitte Access Economics shows almost a quarter of the economy will be disrupted by tech like ChatGPT, which is increasingly being used by the next generation of workers for everything from writing emails to drafting reports.

Industries like professional services, media, information technology, finance and education will be the most heavily disrupted as so-called “generative AI” takes off, Deloitte experts predicted.

Jobs dominated by administration, communications and creative tasks are particularly ripe for automation, but these workers may also enjoy a faster shift to a four-day work week as a result.

Deloitte Access Economics’ lead tech partner John O’Mahony said the use of AI in workplaces will mean professionals in many industries won’t need to work as much in the coming decades.

He said workers currently using the latest AI tools are saving about five hours a week right now.

“The commentary so far this year has focused on the idea that entire jobs will go,” he said.

“But instead what we’re finding is that it’s actually just certain tasks, particularly routine tasks, that can be done by these new tools.

“These new generative AI tools are helping people do their jobs better and quicker.”

The start of big changes

Artificial intelligence has been a key part of modern industry for more than a decade now, but recent advancements in the technology that has opened up its use for a range of communication and creative tasks has driven a global gold rush among the world’s largest tech companies.

US-based giants like Google and Microsoft have been at the forefront alongside a firm called OpenAI, which developed ChatGPT and has since grown into a multibillion-dollar company.

Deloitte’s report, which also included a survey of 2550 workers across 18 industries, found that almost one-third of workers are already using generative AI in their jobs, though two-thirds also said their manager doesn’t know about it yet.

Just 9.5 per cent of large Australian businesses with more than 200 workers have officially adopted the latest AI tech in their businesses – that figure drops to 1.4 per cent for all firms.

That’s quickly changing though, with a separate survey of small business owners on Monday published by Peninsula Global finding one-third of bosses already have replaced or plan to replace some of their workforce with AI.

More than half of employers surveyed said they believe AI could reduce the number of people they employ, with tasks like administration, creative writing and communications being key initial applications.

Deloitte analysis indicates administration jobs face the greatest initial disruption from the tech, with anywhere from half to as much as 90 per cent of such jobs set to be partially taken over by AI across most industries.

Mr O’Mahony said tasks like summarising reports, putting together business spreadsheets and generating copy for marketing are current applications for the latest AI tools.

But other possibilities are likely to emerge over the next three years as managers increasingly adopt the technology instead of just workers experimenting with tools like ChatGPT in the office.

“You still need workers who can understand data and verify the veracity of things,” Mr O’Mahony said.

“But having these tools working alongside means workers save time.”

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