Most jobs affected by AI but critical thinking essential | WARC | The Feed
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Most jobs affected by AI but critical thinking essential
Most workers across industries are likely to see their workplaces affected by the adoption of generative AIs unless they work in manual occupations, according to a new paper estimating the effects of AI on the labour market, with serious implications for advertising.
What’s going on
Artificial intelligence – generative systems like ChatGPT, Dall-e, and Google Bard – all appear to have exploded into the mainstream and are evolving at an incredible rate. But a new a study submitted for review by researchers at OpenAI (the erstwhile non-profit, now the company behind ChatGPT) finds that up to 80% of US jobs will be affected by GPT (language models) for at least 10% of their daily tasks.
Around 19% of workers could see 50% of their daily tasks impacted, often degree-level jobs that tend to be higher paid, across all industries.
“Our analysis indicates that the impacts of LLMs (large language models), like GPT-4, are likely to be pervasive,” the paper states. “While LLMs have consistently improved in capabilities over time, their growing economic effect is expected to persist and increase even if we halt the development of new capabilities today.”
Why it matters
A recent Gartner survey found that nearly half of companies are now drafting policies on the technology’s use in the workplace. And some brands, such as Coca-Cola, have already integrated some of the technology into their work.
Accountability and truth are just a handful of the questions the tech is now asking us to consider. There are other big ones concerning what happens to the structure of societies and economies when we begin to automate traditionally well-paid jobs requiring lots of education.
There are more prosaic lessons to be taken. While the skill of writing or image-making is quickly becoming commodified, the skills of scientific or critical thinking are more likely to retain their worth. As such, the copy and artwork element of advertising may become much quicker to produce, but the critical thinking and problem-solving that leads to it is more likely to continue to be a competitive advantage.
There are some curious findings in this research, despite the headline figure. Notable question marks include the low exposure to GPT-ification of graphic design or of search marketing strategy. The nature and substance of creativity are, likely, due a reconsideration.
Despite this, the tasks of processing information and data, or those of making words and images (publishing), are soon going to look very different. Most industries that don’t require physical work are likely to undergo deep change.
The study looks at the United States’ O*NET database, which standardises the descriptions of 1,016 occupations by breaking them down into tasks. Each task is then judged on whether a GPT-powered system would be able to complete the task in at least 50% of the time while maintaining high quality. It’s not perfect, and the authors acknowledge that most jobs are not simply collections of distinct tasks. It’s worth noting it also comes from OpenAI, which is now commercialising these systems.
- Safe skills: Jobs that require scientific and critical thinking skills are negatively associated with exposure, suggesting they are less likely to be affected.
- Skills under threat: Jobs that require programming and writing skills are more likely to be affected by large language models.
- Education: ‘Individuals holding Bachelor’s, Master’s, and professional degrees are more exposed to GPTs and GPT-powered software than those without formal educational credentials’.
- Industries: At an industry level, information processing, publishing, insurance and data industries are highly exposed, while manufacturers of food, wood products, and support activities for agriculture and forestry are minimally exposed.
Occupations with high (100%) exposure, a selection:
- Web and digital interface designers
- Climate change policy analysts
- Financial quantitative analysts
- News analysts, reporters, journalists
Of occupations that might be of interest to WARC readers (that happen to be included in the O*NET database):
- Public relations specialists: 66.7% exposure
- Survey researchers: 75% exposure
- Creative writers (along with poets and lyricists): 68% exposure
- Search marketing strategists: 14.5% exposure
- Graphic designers: 13.4% exposure
- Writers: 82.5% exposure
Occupations with no exposure, a selection:
- Slaughterers and meat packers
- Waiters and bartenders
Sourced from OpenAI, UPenn, Bloomberg, Coca-Cola
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