Saying Artificial Intelligence (AI) has changed everything is an understatement. The way we search for things on the internet, how we consume media, and eventually it will even be the go to (some people are already there) on how we problem-solve. I wouldn't be surprised if next year a study reports that phone scrolling was down in 2023 because so many people were using AI at their desks. Although AI has produced some of the most exciting pieces of content and capabilities this year, this rapid development has led to a common concern: Will AI replace human jobs, leaving many unemployed? This isn't an article debating that or even going into that complex subject.
First and foremost, no one can tell you if your anxiety towards anything is unwarranted. Anxiety regarding AI and its impact on jobs is both natural and understandable given how quickly it has come and how loud the noise has been about it. It's a significant change, and you aren't alone. According to a Forbes advisory survey, 77% of Americans are concerned that AI will cause job loss in the next year. That same article later states that "The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2020 Jobs Report predicted that 85 million jobs would be displaced by AI—but that 97 million would be created." This would lead us to believe that although the emotion is valid, there is a much more likely scenario that a positive outcome will occur vs. a poor outcome.
Now, it has to be stated that we at Trailblaze believe in the change so much that our President and Founder, Chris Parisis, has called for the development of an AI Task Force in Rhode Island. That doesn't mean that everyone is or should be ALL IN straight away. Like with any change, it can bring about feelings of uncertainty and worry. The reality of AI and its impact on the workforce is much more nuanced than the fear-inducing narrative often presented.
AI as a Job Creator, Not a Job Destroyer
Thankfully we've been able to speak to some really smart people about AI. Dr. Prasanta Pal, a prominent figure in the AI industry, shed some light on this topic of the workforce during episode 04 of the AI Wave podcast, "From Noise to Clarity: Unveiling the Clean Future of AI with Dr. Pal". His insights offer a refreshing perspective that may help alleviate the anxiety surrounding AI and its potential impact on our jobs. Here is a bit of what he helped us realize.
Dr. Pal firmly believes that AI will not replace jobs but rather create new ones, requiring different skill sets. He highlighted that AI is designed to automate mundane and repetitive tasks, allowing humans to focus on areas where they truly excel: creative problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making skills that AI cannot replicate. Dr. Pal sees AI as a tool to enhance human efficiency and productivity, leading to economic growth and job creation, not job loss.
"AI will create new jobs. But, we will have to transform our schools to help everyone become adaptable, lifelong learners in order to take advantage of the opportunities that await us in this new world." - Dr. Pal
Here are some things to think about that might help manage these anxieties:
Stay Informed & Embrace Lifelong Learning
Knowledge is power. The more informed we are about AI, the more prepared we will be to plan our future in the workforce. Despite the fast pace of AI advancements, taking time to understand the technology can help us see it as an opportunity rather than a threat. Sure, we could use a tech startup-turned-billionaire person as an example here but they are so unrelatable and have so much more luck than anyone would admit.
Instead, to illustrate this point, let's consider the character of Jess Mariano from "Gilmore Girls." Good ole brooding Jess wasn't the most tech-savvy character, but he was arguably the most intellectually curious and biggest lover of learning in the series next to unsung hero Paris Geller.
Now, really think about his story arc and who he was when he showed up in contrast to who he was at the end of the series. Jess' journey throughout the series demonstrates one of the most positive and significant transformations. Despite his rocky start, he becomes one of the most successful characters in the series, showcasing his adaptability and resilience. Out of all the well educated people in the series, he's the one who ends up publishing a novel, running his own independent book publishing press, and, arguably, achieving the most personal growth.
He transforms from a rebellious teenager who struggles with school into a successful adult who is not only well-read, but also manages to leverage his passion for literature into a career. This adaptability extends beyond his professional life to his personal relationships, where we see him mature and develop deeper emotional intelligence. See, isn't Jess more relatable?
In a world increasingly influenced by AI, Jess would probably be in the group of people initially calling it a sham and boast about the significance of things that are older being better, but we all know that wouldn't last long with the new Jess. He would definitely take the initiative to learn about it so he could form his own opinions. His inquisitive nature would drive him to read about AI, understand its implications, and possibly even explore its practical applications. Of all the characters, Jess would give the most well informed and untarnished insight into the effects that AI will have on the workforce.
Yes, things are moving fast and it's ok if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed. We are just encouraging to take a page out of Jess's book and consider approaching AI with curiosity, resilience, and a readiness to learn to turn this into a potential opportunity. Leaning in, and embracing these changes, rather than fearing them, can lead to professional and personal growth.
Recognize AI's Limitations
Despite having amazing capabilities, AI isn't perfect and certainly can't replicate human creativity and emotional intelligence. Simply put, it doesn't really understand nuance and has no experience to actually be called upon when making decisions. Machines and systems can only do what humans instruct them to do; they lack the ability to create original content and express empathy. The machine is useful because you make it useful. Remember this next time you feel uneasy about a new advancement in AI.
To further drive home this point, let's look at Leslie Knope from "Parks and Recreation." Who wouldn't want a Leslie Knope working in their town or as a mentor? Her relentless optimism, creative problem-solving, and emotional connection to her work are distinctly human traits that AI can't replicate and certainly cannot replace. But can you imagine an episode if Leslie completely understood how to write prompts and use AI to assist her?
She would put on the greatest Pawnee Harvest Festival ever! She'd probably use AI to quickly process and analyze historical attendance data, parking needs, and food preferences, saving a ton of hours. This would leave Leslie extra time to concentrate on the creative vision of the festival and already have arguments ready against every combative lovable townsperson. Likewise, for her successful campaign for City Council, AI could handle the bulk of demographic analysis and voter behavior predictions. This would allow Leslie to focus on crafting her message, engaging with constituents, and making strategic decisions based on the data provided by AI.
In both scenarios, AI doesn't replace Leslie's passion and creativity; instead, it becomes a powerful tool she uses to achieve her objectives more efficiently. AI isn't a threat to Leslie Knope, Leslie Knope using Ai is a massive threat to all those who want to maintain inaccessible government and political inertia in the great town of Pawnee.
Stand firm on Ethical Implications
This is just as important as the previous points. Especially for those in management positions. It is our collective responsibility to stand firm and advocate for the ethical use of AI wherever it is used no matter how small the oversight might be. Ethical AI guidelines encompass individual rights, privacy, nondiscrimination, and non-manipulation. By ensuring the ethical use of AI, we can create a more inclusive and fair work environment, and ridding anxieties surrounding the misuse of AI in the workplace.
This is possibly the scariest topic and hardest to tackle. That means we need the warm hearted wisdom of Uncle Phil, the original from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," who epitomizes strong ethical values and principles to call on. We aren't going to touch on Uncle Phil using AI in his work as a judge, but instead think about how his kids and Will would absolutely use AI, and you better believe Will would find a way to use it to either make some money or a date. You can imagine that would make for an entertaining episode with everyone starting out on top of the world, but quickly devolve into Will finding himself in some trouble. Uncle Phil would show up to save the day and help his children and the audience digest the ethical lesson of the episode. Just like when Uncle Phil had to teach Carlton that character matters more than winning a game of basketball, or when Uncle Phil stepped in as Will's true father and teaches Will about unconditional love and self-worth beyond Will's biological father.
Without a doubt there are people using AI in a way that we feel is unethical. We have seen the suggestions by people on Twitter to cut out the continuing use of content creators on influencers because through the use of AI they can now make them read the lines just from a text script and still use their likeness without permission. This is obviously not ok and we should all speak up against that. If Uncle Phil were to witness anyone using AI in that way he would intervene right away and firmly emphasize respecting the integrity and rights of others.
By channeling Uncle Phil's commitment to ethics, we can navigate the landscape of AI with a sense of responsibility, ensuring that its development and application align with our core values. No one can be the original Uncle Phil ( R.I.P. James Avery) but we can follow Uncle Phil's example and prioritize ethical implications, fostering a future where AI is used to empower and uplift individuals and communities while maintaining our ethical standards. If that is too confrontational for you then please identify the Uncle Phil's of the world and help expand their voices of reason.
The narrative that AI is going to take your job is simplistic and overlooks the transformative potential of this technology. As Dr. Pal emphasizes, AI is here to complement human work, not replace it! We should always be looking to automate repetitive tasks, that is what we humans have always done, and now AI just allows us to concentrate on tasks that require a distinctly human touch to larger problems. More creativity, critical thinking, and empathy are all things that would certainly make a positive impact on our communities.
Yes, the AI revolution will bring about changes, but these changes are not necessarily a threat. Rather, they're opportunities for growth, learning, and adaptation. Embrace these changes, remain informed, continuously learn, understand AI's limitations, and advocate for its ethical use. By doing so, we can navigate the AI revolution with less anxiety and more optimism, ready to harness its potential for our benefit.