As if there weren’t already enough layoff fears in the tech industry, add ChatGPT to the list of things workers are worrying about, reflecting the advancement of this artificial intelligence-based chatbot trickling its way into the workplace.
So far this year, the tech industry already has cut 5% more jobs than it did in all of 2022, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
The rate of layoffs is on track to pass the job loss numbers of 2001, the worst year for tech layoffs due to the dot-com bust.
As layoffs continue to mount, workers are not only scared of being laid off, they’re scared of being replaced all together. A recent Goldman Sachs report found 300 million jobs around the world stand to be impacted by AI and automation.
But ChatGPT and AI shouldn’t ignite fear among employees because these tools will help people and companies work more efficiently, according to Sultan Saidov, co-founder and president of Beamery, a global human capital management software-as-a-service company, which has its own GPT, or generative pretrained transformer, called TalentGPT.
“It’s already being estimated that 300 million jobs are going to be impacted by AI and automation,” Saidov said. “The question is: Does that mean that those people will change jobs or lose their jobs? I think, in many cases, it’s going to be changed rather than lose.”
ChatGPT is one type of GPT tool that uses learning models to generate human-like responses, and Saidov says GPT technology can help workers do more than just have conversations. Especially in the tech industry, specific jobs stand to be impacted more than others.
Saidov points to creatives in the tech industry, like designers, video game creators, photographers, and those who create digital images, as those whose jobs will likely not be completely eradicated. It will help these roles create more and do their jobs quicker, he said.
“If you look back to the industrial revolution, when you suddenly had automation in farming, did it mean fewer people were going to be doing certain jobs in farming?” Saidov said. “Definitely, because you’re not going to need as many people in that area, but it just means the same number of people are going to different jobs.”
Just like similar trends in history, creative jobs will be in demand after the widespread inclusion of generative AI and other AI tech in the workplace.
“With video game creators, if the number of games made globally doesn’t change year over year, you’ll probably need fewer game designers,” Saidov said. “But if you can create more as a company, then this technology will just increase the number of games you’ll be able to get made.”
Due to ChatGPT buzz, many software developers and engineers are apprehensive about their job security, causing some to seek new skills and learn how to engineer generative AI and add these skills to their resume.
“It’s unfair to say that GPT will completely eliminate jobs, like developers and engineers,” says Sameer Penakalapati, chief executive officer at Ceipal, an AI-driven talent acquisition platform.
But even though these jobs will still exist, their tasks and responsibilities could likely be diminished by GPT and generative AI.
There’s an important distinction to be made between GPT specifically and generative AI more broadly when it comes to the job market, according to Penakalapati. GPT is a mathematical or statistical model designed to learn patterns and provide outcomes. But other forms of generative AI can go further, reconstructing different outcomes based on patterns and learnings, and almost mirroring a human brain, he said.
As an example, Penakalapati says if you look at software developers, engineers, and testers, GPT can generate code in a matter of seconds, giving software users and customers exactly what they need without the back and forth of relaying needs, adaptations, and fixes to the development team. GPT can do the job of a coder or tester instantly, rather than the days or weeks it may take a human to generate the same thing, he said.
Generative AI can more broadly impact software engineers, and specifically devops (development and operations) engineers, Penakalapati said, from the development of code to deployment, conducting maintenance, and making updates in software development. In this broader set of tasks, generative AI can mimic what an engineer would do through the development cycle.
While development and engineering roles are quickly adapting to these tools in the workplace, Penakalapati said it’ll be impossible for the tools to totally replace humans. More likely we’ll see a decrease in the number of developers and engineers needed to create a piece of software.
“Whether it’s a piece of code you’re writing, whether you’re testing how users interact with your software, or whether you’re designing software and choosing certain colors from a color palette, you’ll always need somebody, a human, to help in the process,” Penakalapati said.
While GPT and AI will heavily impact more roles than others, the incorporation of these tools will impact every knowledge worker, commonly referred to as anyone who uses or handles information in their job, according to Michael Chui, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute.
“These technologies enable the ability to create first drafts very quickly, of all kinds of different things, whether it’s writing, generating computer code, creating images, video, and music,” Chui said. “You can imagine almost any knowledge worker being able to benefit from this technology and certainly the technology provides speed with these types of capabilities.”
A recent study by OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, found that roughly 80% of the U.S. workforce could have at least 10% of their work tasks affected by the introduction of learning models in GPT tech, while roughly 19% of workers might see 50% of their tasks impacted.
Chui said workers today can’t remember a time when they didn’t have tools like Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Word, so, in some ways, we can predict that workers in the future won’t be able to imagine a world of work without AI and GPT tools.
“Even technologies that greatly increased productivity, in the past, didn’t necessarily lead to having fewer people doing work,” Chui said. “Bottom line is the world will always need more software.”