Until recently, Dean Meadowcroft held the position of a copywriter in a small marketing department. His responsibilities included crafting press releases, social media posts, and other content for his company.
However, a significant change occurred when his firm implemented an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system late last year. The initial idea was for the AI to work alongside human copywriters, expediting the process and improving efficiency, according to Meadowcroft.
Discontent with AI’s impact on content quality
Regrettably, Mr. Meadowcroft was not particularly impressed with the AI’s output. He felt that it homogenized the writing, making everyone sound mediocre and indistinguishable. Consequently, the content needed to be thoroughly reviewed by human staff to ensure originality and avoid plagiarism.
Speed vs. originality: copywriting efficiency with AI
Despite its drawbacks, the AI demonstrated remarkable speed. Tasks that would typically take a human copywriter between 60 and 90 minutes could now be completed by the AI in 10 minutes or less.
Approximately four months after the AI’s introduction, Mr. Meadowcroft’s team, consisting of four individuals, was unexpectedly laid off. While he cannot be certain, he strongly suspects that the AI was responsible for their replacement.
Job losses and the rise of AI in the workplace
Late last year, OpenAI’s launch of ChatGPT marked the latest wave of AI advancement. With backing from Microsoft, ChatGPT possesses the ability to provide human-like responses to questions and generate essays, speeches, and even recipes within minutes. Other tech giants, such as Google with its launch of Bard in March, are scrambling to develop their own AI systems.
These AI models are trained on the vast ocean of data available on the internet, an amount that would be impossible for any human team to process.
Potential job replacement and uneven impact across sectors
Consequently, concerns arise about which jobs may be at risk due to the rise of AI. A report from Goldman Sachs earlier this year suggested that AI could potentially replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs.
However, the report also highlighted that the impact would not be evenly distributed across the economy. Tasks in administrative and legal professions faced a higher risk, with 46 percent and 44 percent respectively, while construction and maintenance were at a lower risk with only 6 percent and 4 percent respectively.
The dual effect of AI: automation and job creation
The report from Goldman Sachs also emphasized that the introduction of AI could enhance productivity, stimulate growth, and possibly create new jobs. Indeed, there is evidence of this already happening. IKEA announced this month that since 2021, it has retrained 8,500 call center staff to become design advisers. The company now handles 47 percent of customer calls through an AI named Billie. Although IKEA does not foresee any job losses resulting from AI integration, these developments are causing widespread concern.
IKEA’s AI integration: retraining and job security
According to a recent survey by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which polled 12,000 workers globally, a third of them expressed worry about being replaced by AI in their workplaces, with frontline staff being more concerned than managers. Jessica Apotheker from BCG explains that this fear stems, in part, from the unknown.
While over 80 percent of leaders and managers use AI on a weekly basis, only 20 percent of frontline staff do so. This lack of familiarity with the technology contributes to increased anxiety and concern among frontline employees regarding the potential outcomes.
The reality of AI’s impact on employment
Amidst the increasing prevalence of AI systems, it is understandable that individuals have reasons to be anxious. While AI can streamline processes and improve efficiency, there is a valid concern about potential job displacement. It is crucial to recognize the dual effect of AI, where automation may lead to certain job losses but could also give rise to new opportunities and job creation.
As AI continues to advance, understanding its impact and effectively preparing for the changing job landscape becomes increasingly important for both businesses and workers alike.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.