The Evolution of the Workplace in the Age of AI

Did you know that 60% of today’s workers are employed in occupations that didn’t exist during World War 2? If you could time travel to 1940 and ask somebody what a Web Designer, Scrum Master, Digital Overlord or Database Ninja did for a living, you would have been met with blank stares.

Over the last 80 years, technology has had a profound impact on how people work. The introduction of the personal computer into the workplace permanently changed how businesses and organizations operate, and thanks to developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) like Chat-GPT we are currently on the verge of another transformative shift.

Artificial Intelligence and automation, in general, could create many types of new occupations that we can’t imagine yet – just like the personal computer did. While this process unfolds many workers are at risk of losing employment as AI gains a foothold in business since new work-related technology almost always arrives with a cost.

Looking back, we can see that it was inevitable that entire occupations like switchboard or elevator operations would be lost due to technological advances. The impact on individual workers would have been traumatic in many cases as those impacted scrambled to find new jobs or careers.

A report from Goldman Sachs estimated that AI capable of content generation could do a quarter of all work. The occupations most at risk for AI-related disruption include customer service, creative, and administrative roles. We want to look for signs that short-term chaos will lead to more opportunities for workers down the road, and there may be plenty of hope in that regard, but that optimism comes with a caveat. Many of the new jobs that will be created by AI are unknown as of now. Also, many of the ones that are available now, such as Machine Learning Specialists or Data Analysts, require a suitable set of coding and digital skills.

The other part of the equation is that for many workers, AI has the potential to help make people more productive and more satisfied with their job. AI will cause a profound shift in the labour market. By developing our fluency with the technology, we can prepare ourselves for new opportunities and minimize the risk of career disruption.