How should we think about impact on jobs – AI-Episode 2 (AI-E2)

The Star runs this piece on job impacts from AI. It is a good piece categorizing impacts on job sectors and a view that young people considering eduction and those in long time roles would do well to to consider retraining and moving to stay ahead. Because rest assure the changes are coming. See it below this post.

However I like to stand back and consider what is going on and understand the unintended consequences of the AI shift over coming decades.

The Star piece focusses (in my view) on the impacts from ChatGPT and its evolution in role replacement. Those roles are at the front end represented by functions of Sales, business code changes, even new application, education and the likes.

Even Sundar Pichai who I quote below takes a fairly narrow view of AI through the lens of Google. In fairness I believe he might be holding his cards close to his vest for both competitive reasons and avoiding forward looking statements. He does make a point of highlighting that the “potential of AI is not something one company can do alone”.

However the decade view still raises systemic impacts and that broader view of AI and the benefits and impacts from AI in this longer view are where I am focussed. The employment roles that will disappear and new ones that appear in this longer view will be the more surprising as I think this through.

For very rudimentary examples I see:

  1. Entire back office roles disappearing as entire processes are incorporated into AI. If we consider the mortgage process, application, assessment, credit scoring, appraisal review, adjudication, documentation, lawyer communication will all be candidates as an integrated process.
  2. shifts in roles from pure customer focus to AI stewardship partly as a result of the first shift
  3. Regulation: these two brief examples raise a host of more controversial points but in any event the likelihood that the proposed top down prescriptive regulation in EU Commission achieving its goals are almost zero in this longer view. It is refreshing to see Rishi Sunak take a more thoughtful balanced view, though I fear his party will not.

Sundar is heading to Europe and regulation is top of his mind. Lets watch that space.

Snippets from a short piece in todays FT from Sundar Pichai – CEO of Google and Alphabet

This year, generative AI has captured the world’s imagination. Already, millions of people are using it to boost creativity and improve productivity. Meanwhile, more and more start-ups and organisations are bringing AI-powered products and technologies to market faster than ever. 

  • We’re approaching this in three ways.
    • First, by boldly pursuing innovations to make AI more helpful to everyone. We’re continuing to use AI to significantly improve our products — from Google Search and Gmail to Android and Maps.
    • Second, we are making sure we develop and deploy the technology responsibly, reflecting our deep commitment to earning the trust of our users. That’s why we published AI principles in 2018, rooted in a belief that AI should be developed to benefit society while avoiding harmful applications.
    • Finally, fulfilling the potential of AI is not something one company can do alone. In 2020, I shared my view that AI needs to be regulated in a way that balances innovation and potential harms. With the technology now at an inflection point, and as I return to Europe this week, I still believe AI is too important not to regulate, and too important not to regulate well. 

Is AI coming for your job? – Toronto Star

These are the workers who will be replaced first, according to experts

Tue May 23 05:00:00 EDT 2023

Automation is coming, and this time it’s for the white collar workers.

Artificial intelligence will likely impact every profession, experts tell the Star, and office workers are first in line. But don’t go looking for a new area of employment just yet.

The rise of powerful generative AI programs like ChatGPT and Midjourney means robots can now write sonnets, draw portraits, code programs and much more in seconds, far outpacing humans in certain cognitive tasks.

But AI can not fully replace a human, at least not yet — it doesn’t have our general intelligence, creativity, morality, judgement and critical thinking skills, experts say. Instead, in the coming years, workers will likely use AI to “supercharge” their potential.

“The way I see it, humans — for now — are not going to be replaced outright,” said Joel Blit, an associate professor studying AI and the economics of innovation at the University of Waterloo. He told the Star that, much like the internet, AI will make us “supercharged, enhanced.”

“But because we’re enhanced, we may not need as many of us to do many of these jobs,” he said.

Jobs most impacted by AI

Among the white collar professions, lower-skilled workers like those in entry level positions will likely be most impacted, no matter their field of work, Blit said. The mundane, repetitive tasks left to this group, like data entry or background research, can be performed far cheaper and faster by a robot.

“It might make it hard for students that are graduating to earn a job and progress up to a (position) where you’re directing the work,” he continued.

On the other hand, the skilled trades and manual workers like plumbers or electricians appear safe from AI, at least for now, Blit said. As robotics research improves, however, these too may be affected.

In no particular order, here are the fields experts say are most likely to be impacted by generative AI, and how workers might need to adapt.


Large language models like ChatGPT show a remarkable ability to write programs, having been trained on massive repositories of code. It’s got many programmers fearing for their jobs, but as long as you’re able to adapt, experts say you’re likely safe.

Blit says a coder equipped with AI is estimated to be up to twice as productive, which could mean half of programmers are no longer necessary. On the flipside, it also means the price of programming may drop in value, potentially driving up demand.

“As each coder becomes more productive through the use of GPT, they’re going to be able to code more in a shorter amount of time. Or in other words, the cost of having a program written for you is going to be half what it was before,” he said.

“Because the cost is lower, there’s going to be increased demand for programming services. So now the question is, is this increased demand going to be” enough to make up for the jobs lost?


Writers of all kinds, including content writers, workers in advertising, journalists and more will likely be affected by ChatGPT, which is capable of generating ideas and reams of text in seconds.

Yet writers, like all other professions, are unlikely to be completely replaced. Anil Verma, a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management studying the impact of AI on employment, said humans would still need to review the AI’s product and weave its information into a compelling narrative.

For example, “as a journalist, ChatGPT can help you a lot,” he told the Star. “It can do background research or summarize information — but you still need to verify the facts and mold it into a story. That’s a job only a trained journalist can do.”

That said, recent studies found ChatGPT can make writing tasks about 60 per cent more efficient, Blit added. Like all other fields, that likely means less need for as many workers.

Finance professionals

A slew of jobs across finance, including financial advisors, accountants, traders and more will likely be augmented by AI, experts say. Many routine tasks, like performing market research, preparing tax returns, analyzing market trends and more can be handled by a robot.

Again, that doesn’t mean everyone will be automated: “You’re still going to have an accountant organizing the general strategy of how to minimize your taxes,” Blit said. “But all the bookkeeping, the actual tax filing, the (mundane tasks) done by lower skilled employees — that’s going to be in the hands of AI.”

Legal workers

Like other fields, much of the daily tasks law industry professionals undergo, like the hours of manual research that goes into every case, can be accomplished in minutes by ChatGPT, Verma said.

“In the old days, you’d have armies of people reading and summarizing hundreds of pages of legal research, and give it to the chief lawyer who would then present it to the court,” he said. “Now with AI, AI can very quickly go through hundreds of documents and prepare a summary along the lines that you want.”

There still needs to be a lawyer to make sense of the information and present it in a compelling case, but “we might not need as many law clerks preparing summaries” and other repetitive tasks, Verma continued.


With AI programs and self-running laboratories being created capable of automating the scientific process, performing simple experiments and generating research papers, some lab workers are feeling increasingly imperilled.

“Not only is AI able to write, it’s able to do many of the things I do,” said Blit. “You can basically give it a bunch of data and tell it to analyze the data, come up with a bunch of hypotheses, test them out and then write a research paper, and it can literally do that.”

“Now, is it good enough to get published in a great journal? Absolutely not, it’s not there yet,” he added, noting there still needs to be a human directing its work. “But it’s really crazy the breadth of things that it can do.”

Customer service

Given AI’s conversational abilities, it’s not a stretch to see it replacing customer-facing workers in retail, food services and more, said Samin Aref, an assistant professor focussed on data science and machine learning at U of T, in an email to the Star.

That said, customers may still prefer to interact with a human representative, Verma noted — we still far outpace AI in terms of interpersonal skills. Instead, we’ll likely have human workers augmented by AI — similar to writing tasks, studies show AI can improve customer productivity by around 60 per cent, Blit said.

Data entry and analysis

Aref added that AI’s ability to scan through countless files of numbers and text means it’s ideal for jobs handling and making sense of great swathes of data.

“ChatGPT is able to do lots of math tasks and data analysis” computations far faster than any human, Blit added. Much of the humans working in this sector could be impacted.


While self-driving cars aren’t here yet, experts say as generative AI advancements speed up, it may hasten all other AI fields as well: “Delivery drivers, truck drivers, and taxi drivers could see changes in their roles as automated transportation systems become more prevalent,” Aref said.

Blit believes “in the next ten years, there’s going to be some significant job losses (in the driving sector). If you include bus drivers, driving jobs make up about 2 per cent of all jobs in North America. That’s big.”

How can I avoid being replaced by AI?

The experts admit now can be a scary time to be working, especially for those about to enter the workforce. But there is also the opportunity to embrace AI and use it to get ahead of the pack.

“Imagine you’ve got two programmers and one of them embraces this technology and becomes twice as productive while the other one doesn’t,” Blit said. “Well, which of the two do you think is going to disappear first?”

Verma added that: “We will all be affected by AI. So to be successful is not so much to worry about your job being obsolete or replaced by a bot, but to figure out which AI those tools are relevant to my job, how I can learn to use them and use it to enhance my performance….

“My advice to people is, look, if your work involves doing something very mundane and repetitious that can be easily replaced by a bot, then you should be learning new skills.”

Kevin Jiang is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star’s Express Desk. Follow him on Twitter: @crudelykevin

Tags #AI #AI-E2 #AI-series #employment-impacts

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