Experts agree we are only at the beginning of the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution. With complex computer algorithms driving marketing tools, completing administrative tasks, developing computer code, and now even creating art, workers everywhere fear their jobs will be next on the chopping block.
The news cycle has become filled with sensationalist tabloid headlines and alarming op-eds proclaiming the demise of the knowledge worker is imminent.
It is tempting to dismiss this as misplaced technological panic, yet it may be too early to shrug off the threat. Just how concerned should professionals be about the amount of AI-dominated jobs just around the corner?
A recent paper from Goldman Sachs predicted AI might erase 300 million jobs worldwide over the next decade. Moreover, the study suggested that two-thirds of US professions are already exposed to AI-fueled automation.
Some Americans’ livelihoods are already made obsolete by their machine counterparts.
According to Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, almost 4,000 people in the US tech sector lost their jobs in May alone due to artificial intelligence. The Chicago-based outplacement firm’s monthly report on corporate layoffs listed AI as a cause of job loss for the first time.
This article will look at industry predictions for automated work and consider how professionals may ready themselves for the tectonic shift change.
Time to Panic?
Beyond the dire predictions that experts and tech tycoons propagate, how do regular workers feel about the changes?
Approximately half of employees are afraid they will be replaced by AI, according to a recent Microsoft-commissioned survey that polled over 30,000 global workers on the topic. The survey also found 82% of leaders say their employees will need new skills to prepare for the growth of AI.
The pressure is on. Already we see chatbots and intelligent virtual agents popping up in customer service pipelines. Customers may never again get what they desperately want – to speak to an actual human.
Yet higher-skilled professionals cannot afford to rest easy — they are in the cross hairs too.
One recent Princeton study quantitatively ranked hundreds of professions by their exposure to AI disruption – legal services and accountancy came out at or near the top.
There are already AI programs that can pass parts of a bar exam.
As for accounting, recently, UAE-based firm Virtuzone launched what it claims is the world’s first AI-powered corporate tax assistant. Meanwhile, computer developers in Canada have launched similar tools. These algorithms also assist ordinary workers in optimizing their ideal federal income tax bracket while offering better strategies to reduce taxes for high-income earners.
Whether these platforms could entirely replace tax accountants remains to be seen. Yet their automation could considerably alter the nature of their work and remake the industry.
While AI may induce fear among some workers, there is another way to view the apparent threat.
The technology has the potential not so much to eliminate human jobs as much as make them much easier. Algorithms could accelerate output, streamline processes, and ultimately free human workers up to engage in greater creativity and, when needed, exercise their emotional intuition and well-reasoned judgment.
As Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella says, “This new generation of AI will remove the drudgery of work and unleash creativity. There’s an enormous opportunity for AI-powered tools to help alleviate digital debt, build AI aptitude, and empower employees.”
AI is already leading to a burst of productivity for solopreneurs and freelancers.
The media already abounds with stories of AI-powered success stories. Lawyer-cum-content creator Kristen Walters, for instance, leveraged AI to double her income within one year. Walters leverages advanced tools like Jasper.AI to seamlessly generate scripts for her online courses, create outlines for e-Books, and expand her repertoire of digital products, thus bolstering her pipeline. This way, she has streamlined her creative endeavors and boosted her productivity to generate even more residual income.
While these examples may inspire individuals, from a broader economic perspective, there is a more profound question of which group of people will benefit from AI and how it will impact society.
As think tank director Dean Baker points out, computers were once considered job destroyers but have instead become indispensable tools for humans at work. The economist speculates that, rather than mass layoffs, AI may unleash a new era of high economic growth similar to the post-World War II boom. With the right policy settings, regulators could ensure a more equitable distribution of the resulting prosperity than in recent technological booms.
Technological breakthroughs always bring disruption, and AI is no different. Predicting where this revolution will lead us is impossible in this ever-evolving landscape. However, by going the extra mile to adapt and learn new skills, knowledge workers can harness the potential of these advancements to their advantage. Such is the reality of life in the modern workforce, where change itself is the only constant.
Josh is a financial expert with over 15 years of experience on Wall Street as a senior market strategist and trader. His career has spanned from working on the New York Stock Exchange floor to investment management and portfolio trading at Citibank, Chicago Trading Company, and Flow Traders.
Josh graduated from Cornell University with a degree from the Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management at the SC Johnson College of Business. He has held multiple professional licenses during his career, including FINRA Series 3, 7, 24, 55, Nasdaq OMX, Xetra & Eurex (German), and SIX (Swiss) trading licenses. Josh served as a senior trader and strategist, business partner, and head of futures in his former roles on Wall Street.
Josh's work and authoritative advice have appeared in major publications like Nasdaq, Forbes, The Sun, Yahoo! Finance, CBS News, Fortune, The Street, MSN Money, and Go Banking Rates. Josh currently holds areas of expertise in investing, wealth management, capital markets, taxes, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and personal finance.
Josh currently runs a wealth management business and investment firm. Additionally, he is the founder and CEO of Top Dollar, where he teaches others how to build 6-figure passive income with smart money strategies that he uses professionally.