ViewPoint - Have there been any jobs actually lost to AI?

 The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the job market has been a topic of significant debate and concern, with many questioning whether AI is actually leading to job losses. While the narrative often focuses on the potential for widespread unemployment, the reality is more nuanced.

I asked this query in Reddit's Futurology subeddit last week and got nearly 200 responses that were polarized in two camps 

  • The numbers are heavily under reported

#vs

  • Do you honestly believe that most companies would openly admit they are replacing people with AI?  Publicly traded companies would in fact be bragging about this.


A summary of the top anecdotal Responses include:

Individual IT Developers

  • My team uses chatgpt extensively. **Mostly for code** but all kinds of other stuff too. We’re hiring less people. We have a hiring freeze right now, and 8 people just got let go. My department is shrinking. Yet, productivity is up…hmm, wonder how that’s possible…?
  • Me + ChatGPT replaces like 3 or 4** of me from a couple years ago. And it’s better working this way too, far less stress pouring over documentation and it’s super rewarding to be so productive with such little effort.
  • It's a tool to **produce boilerplate or check for details you missed,** among other things. No one is relying on the code any more than you would for a junior dev, which is the role it is essentially replacing

Customer service agents

  • Mostly AI's these days that will route to a actual person if absolutely necessary. There are other jobs that are machine automation adjacent, like postal address identification that is almost entirely automated at this point.
  • Many, many industries are now **hiring people at crap wages to train AI** to do their jobs for them.
  • The managers I’ve talked to running teams in low level sales and customer support roles have mandated that their teams begin using AI to **“make their workload more efficient”
  • I work for a hospital network doing EMR data management and reporting. We have been implementing **AI to help remove a lot of manual processes** in chart review mainly for billing purposes. We are certainly doing it to capture more revenue but it will also cost some people their jobs as we are automating the entire process. We have also created jobs to manage the AI. Certainly won't be a 1:1 though and more and more jobs will be eliminated and less created.

Creative folks/Gig workers

  • I would **hire designers before for logos, designs, and images**, not anymore. Same for writers and content creators, they are getting replaced.
  • Yeah my brother works for a video gaming website and he said knows people at other companies that have been laid off and replaced with **AI writing the articles**, then they just have a couple of editors that review and tweak them before they are published.
  • A writer friend of mine used to **ghostwrite memoirs**. The company who hired him (and others) to do that is now using AI for most of it and only using humans to clean up what the AI has written.

Indeed, there have been instances where AI has contributed to job displacement. Industries that rely heavily on routine and repetitive tasks have seen the most noticeable effects. For example, manufacturing and assembly lines, where robots and automated systems have replaced human labor, have experienced job reductions. Similarly, in the retail sector, automated checkout systems and inventory management technologies have decreased the need for cashiers and stock clerks. 

I am suspecting Indian IT is following a similar, fragmented approach - a few GOOD developers are using these tools for personal productivity, while a vast majority are just sitting on the fence.

While AI has led to job losses in certain sectors, it is also driving job creation and transformation in others. The challenge lies in managing this transition, ensuring that workers can adapt to new roles, and leveraging AI to enhance rather than diminish human potential. The future of work in the age of AI will depend on our ability to balance technological advancement with inclusive and forward-thinking employment strategies.

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