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Charting New Paths: Jobs and Skills in an AI Future 

future of work
In this article

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution is here, and we are all trying to cope with it because the question “What jobs will AI replace” haunts lots of us.

Just look at the graphic below: the searches for AI and ChatGPT have been on a roll for the past few months, according to Google Trends! 

AI and ChatGPT searches in Google trends

Some say that AI will unleash productivity and creativity, some say that it will create more inequality than ever. What’s certain is that the AI market is on the rise. From a market value of $129.28 billion in 2022, its growth is estimated to reach $2745 billion by 2032

Now, let’s talk about some of the uncertainties. Here’s the plan for the current article: 

  • Artificial Intelligence and productivity 
  • How can AI be used in various verticals? 
  • The impact of Artificial Intelligence on jobs and skills 

Artificial Intelligence and Productivity 

Raise your hand if you find it hard to focus and bounce back and forth between tasks, meetings, chat, emails, and social media?  

This is all called “digital debt” and we’ve all been there. There’s so much information out there that it’s so hard to focus. Nearly two in three people (64%) say they struggle with having the time and energy to do their job, as per Microsoft study.  

The same study revealed that among the users of Microsoft 365, a percentage of 57 of the workday is allocated to communication, the rest to creation. 

This takes a toll on productivity. But it seems that AI can come to the rescue. It can be used to: 

  • Help employees lower the volume of repetitive tasks. For this, AI technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) can be used. They can automate end-to-end processes by mimicking human actions. This cuts manual errors, reduces processing time, and improves overall productivity. Companies like UiPath provide such services. 
  • Cut the time spent by employees on low-value activities; 
  • Help employees learn faster; 
  • Help employees collaborate better, 
  • Analyze sales data and identify key customer segments or predict future demand, helping businesses make informed decisions more efficiently; 
  • Cut the time needed to search for information. 

At the end of the day, AI can become the copilot in the workplace. 

But there are some things we should pay attention to. 

Ethical Considerations: AI raises ethical concerns related to privacy and data security. There may be worries about the misuse or mishandling of personal data in AI-driven systems. 

Bias is another ethical concept we need to worry about. For example, if the inputs fed into the algorithm are biased…the results will be biased as well. 

For example, back in 2014 Amazon built a tool to review job applicants’ resumes with the aim of automating the search for top talent. Amazon’s computer models were trained to vet applicants by looking at patterns in resumes sent to the company over a 10-year period. Back then, most of the resumes came from men. They were dominating the industry in the early 2000s. 

Consequently, Amazon’s system taught itself that male candidates were preferable, while women were penalized.  

4 years later, Amazon scraps its AI recruiting tool. 

All these concerns highlight the importance of ethical guidelines, transparency, and accountability in AI development and deployment. 

Overreliance on AI: Another concern is the potential overreliance on AI systems without considering their limitations. Blindly trusting AI recommendations or decisions without human oversight can lead to errors or unintended consequences. It is crucial to strike a balance between leveraging AI for productivity and ensuring human judgment and expertise remain in the loop. 

For example, IBM’s Watson was supposed to revolutionise everything from diagnosis to treatment recommendations. In 2012, IBM closed a deal with Memorial Sloan Kettering (famous cancer center), to train an AI to make treatment recommendations. They wanted to make cancer treatment available to patients all over the world.  

To do that, IBM needed access to huge amounts of data on which to train Watson. They ended up spending $5 billion on health data companies. Watson was supposed to be exposed to the data and to find patterns that no other clinician could see.  

At the end of the day, IBM realized that the data from the US is just not going to generalize to different kinds of patients all the way across the world. Doctors realized that there wasn’t enough data for the program to make good recommendations, because Watson had trouble with the complexity of patient files. 

Watson was retired in 2022. IBM is effectively selling Watson for parts to private equity firm Francisco Partners. 

How Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) Be Used in Various Verticals?   

In the earlier chapter there were 2 use cases of AI given: recruitment and medical advice. 

Let’s go deeper and see how AI changes work across a few verticals: customer services, tourism and fashion. 

AI and customer services 

AI is revolutionising the face of customer care. AI allows companies to deliver more personalised customer experiences, but the human touch is essential for customer success. As I mentioned earlier, AI is the copilot. 

In the customer support activities, AI can be used to: 

  • Optimise wait times, routing, and agent availability; 
  • Automatically classify cases based on predictive analytics; 
  • Create chatbots that deliver knowledge; 

and more. 

Artificial intelligence started making waves in customer care when pressing a number on the phone started to be replaced by the ability to actually speak our needs.  

For example, when I’m trying to reach my internet provider or bank, I can speak my problem. And yes, it doesn’t always work. The bot has some problems with identifying my issues, and oftentimes I end up talking to an operator. But guess what? I somehow feel that an operator is what I need. So, there ‘still some work ahead.  

But AI is definitely helping customer service departments streamline their work. In the meantime, agents can focus on more complex issues. 

What jobs will AI replace in customer service:  

AI might replace humans in customer care, on the long run, because call-centre jobs have huge potential for automation. Oftentimes, the problems agents deal with on the phone are repetitive. AI can come it and automate these issues. On the other hand, the remaining customer care specialists will be tasked with solving problems robots can’t. 

AI and travel 

AI has been used in the travel industry for a while now. But the scale of the AI usage is getting fast and furious. 

  • Airlines are using AI to predict how many passengers will cancel their flights; 
  • AI technology is used to detect fraudulent online bookings; 
  • In Venice, AI is even being used for crowd control; 
  • Online chatbots and voice assistants; 
  • AI is used for guest check-ins in hotels and guest houses; 
  • Companies can use AI for data analysis as well as client sentiment across social media; 
  • Many travel and tourism businesses run on a flexible pricing model based on demand levels, and availability. This means that airlines and hotels can use AI to optimise pricing; 
  • Some airline companies and chain hotels are using face ID to identify passengers; 

When it comes to travel recommendations, tools such as ChatGPT aren’t too reliable. Cases were identified when hotels and restaurants were simply invented… 

AI and fashion 

From design, marketing and sales to supply chain, AI is offering the fashion industry the opportunity to: 

  • Streamline operations; 
  • Increase profits and maximize customer retention; 
  • Reduce waste; 
  • Optimise inventory; 
  • Convert sketches and mood boards into high-fidelity designs; 
  • Enrich product ideation, because AI can create new ideas and variations from past product lines or inspirational imagery; 
  • Generate personalized marketing content based on consumer profiles; 
  • Communicate with clients via chatbots; 
  • Understand consumer sentiment, in-store consumer behavior, and omnichannel data; 

and more. 

According to a McKinsey report, in the next three to five years, generative AI could add up to $275 billion to the apparel, fashion, and luxury sectors’ operating profits. 

Now, let’s move further and look at some practical examples, shall we? 

Example 1: Google’s generative AI shopping features 

On Jun 14th, 2023, Google announced a new virtual try-on feature that uses generative AI (technology which can create content in the form of images, videos and text). Such a feature helps shoppers see how a clothing item folds, clings, or stretches on various body types, and even skin tones. The feature will initially work with women’s tops from brands such as Anthropology, Loft, H&M and Everlane. 

Google is also launching a feature that helps buyers find similar clothing items in different colors or styles, from merchants across the web, using a visual matching algorithm powered by AI. 

AI-generated images

Example 2: Levi’s will begin testing AI-generated clothing models  

Later this year, Levi’s will test AI-generated models for its clothing with the purpose to diversify the online shopping experience. The AI clothing models created will be more body-inclusive, allowing customers to view what a clothing item would look like on a body that resembles their own. 

Example 3: Amazon’s StyleSnap 

StyleSnap analyzes outfit photos and directs users to similar shoppable pieces. You can use the photos Amazon has in its collection for inspiration or upload your own. In just a few clicks, StyleSnap will show you a curated set of options to build your own similar outfit. 

Let me just upload a photo with a hippie look below: 

Shop the Look

Here are the results: 

Amazon using AI

Not bad. The style is indeed hippie, the colors match as well. 

Example 4: Adore Me lingerie uses AI for SEO copywriting 

Lingerie brand Adore Me (recently bought by Victoria’s Secret) is using AI tools to help with SEO-optimised product descriptions. This saves about 30 hours a month on copywriting and has led to the growth of non-branded organic traffic. 

Example 5: Designovel startup that uses AI for trend forecasting and design recommendations 

AI used in fashion

Source 

Designovel is an online platform using AI technology that provides trend search, product recommendation, and design creation technology to fashion companies. Among its customers, Designovel lists Hyundai (back in 2018 they released a hoodie designed by the Designovel AI system) and many fashion brands. 

What jobs will AI replace in the fashion industry: 

Certain jobs are more vulnerable to automation than others in the fashion industry. 

As previously seen, generative AI can replace fashion models as well as some fashion stylists. 

On the other hand, AI can help designers in their creative process. AI won’t act like a competitor but will mostly work in tandem with designers.    

Also, AI might be able to replace some marketing specialists, as well as force some of them to upskill. 

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Jobs and Skills   

AI is changing the way we work as we speak. 

The amount of data and information is increasing exponentially, and people struggle to keep up.  

In many work areas AI is used to improve performance, reduce costs, increase profits, drive customer loyalty, and more. 

Even areas where we felt the human touch is needed, are getting impacted, such as medicine and recruitment. In recruitment, AI is automating the search for top talent or even interviewing candidates.

Now, many employees welcome the help they get from tools leveraging AI.  

Data shows that while 49% of people say they’re worried about AI taking their jobs, 70% would use AI tools to unburden their workdays. People also believe AI can help with creative processes, from formulating ideas for their work (76%) to editing their work (75%).   

The same data shows that, for now, business leaders are looking to empower people with AI rather than replace them. They’re 2x more interested in using AI to increase productivity than to do layoffs. 

Personally, I would take this with a grain of salt. We all know that businesses want profit, and if they find an opportunity to cut costs, they will jump to it. That’s how capitalism works… 

Look at these titles: German tabloid Bild cuts 200 jobs and says some roles will be replaced by AI, AI is already taking video game illustrators’ jobs in China 

Let’s just not underestimate the potential AI has. 

Just look at the graph below, to understand what AI can deliver: 

"what jobs will AI replace" is a question that starts with this

Source 

What does this mean for employees? 

On one hand, AI implementation requires skilled professionals to develop, train, and maintain the AI systems. This means that new jobs will show up, with a focus on managing AI implementation and supervising. 

On the other hand, AI needs a creative brain for input and guidance, as well as critical thinking. ChatGPT is valuable now mostly in the hands of humans, who give it the proper prompt, isn’t it so? 

So, AI will enhance many job functions.  

Take marketing, for example. ChatGPT can be used to deliver content faster and cheaper than ever before. ChatGPT and MidJourney can be used to craft creative marketing assets faster. So, a new generation of marketers is starting to shape, one that understands how to use AI to create better marketing assets at record speed. 

So, the keyword here can be: “copilot”. In this new world where people will work alongside AI, the following skills will be crucial: 

  • Critical thinking; 
  • Flexibility and adaptability; 
  • Emotional intelligence; 
  • Fact-checking; 
  • Continuous learning. 

These aren’t new skills, right? But their importance will grow fast. 

But new skills will be needed as well. Employers estimate that 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years, says the “The Future of Jobs Report 2023“.

Another thought I’m having is the following: in the industrial revolution, people were working even 16 hours a day. After the 1930s depression, the 40-hour workweek began to be introduced in the Us to fight the unemployment. The 40-hour workweek became the norm in the U.S. starting with 1940. In the past years hybrid work and remote work became very popular. Some countries are even experimenting with the 4-day workweek. So, let’s be hopeful that, at the end of the day, technology will help us work less and live more fulfilling lives, with more time for family, friends, and hobbies.

Alina Belascu
Alina Belascu
Alina is a digital marketer with a passion for web design. When she’s not strategizing she’s doing photography, listening to podcasts on history and psychology, and playing with her 2 dogs and cat.