It is possible that what a technical writer is writing manually today is perhaps something Artificial Intelligence (AI) might already be writing for a different company! What will the writer do when AI takes over their role? Maybe, check and edit what AI has produced. Wait, hang on! AI also has the potential to perform the role of an editor; proofread then? No, it is proficient in that area as well. Lose the job?
For the time being, it remains a rhetorical question, although according to a Goldman Sachs report, AI threatens to wipe out 300 million full-time jobs.
“We do not know how the technology will evolve or how firms will integrate it into how they work. That’s not to say that AI won’t disrupt the way we work. Rather than focusing on the potential negatives, we should focus too on the potential living-standards gains from higher-productivity work and cheaper-to-run services, as well as the risk of falling behind if other firms and economies better adapt to technological change,” Chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank Torsten Bell told the BBC.
What’s more threatening for the field of journalism and technical writing is that the report calls the ability of generative AI to create content indistinguishable from human work “a major advancement”, while stating that AI could replace a quarter of work tasks in the US and Europe.
“ChatGPT [generative AI] allows more people with average writing skills to produce essays and articles. Journalists will therefore face more competition, which would drive down wages, unless we see a very significant increase in the demand for such work,” Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey, future of work director at the Oxford Martin School, Oxford University, told the BBC.
Bleak hope—in the form of new jobs and a productivity boom—questions the skills employees will to fit in and perform the next course of jobs that are still unknown to us.
“Interestingly, the Goldman Sachs report states the opportunity that exists with technological change: ‘60% of jobs today did not exist in the 1940s’. Therefore, the underlying and ‘scary’ technological advancement is a perfect example of how we adapt to AI and use it for our benefit.
“What is very different about this industrial AI revolution is that it’s not just the manual workers who are feared to be or being affected, but also the middle and upper management,” says Phil Hermsen, Solutions Director, Data Science & AI, at HCLTech.
Globally, the total annual value of goods and services sector would likely to rise by 7% if AI is put to use in the right way, adds the report.
Earlier, a University of Oxford study in 2013 found that in the next 20 years, 47% of US jobs could be eliminated by AI.
After research on ‘AI’s impact on the American workforce’, Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, told Business Insider: “It has really captured people’s imaginations and made tangible how this could play out.”
In comparison to the blue-collar workers, white-collar employees “appear to be more exposed to these technologies”, said Muro and hinted that humans are gradually moving toward an era of augmented intelligence, where AI will not replace millions of jobs anytime soon but will be required to help employees do their jobs in the near future.
Echoing Muro’s thoughts, “fearless” UK Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan, who believes “AI was no longer the killer robots like in ‘The Terminator’ rather Brits must learn to trust latest computers and not fear AI”, told The Sun: “We want to make sure that AI is complementing the way we work in the UK, not disrupting it - making our jobs better, rather than taking them away.”
Her comment came after the Rishi Sunak government recently committed up to £3.5 billion to the future of tech and science as it is keen to promote investments in AI in the UK, which it believes will “ultimately drive productivity across the economy”.
“As each new transformer [like ChatGPT] is released, there is increased talk about whether the transformer is a ‘servant’ or ‘master’ - i.e., is humanity going to benefit or is it one step nearer to ‘The Terminator’ or ‘Matrix’ universes, where the machines have taken over? These discussions are not new and date back to at least the 19th Century Luddite movement. What is new is the rate and scale of change, including the accessibility of these transformers to the general public.”
“This time governments are having to take notice and look out how a countrywide economy is going to adapt to the new future. It’s not just the shortage of new graduates with STEM skills that’s a problem, but also how do you retrain a workforce that didn’t have these skills to start? It’s also ironic that the manual workers that everyone thought would be replaced by robots and AI, still have their jobs - anyone seem a bricklaying robot?” adds Hermsen.
The roles and sectors at risk
Tech jobs like coders, computer programmers, software engineers and data analysts; media jobs that include advertising, content creation, technical writing and journalism; legal industry jobs such as paralegals and legal assistants; market research analysts; teachers; financial analysts and personal financial advisors; traders; graphic designers; accountants and customer service agents are at risk from the rise of AI.
Despite investing in AI in the past, Elon Musk now fears what late Stephen Hawking told the BBC in 2014: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate.”
In an open letter on The Future of Life Institute, Musk and 1,000 other technology leaders, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, have called for a pause on the “dangerous race” to develop AI, which they fear poses a “profound risk to society and humanity” and could have “catastrophic” effects.
Their points of argument include humankind doesn’t yet know the full scope of the risk involved in advancing the technology. They asked all AI labs to stop developing their products for at least six months, while more risk assessment is done.
AI already in use for good
However, despite the attention-grabbing headlines, AI is being used as a force for good and will continue to do so with the right oversight.
When it comes to police departments across the world, technology—especially, AI—has helped police forces with facial recognition, ease work pressure, biometrics and data and analytics.
In a recent interview with Forbes, co-founder and head of external affairs at Mark43, Matt Polega said: “Modern technology can transform how police officers do their job. Reducing the administrative burden of writing reports frees officers to spend more time out in the community. Too often, police officers have to leave their beat to tackle time-consuming paperwork.”
However, it has also been repeatedly fined in millions in Europe and Australia for breaches of privacy and forbidden from cities like Portland, San Francisco and Seattle. But it has 30 billion images scraped from online platforms and taken without users’ permissions.
Even though police in the US do not routinely reveal if they use the software, Assistant Chief of Miami Police Armando Aguilar said his team used the system about 450 times a year, and that it had helped solve several murders.
How is HCLTech helping the UK police
In the UK, HCLTech has worked with various police forces for over 10 years to help them embrace technology—from delivery of enterprise apps into police forces to creation of products that have been developed “by the officers and for the officers.” Here’s what HCLTech has created for the UK police:
OPTIK: A product for frontline officers. All policing-related functionalities, such as crime & justice, public protection, intelligence, street encounters and non-emergency services, can be accessed by officers via OPTIK from anywhere. It is based on HCLTech’s hybrid framework ONECODE and can be easily customized.
Digital Policing Platform: This enables police force processes to be operated through rule-based chatbots that are designed to simulate conversations with officers via messaging and voice assistance.
Tasking and Briefing: The Automated Silent Dispatch System provides real-time updates (intelligence) of what is going on in the area they are operating in.
Biometric: It is a device-agnostic app that captures information via fingerprint devices and then it extracts biometric-specific data from Biometric Service Gateway of the Home Office.
Mobile Forms: This app provides a set of automated mobile forms for frontline officers and can be accessed by officers via OPTIK from anywhere. The data is managed in relational database and further reporting is done by admin users.
Victim Services: This is an app that provides support, information and referrals services to victims and witnesses of crimes. The app’s Content Management System creates, edits, deletes and manages the services for the victims.
Form Builder: This is a low code platform/tool that allows business users to design forms with no coding. It automates form generation and integration in existing applications or as a separate portal.
Dashboard Solution: With this platform, the police forces no longer need to update whiteboards manually multiple times a day, instead they get the unified real-time view of all critical events on a single pane.
BOLI: With inbuilt data analytics algorithms to identify important spoken words from the audio file, this is an intelligent AI system for audio-to-text conversion that automatically converts pre-recorded audio files into textual files.
At this phase of augmented intelligence, while we debate the good and the bad, the fear and the help, the uncertainty and the assurance, here’s what the open letter from the tech leaders concluded with: “Humanity can enjoy a flourishing future with AI. Having succeeded in creating powerful AI systems, we can now enjoy an ‘AI summer’ in which we reap the rewards, engineer these systems for the clear benefit of all, and give society a chance to adapt. Society has hit pause on other technologies with potentially catastrophic effects on society. We can do so here. Let’s enjoy a long AI summer, not rush unprepared into a fall.”