Young workers grapple with the future of artificial intelligence and worry about being replaced by technology

Artificial intelligence is a constant focus of Zachary Evans, an investment researcher at Morningstar Research Services in Chicago.

Our company talks about it a lot,” Evans said. It seems like every headline I read is about AI and technology and its destructive power.

Workers like Evans, 25, have had a new set of work-related concerns since ChatGPT’s release in November 2022.

The long-standing fear of being replaced by technology has risen and is now being felt by young workers. A Gallup poll conducted in August found that 22 percent of US workers fear technology will make their jobs obsolete. Although the fear is typically associated with older workers, 28% of 18-34 year olds are worried about being replaced by technology, an 11% jump from 2021.

Artificial intelligence is a general term for machines or computers that model human intelligence to complete tasks normally performed by humans. Artificial intelligence is already present in many people’s daily lives in voice assistants such as Siri or Alexa and many customer service chatbots. Some generative AI algorithms, which generate original content, have passed the SAT and bar exams.

Because generative AI can create content, process information, and analyze data, it has the potential to automate or assist with tasks in a number of areas. But its skill level is limited and its output usually requires human supervision.

Investment researcher Zachary Evans, 25, said AI is a common topic of discussion or concern for many workers.

Many researchers have tried to determine how artificial intelligence will affect the workforce. Goldman Sachs estimated in March that up to 300 million jobs could be replaced or lost by artificial intelligence, a number roughly the size of the population of the United States. Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in a report in August that nearly 4,000 jobs will be cut due to AI this year.

On October 30, President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing new standards for artificial intelligence to promote safety, privacy and equality, among other goals.

Acknowledging the dangers of increased workplace surveillance, prejudice and job displacement for workers, he ordered the development of best practices to reduce these harms. The executive order also calls for more research into the potential effects of artificial intelligence on the labor market.

Career coach Tara Perman said clients never brought up AI until about two years ago. Now it’s something that comes up regularly, whether it’s artificial intelligence being used as a tool to help customers or concerns about job stability.

“This idea of ​​choosing a career for stability is what every one of my clients is talking about right now,” said Perman, who works at Ama La Vida Coaching in Chicago. People feel that if I choose this job, how many years will I still be in this job?

Head shot by Tara Perman.

Career coach Tara Perman said she’s seen more clients bring up AI as a concern in recent years.

Brian Seegmiller, a finance professor at Northwestern University, says one reason younger workers feel more threatened by AI is that they tend to choose jobs that involve more technology and data.

Seegmiller co-authored a study published in December that showed a significant pattern of job losses is what they described as skill displacement. New technologies and tools change the way things are done, and workers must learn new skills.

He said that AI can’t do everything that humans can do, but a lot of the things it’s really good at are things that some people might be able to use as tools. This requires people to adapt and learn to use AI to complement their skills, and if they can’t do that, employers may want people who can.

Headshot by Brian Seegmiller.

Bryan Seegmillers research shows that older workers and more skilled workers tend to be more at risk when new technologies are introduced.

South Loop resident Hannah Kim said the AI ​​was really shocking at first, but she’s gotten more comfortable with it.

Kim, who graduated this year with a degree in computer science and is looking for work, said he expects some jobs to disappear over time, but overall, the number of opportunities will remain the same.

As an industry, it’s hard to have such rapid changes in such a short period of time, Kim said.

He expects AI to have a profound impact on work.

Jordan Johnson Woynicki, 24, uses artificial intelligence in his day-to-day accounting and auditing work at Ernst & Young. This, he said, has allowed him to focus more on client relationships.

That’s been a big help in my opinion because it helped streamline some of the processes, it helped make sure that I didn’t have to be an expert in some areas,” Johnson Voynicki said.

He said the introduction of AI might affect some outsourcing teams that do manual work, but he doesn’t think it will affect most jobs at the audit firm.

“It’s more of our work than sitting in a corner crunching numbers or looking at codes or different types and focusing it more on the customer relationship,” he said. There’s always that human interaction, but I think some aspects of the mundane might be best served by computers or artificial intelligence.

Interpersonal interactions are one area where humans are surpassing artificial intelligence. Focusing on these areas can help workers keep their jobs, Perman and Siegmiller said.

Perman encourages his clients to focus on skills such as creativity, problem solving and strategic thinking.

Sig Miller added that communication skills and working well with teammates are also among the things that AI has trouble with.

What comes back again and again, he said, is expertise and being human.


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