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The Rising Influence of AI in the Job Market

Technological advancements continuously redefine the job market landscape, as evident from the impact of automation and robotics, primarily on manufacturing and assembly lines. These advancements have transformed the job environment by causing job displacements, altering job roles, enhancing productivity, and introducing new positions.

Similarly, the relatively new and rapidly evolving artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to have significant impacts on the job market, according to experts. However, the difference lies in the areas of workforce that it is likely to affect. Unlike past technologies, AI is encroaching into office spaces, traditionally occupied by white-collar employees and higher earners, stated Rakesh Kochhar, a senior researcher at Pew Research Center.

AI's potential impact – whether it could gradually change job roles or drastically transform them – remains to be seen, Kochhar added. Essentially, AI is designed to replicate human cognitive abilities, enabling computers and machines to carry out tasks independently.

ChatGPT, an AI chatbot by OpenAI, has stirred a nationwide debate since its public release in November 2022. Millions used this program to write essays, song lyrics, and code, distinguishing it from robots, which generally carry out physical tasks.

According to a new study by Pew, Kochhar found that 19% of U.S. workers are in high exposure jobs to AI. Roles such as budget analysts, data entry keyers, tax preparers, technical writers, and web developers fall in this category. It is unclear whether AI's impact on these jobs would be positive or negative, hence the term "exposure".

Most workers with high AI exposure are women, white or Asian, earn more, and are college degree holders. Job displacement is a possibility with AI's rise, however, new job creation cannot be ruled out, pointed out Cory Stahle, an economist at Indeed.

Conversely, the study reveals that 23% of American workers have low exposure to AI. Jobs such as barbers, dishwashers, firefighters, pipelayers, nannies and child care workers, which involve physical activities that the current form of AI cannot readily perform, fall into this category. The remaining 58% have varying AI exposure.

The fear of job loss due to technology dates back to the Industrial Revolution, as noted by Harry Holzer, a professor at Georgetown University. Historically, the fear has been unfounded to a great extent, as automation often balances job destruction with job creation. However, there are always some workers who are replaced by technology and thus face competition.

AI and future automation have the potential to cause more worker displacement and increase inequality. This could impact jobs ranging from vehicle drivers and retail workers to lawyers, accountants, and health-care workers, Holzer said.

Interestingly, recent Indeed data shows a significant increase in job ads seeking AI-related skills. While still a small proportion of total job ads, there has been a noticeable increase from five years ago, especially in the last year, likely linked to the rise of ChatGPT.

The growth is predominantly seen in two areas: workers developing AI technology and those in creative or marketing roles who use AI tools. The impact of AI on a variety of roles such as marketing, sales, customer service, legal and real estate will be an intriguing area to watch, said Stahle.


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