How AI threat is putting workers in a quandary about their jobs

Those who embrace AI are expected to benefit, while others are advised to upskill

Non-IT jobs such as manufacturing are expected to undergo a massive transformation because business processes would rapidly change with AI at the core. Bloomberg
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Artificial intelligence is increasingly being integrated into various job functions, raising questions about which roles might be eliminated and what workers need to do to safeguard their careers, analysts say.

Companies are doubling down on harnessing the power of AI by creating top-level roles, such as that of a chief AI officer and chief data and analytics officer, sharpening their focus on the technology to reap its benefits, Arun Chandrasekaran, vice president at research firm Gartner, told The National.

"AI has been a domain with a continued increase in new role creation ... and can benefit a broad suite of roles within the enterprise. Almost all functions within the enterprise will be impacted by AI, although the degree of impact would vary," he said.

"As many of the routine and low-level tasks get automated, it frees up time for tech workers to focus on more value-added tasks that have a direct impact on business value."

Roles such as AI engineers, data scientists and data engineers are becoming sought after. And titles such AI ethicists and AI architects are expected to become more common, Mr Chandrasekaran said.

Those who embrace AI are expected to benefit, and those who behind the curve need to upskill or their services "might get compared with AI-enabled intelligent machines", said Harish Dunakhe, senior research director at the International Data Corporation, said.

"Most jobs that perform repetitive and mundane tasks are getting automated by robotic process automation. However, the intelligent automation is fundamentally questioning the ‘need’ for many tasks and hence many jobs and roles are getting eliminated," he told The National.

A recent report by Goldman Sachs said AI could cost the world the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs across major economies.

The growing adoption of AI technology can help boost global economic growth — annual global gross domestic product could grow 7 per cent in the 10 years after at least half of companies worldwide use AI — and raise labour productivity, the US investment bank's report found.

AI in the workplace is not new — bots being used in customer service roles and self-driving cars are among good examples — but it has significantly gained momentum with the advent of generative AI, which is seen to potentially replace human roles.

The technology — made popular by the OpenAI's ChatGPT — can produce various kinds of data, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, 3D objects and videos. While it takes cues from existing data, it is also capable of generating new and unexpected outputs, according to

Investors poured in more than $4.2 billion through 215 deals into generative AI start-ups in 2021 and 2022 after interest surged in 2019, data from CB Insights showed.


About $586 million in 20 deals during the same period has gone to generative interfaces, it said.

It has also caught the attention of Twitter chief executive Elon Musk, who this week said he plans to develop a new "truth-seeking" generative AI platform to challenge Microsoft-backed ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.

Indeed, AI has already disrupted the workforce, particularly in lower-level roles, but it is still uncertain how it would affect jobs at higher levels, especially in tasks that still require human intervention for operations to function properly and safely.

"AI has taken away the need for many less advanced, [mid-level] roles that can now be automated which has had a big impact on these types of roles, but we are yet to see AI significantly impact more advanced roles," John Armstrong, founder and managing director of Dubai-based recruitment firm JCA Associates, told The National.

"A jumbo jet can fly itself, but still requires a pilot and support crew."

Non-IT jobs across industries such as retail, manufacturing, transportation, oil and gas, finance, logistics and shipping are expected to undergo a massive transformation since business processes would rapidly change with AI being at the core, IDC's Mr Dunakhe said.

We are yet to see AI significantly impact more advanced roles ... a jumbo jet can fly itself, but still requires a pilot and support crew
John Armstrong, founder and managing director of JCA Associates

"Jobs that deal with organisational data to analyse and present relevant information, or identify meaningful insights and patterns from the data might get impacted," he said.

Meanwhile, AI can also prove to be beneficial for a broad range of roles, from customer service, sales, marketing, communications, IT, research and development, finance and human resources, Mr Chandrasekaran said.

This highlights the need for workers to upskill or reskill themselves with AI, or they will face steep competition from the younger AI-equipped workers who do not have the baggage of older skills, he said.

"The skills needed for the future will be radically different than they are today," Mr Dunakhe added.

Updated: April 22, 2023, 3:00 AM