In the ever-evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI), a concerning reality is emerging among high-earning knowledge workers – their jobs are being taken away.
Unveiling a series of distressing case studies, The Washington Post sheds light on the impact of generative AI ChatGPT, stating, “ChatGPT has replaced their livelihoods. Now they walk dogs and repair air conditioners,” spotlighting the plight of white-collar professionals in certain sectors.
Among the occupations drawing attention from The Washington Post are marketing and content creation in the realm of social networking services (SNS). Eric Payne (34), residing in Illinois, made the difficult decision to abandon his ten-year career in advertising copywriting. Despite enjoying steady contracts with approximately ten companies, crafting everything from bathroom mat advertisements to compelling website introductions, the tide turned in March when assignments started dwindling.
Payne attributes the sudden slump in his workload to ChatGPT, which severed his “bread and butter” contracts. One of his primary clients terminated their agreement, citing the intention to utilize ChatGPT for all future copywriting needs. The remaining nine clients followed suit. Presently, Payne is pursuing studies at a technical school with the aspiration of becoming a plumber.
Olivia Lipkin (25), a dedicated copywriter in San Francisco, found herself at the mercy of ChatGPT after being the sole wordsmith at a burgeoning tech startup. Alas, as ChatGPT gained momentum, her workload gradually evaporated, leading to her dismissal in April. Lipkin candidly shares, “Whenever ChatGPT was mentioned, an unsettling feeling gnawed at me, and ultimately, I lost my job to AI.”
Across American society, concerns are mounting as white-collar jobs experience a decline in demand due to factors such as the rapid advancement of AI. Traditionally, these worries primarily plagued blue-collar workers affected by automation in factories. However, the rise of generative AI has reshaped this narrative.
In a report released in March, Goldman Sachs, a renowned investment bank, estimated that 18% of global jobs could be supplanted by generative AI, with white-collar professions facing the most significant threat. In contrast, they noted that occupations requiring outdoor work or physical labor are less susceptible to automation.
Eun Sun Molek, a professor at the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, offers insight, stating, “While past automation primarily targeted labor-intensive and repetitive tasks, the current wave poses a direct challenge to creative work performed by highly educated and high-income individuals.”
Although AI has yet to fully replicate human creativity, cost-conscious companies are increasingly turning to AI solutions, accepting minor compromises in quality to achieve substantial cost savings, as reported by The Washington Post.
The companies that terminated their contracts with Payne reportedly made the decision despite being aware that ChatGPT-generated content might lack accuracy and originality, all in pursuit of streamlining expenses. Regrettably, out of the ten companies, only one expressed dissatisfaction with the ChatGPT-generated copy, reaching out to Payne once again.
However, not all companies that replaced workers with AI experienced smooth sailing. Notably, the renowned US technology publication CNET released 77 articles authored by AI, only to discover factual errors, leading to a suspension of AI utilization. Recently, a US lawyer made headlines after submitting ChatGPT-generated cases to the court, only to realize they were entirely fabricated, sparking widespread controversy.
Sara Roberts, a reputable UCLA researcher specializing in digital labor, highlights the potential drawbacks, cautioning, “The costs companies bear due to chatbot errors may, in fact, increase. Hastily adopting AI solutions may lead to hasty judgments for companies seeking quick implementation.”
As the AI revolution continues its march forward, the unsettling predicament of copywriters and other professionals serves as a poignant reminder that technological advancements can come at a significant human cost. The challenges and consequences brought forth by AI require careful consideration as we navigate the evolving landscape of the modern workforce.