The past few weeks have been filled with news and fears (well, largely fears) about the impact chatGPT and other generative technologies could have on the workplace. Goldman Sachs predicted 300 million jobs would be lost, while Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk called for AI development to be put on hold (although it wasn’t self-driving development).
Indeed, OpenAI chief Sam Altman recently said he was “a bit scared”, with a sentiment echoed by OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, who recently said that “at a at some point, it will be fairly easy, if you will, to cause a lot of harm.” Indeed, a report from the company itself suggested that “most” jobs will be threatened in some way or another because of their technology.
In a world where most tech companies tend to overestimate the good their products can do, it’s incredible that the generative AI movement is using their hype to propagate doomsday doomsdays instead. It’s a particularly striking juxtaposition because the company has, since its founding in 2015, branded itself as a nonprofit team of humanitarian scientists working for the good of us all.
As Dan Greene, assistant professor at the Information Studies College at the University of Maryland, recently explainthese predictions often use the new tool to “tell one’s own fortune” and “mark a boundary for public debate”.
Hype vs Reality
The warnings about the future of jobs revisit the wave of concern that surrounded the publication of Frey and Osborne’s 2013 paper on the impact of their generation of AI on jobs. Not only have these panting fears failed to materialize, but we are in fact in a period of historically low unemployment.
Indeed, a recent CompTIA report shows that in the past year, the tech industry has seen a notable increase in employment across all states. The sector recorded a net increase of 3.2%, resulting in the addition of more than 280,000 jobs nationally. These promising statistics are a testament to the continued expansion of the tech industry, positioning it as a key contributor to the US labor market.
The report reveals that the technology sector in the United States employs no less than 9.1 million people, covering both technical and non-technical roles. According to the report, Texas has proven to be the frontrunner in tech job creation, registering a commendable addition of around 45,000 positions in 2022. Close behind, California took second place, having added 38 186 tech jobs, while Florida, New York, and Washington state followed with 22,029, 18,487, and 17,962 job gains, respectively. These results underscore the enduring strength of the tech industry in various regions of the United States
feel in control
However, you wouldn’t think the job market was in such bad health if you were just listening to the hype surrounding chatGPT, and this distinction is important for our prospects in the future of work.
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of self-efficacy in personal development. This is backed up by research from the University of Basel, which found that the most important determinant of success in both education and career was one’s aspirations.
In a form of the Pygmalion effect, they discovered that if people believed they could thrive, they were much more likely to do so. This is problematic, as research in deprived communities elsewhere in England has revealed a strong sense of pessimism about the future and their prospects.
Previous research has also highlighted self-efficacy as one of the most important concepts for motivation and behavior change. It is one of the key elements of psychological capital, and has been shown time and time again to have positive effects on a number of personal and professional outcomes.
That’s important, because a recent paper from Brigham Young University revealed that we’re often prone to greatly exaggerate the risk of automation taking over our jobs.
The study reveals that only 14% of workers say they have ever seen a human being replaced by a robot. However, those for whom automation has happened to them feel they are exaggerating the risk of it happening in the economy as a whole by around 300%.
While only around 14% of employees had themselves suffered from automation, these people were much more likely to believe that others had also been replaced by machines. Indeed, these people believed that nearly half of workers had been automated, which compares to a figure of just 29% across the entire sample.
“Overall, our perception of robots taking over is vastly exaggerated,” the researchers explain. “Those who had not lost their jobs overestimated by about double, and those who had lost their jobs overestimated by about three times.”
believe in the future
The apocalyptic narrative that is spreading at the moment also undermines the confidence we can have in the future, which is also crucial for underpinning our self-efficacy. ESSEC research highlights how interconnected our hopes for the future are and our ability to act in ways that benefit us.
Researchers have found that there is a strong link between our aspirations for the future and our willingness and ability to take responsibility for our careers and take preparatory steps to plan for the future, such as building skills, the development of our professional networks, etc. .
In other words, when we have a negative perception of our future, we are less likely to take the necessary steps to truly prepare for whatever the future holds. So even if doomsday predictions are accurate, which I doubt, they risk making people less prepared and less able to adapt if they were to come true.
When it comes to fueling the hype cycle of new technologies, perhaps we should be aware of crying wolf, especially if we really wish to avoid the adaptation challenges posed in past periods of technological upheaval.