How will artificial intelligence impact work?

Despite coding and programming skills being in high demand, industry experts believe ChatGPT and other AI tools may fill some of the gaps soon.

Despite coding and programming skills being in high demand, industry experts believe ChatGPT and other AI tools may fill some of the gaps soon.

Published Jul 5, 2023


Wesley Diphoko

“I think there are going to be jobs that will be lost. I think probably a lot of jobs that are repetitive - cognitive tasks that are repetitive - will be replaced by AI systems.”

This is what Mira Murati, chief technology officer of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, said when she was asked about how artificial intelligence (AI) might impact the future of work.

Which jobs was she likely referring to when she was asked this question?

Industry experts foresee that even though coding and computer programming are in-demand skills, it's possible that ChatGPT and similar AI tools may fill in some of the gaps in the near future. Many agree that tech jobs such as software developers, web developers, computer programmers, coders, and data scientists are “pretty amenable” to AI technologies “displacing more of their work”.

This is partly because advanced technologies like ChatGPT could produce code faster than humans, which means that work can be completed with fewer employees. Even technology companies like OpenAI are already considering replacing software engineers with AI.

While this is true, it’s also important to note that with any technology, history tells us that it always brings other new jobs with it as well.

When Murati was asked about AI’s impact on the future of work, she also added that jobs will be created as a result of introducing AI into the real world. “We know that we need to guide the systems, and we need to teach them to do the things that we want them to do. So I suspect that there’s going to be jobs that are tied to teaching AI systems to be more useful and reliable to us.”

She also envisions generative AI supporting human creativity, rather than replacing it. “I see the systems as really amplifying our own creativity by collaborating with us, collaborating in that initial process … that requires a lot of repetitive work. And then humans can focus more on the higher-level tasks.”

This is what ChatGPT said when asked about its impact on work:

“As an AI language model, ChatGPT has the potential to impact work in many ways. Here are some possible ways:

Customer service: ChatGPT can be used as a customer service agent to respond to customer inquiries and resolve issues. This can free up human customer service agents to focus on more complex issues.

Language translation: ChatGPT can be used to translate text from one language to another. This can be useful for businesses that operate in multiple countries and need to communicate with customers and partners in different languages.

Content creation: ChatGPT can be used to generate content such as product descriptions, marketing copy, and social media posts. This can save time and resources for businesses that need to create a lot of content.

Decision-making: ChatGPT can be used to analyze data and provide insights to help businesses make better decisions. This can be useful in fields such as finance, healthcare, and marketing

Education and training: ChatGPT can be used to provide personalized education and training to employees. This can help businesses improve employee performance and productivity.

Overall, the impact of ChatGPT on work will depend on how it is used and integrated into different industries and organizations. It has the potential to automate certain tasks, improve efficiency, and enhance the overall quality of work.”

This understanding should inform and prepare everyone to prioritise things such as retraining and the reassigning of work. In part, this means that individuals and organisations will have to embark on a process of upskilling and reassigning people to new roles.

It’s inevitable that new developments in tech will have an effect. How society responds, is what will determine the true impact of technology.

* Wesley Diphoko is the Editor-In-Chief of FastCompany(SA) magazine.