Tinkering with ChatGPT, workers wonder: will it take my job?

Tinkering with ChatGPT, workers wonder: will it take my job?

Tinkering with ChatGPT, workers wonder: will it take my job?

In December, the staff of the American Writers and Artists Institute — a 26-year-old organization for writers — realized something big was happening.

The latest edition of ChatGPT, a “great language model” that leverages the Internet to answer questions and perform tasks on command, was just released. His abilities were amazing – and squarely in the bailiwick of people who generate content, like ad copy and blog posts, for a living.

“They are horrified,” said Rebecca Matter, president of the institute. Over the holidays, she rushed to host a webinar on the pitfalls and potential of new artificial intelligence technology. More than 3,000 people signed up, she said, and the overall message was cautious but reassuring: writers could use ChatGPT to complete their tasks faster and advance to higher-level roles in content planning and search engine optimization.

“I think it’s going to minimize copy-abbreviated projects,” Ms Matter said. “But on the other hand, I think there will be more opportunities for things like strategy.”

OpenAI’s ChatGPT is the latest advancement in a steady march of innovations that have offered the potential to transform many professions and eliminate others, sometimes in tandem. It is too early to count the assets and the threatened ones, or to assess the overall impact on labor demand and productivity. But it seems clear that artificial intelligence will impinge on work in different ways than previous waves of technology.

The positive view of tools like ChatGPT is that they could be complements to human labor, rather than replacements. However, not all workers are optimistic about the potential impact.

Katie Brown is a grants writer in suburban Chicago for a small nonprofit focused on addressing domestic violence. She was shocked to learn in early February that a trade association of grant writers was promoting the use of artificial intelligence software that would automatically fill in parts of an application, simply requiring the human to tweak before submitting.

The platform, called Grantable, is based on the same technology as ChatGPT, and it markets itself to freelancers who charge per app. This, she thought, clearly threatened opportunities in the industry.

“To me, that’s common sense: which one do you think a small nonprofit will choose?” said Mrs. Brown. “A full-time person with a salary plus benefits or an AI-equipped person you don’t have to pay benefits for?”

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have been operating in the background of many companies for years, helping to evaluate a large number of possible decisions and better align supply with demand, for example. And many technological advances over the centuries have reduced the need for some workers – although each time the jobs created have more than made up for the number lost.

ChatGPT, however, is the first to tackle such a wide range of white-collar workers so directly and be so accessible that people could use it in their own work. And it’s improving rapidly, with a new edition released this month. According to a survey conducted by job search site ZipRecruiter after the release of ChatGPT, 62% of job seekers said they feared that artificial intelligence could derail their careers.

“ChatGPT is the one that made it more visible,” said Michael Chui, a McKinsey Global Institute partner who studies the effects of automation. “So I think that started to raise questions about where timelines might start to be accelerated.”

This is also the conclusion of a White House report on the implications of AI technology, including ChatGPT. “The main risk of AI to the workforce is the general disruption it is likely to cause to workers, whether they discover that their work is newly automated or that the design of their work has fundamentally changed. “, wrote the authors.

For now, Guillermo Rubio has found that his job as a copywriter has changed dramatically since he started using ChatGPT to generate blog post ideas, write first drafts of newsletters, create hundreds of slight variations on ad copy and invoke research on a subject he could write a white paper on.

Since he always charges the same rates to his clients, the tool has simply allowed him to work less. If the copy rate drops, however – which it could, as technology improves – he’s confident he can move into content strategy consulting, alongside production.

“I think people are more reluctant and fearful, with good reason,” said Mr. Rubio, who is in Orange County, California. “You can see it in a negative light, or you can embrace it. I think the biggest takeaway is that you have to be adaptable. You have to be open to embracing it.

After decades of study, researchers understand a lot about the impact of automation on the workforce. Economists, including Daron Acemoglu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have found that since 1980, technology has played a primary role in amplifying income inequality. As unions atrophy, crowding out training and retraining systems, workers without a university education find their bargaining power reduced in the face of machines capable of performing rudimentary tasks.

The advent of ChatGPT three months ago, however, sparked a wave of studies based on the idea that it’s not your average robot.

A team of researchers conducted an analysis showing the industries and professions most exposed to artificial intelligence, based on a model fitted for generative language tools. Topping the list were college humanities professors, legal service providers, insurance agents and telemarketers. Mere exposure, however, does not determine whether the technology is likely to replace workers or simply increase their skills.

Shakked Noy and Whitney Zhang, PhD students at MIT, conducted a randomized, controlled trial on experienced professionals in fields such as human relations and marketing. Participants were given tasks that typically last 20-30 minutes, such as writing press releases and short reports. Those who used ChatGPT completed assignments 37% faster on average than those who didn’t, which is a substantial increase in productivity. They also reported a 20% increase in job satisfaction.

A third study – using a program developed by GitHub, which is owned by Microsoft – assessed the impact of generative AI specifically on software developers. In a test conducted by GitHub researchers, developers tasked with an entry-level task and encouraged to use the program, called Copilot, completed their task 55% faster than those who completed the task manually .

These productivity gains are unlike almost any seen since the widespread adoption of the personal computer.

“It seems to be doing something fundamentally different,” said David Autor, another MIT economist who advises Ms. Zhang and Mr. Noy. “Before, computers were powerful, but they simply and robotically did what people programmed them to do.” Generative artificial intelligence, on the other hand, is “adaptive, it learns and is able to solve problems in a flexible way”.

This is very obvious to Peter Dolkens, a software developer for a company that primarily makes online tools for the sports industry. He has integrated ChatGPT into his work for tasks such as synthesizing bits of code to help colleagues who might take over the project after him and proposing solutions to problems that are blocking it. If the answer isn’t perfect, it will ask ChatGPT to refine it or try something different.

“It’s the equivalent of a very cultured intern,” said Mr Dolkens, who is in London. “They may not have the experience to know how to apply it, but they know all the words, they’ve read all the books and they’re able to go part of the way.”

There is another takeaway from the initial research: ChatGPT and Copilot have the highest the least experienced workers. If true, more generally, it could mitigate the inequality-widening effects of artificial intelligence.

On the other hand, as each worker becomes more productive, fewer workers are needed to complete a set of tasks. Whether this translates into fewer jobs in particular industries depends on the demand for the service provided, and the jobs that could be created by helping to manage and direct AI “Rapid Engineering”, for example. example, is already a skill that those who play around with ChatGPT long enough can add to their resumes.

Given that the demand for software code seems insatiable and salaries for developers are extremely high, it seems unlikely that increased productivity will keep people out of the field.

However, it won’t be the same for all professions, and Dominic Russo is pretty sure it won’t be the case for his own: writing calls to pharmacy benefit managers and insurance companies when they reject prescriptions for expensive drugs. He’s been doing this job for about seven years and gained expertise with only on-the-job training, after studying journalism at university.

After ChatGPT came out, he asked her to write an appeal on behalf of someone with psoriasis who wanted the expensive drug Otezla. The result was good enough to only need a few edits before submitting.

“If you knew what to prompt AI, anyone could do the job,” Russo said. “That’s what really scares me. Why would a pharmacy pay me $70,000 a year, when they can lay off the technology and pay people $12 an hour to run prompts there? »

To try to protect himself from this possible future, Mr. Russo has developed his side business: selling pizza from his home in southern New Jersey, a business he says will not be disrupted by artificial intelligence.



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