Embracing AI could be key to saving your job, instead of losing it

The rapid development of generative artificial intelligence over the past year has fuelled debate over the possibility technology may put humans out of work.

But experts say only people who refuse to work with AI will be left in the dust.

Predictive AI has been common for years, analysing information to do everything from optimising internet search results to suggesting tunes on music streaming platforms.

But some see the latest leap forward in AI as a threat given the technology can now use data to generate content or perform more complicated tasks. Some industries already use it to write news articles or staff drive-through windows.

Nicholas Holland, software company HubSpot vice-president of product and general manager of marketing, told TND it wasn’t the first time rapid technological shifts have had the potential to make jobs obsolete.

He referenced the uprisings in the early 1800s from Luddites, who protested against textile machinery that would replace their labour.

“You go back and you ask yourself, ‘Was it wrong to take their jobs?’ Probably not,” Holland said.

“But does it change how painful it was for them? No, not even in the least.

“What we have to really look for now is … from a society standpoint, how do we give people the opportunity to change and adapt?”

Fears linger, but adaptation necessary

SurveyMonkey data presented at HubSpot’s annual Inbound conference in September showed 64 per cent of American workers surveyed don’t use AI at all in their jobs.

Meanwhile, 26 per cent use it to help but don’t think it’s necessary, and 8 per cent said using AI was a necessary part of their role.

Despite the low uptake, 32 per cent of Americans aged 18-24 are worried AI will soon make their job obsolete.

Although the figure drops as age brackets climb, the concern lingers, and is more prevalent for people on lower incomes and who identify as a minority.

Holland said change was natural, and adaptation was an extension of that.

“It’s a little bit of an oversimplification, but if you started at a company today, [in] 2023, and they told you to work on a typewriter and mail all of your correspondence, that would be super weird,” he said.

“I think that’s where we are with AI, in that it really does a lot of nice things to make you more efficient. But you wouldn’t necessarily say that is going to replace jobs. It just means you have a whole bunch of new skills to learn.”

Education needed in age of AI

An IBM Institute for Business Value report found executives estimated 40 per cent of the workforce would need to reskill due to AI and automation over the next three years.

Aaron McEwan, vice-president of research and advisory at tech research firm Gartner, previously told TND many workers have already taken it upon themselves to use AI tools to improve their productivity and performance.

At the Inbound conference, HubSpot co-founder and chief technology officer Dharmesh Shah said AI had the power to transform jobs for the better.

But Shah – an investor in OpenAI – said workers should investigate what AI tools they could use, try it out, and integrate what suits into their workflows – and use it to expand on their work in a way their current skill base might not otherwise make possible.

“Let’s say you’re a developer, like me, and have always wanted to do some design stuff, or you’re a copywriter that wants to launch full campaigns, or you’re a salesperson and want to strategise like a CEO – AI can help push the frontier of what’s possible for you,” he said.

Holland acknowledged some workers have already been laid off in favour of AI, but he said such moves were “premature”.

He said AI was likely to become less of a worker, and more of a “peer and a collaborator”.

“Literally, if you’ve ever used AI, it’s not replacing anyone’s job fully; it’s hard to get a final product out. It requires a lot of collaboration between the machine … and the human,” he said.

“There will be a point where I do believe AI will basically become better than us at almost all aspects. And I think that, I don’t get mad at a bulldozer because it can lift thousands of pounds [kilos] more than me, I just use the bulldozer, and I’m thankful for it.”

The New Daily attended Inbound courtesy of HubSpot

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