With many experts fearing A.I. developments could lead to more layoffs, there are questions and concerns being raised about what could be next for the U.S. labor force.
FOX Business’ “How America Works” host Mike Rowe issued a warning, Thursday, about A.I. developments and what it means for the white-collar worker.
“You can’t put your head in the sand, but you can’t panic either. It’s coming. You know, the robots are coming, the AI is coming,” Rowe said on “The Big Money Show” Thursday.
“People used to say that the robots are going to destroy skilled labor. Well, not really. I haven’t seen any plumbing robots. I haven’t seen any electrician robots. And I don’t think we’re going to see any artificial intelligence in the skilled trades to that degree. You can’t stop it. All you can do is decide to freak out completely or not.”
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The rapid growth of A.I. has many industry experts trying to predict which job sectors will be most impacted as well as how many jobs could be replaced.
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One AI expert, Ben Goertzel, predicted the tech could potentially replace 80% of jobs “in the next few years.”
Goertzel, the founder and chief executive officer of SingularityNET, told France’s AFP news agency at a summit in Brazil last week that a future like that could come to fruition with the introduction of systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
Other studies have gone into further detail analyzing which jobs are most at risk for an A.I. takeover.
A Goldman Sachs study found that several industries had relatively little exposure to automation by AI technologies, including cleaning; installation, maintenance and repair; construction and extraction; production; and transportation moving. Each had over half of their tasks viewed as not being automatable with AI largely serving as a complementary tool for the remainder of those tasks.
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Generally, fields less exposed to AI-driven automation tend to involve manual and outdoor work or specialized knowledge.
The Goldman Sachs report found health care practitioners and support staff; fishing, farming, and forestry; personal care; and protective services had less than one-quarter of their tasks that weren’t exposed to AI-driven automation. Although each had at least a portion of their tasks that could be complemented by AI.
“I’ve been hearing for years that robots are going to wreck blue-collar work. Turns out AI is coming for your white-collar job,” Rowe said earlier on “America’s Newsroom.”
IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, for example, announced his company is going to pause hiring for certain jobs that could be replaced by AI.
“I do believe, and I’ve said this before, that A.I. is going to replace many clerical white-collar jobs, and that’s the kind which I expect A.I. will replace over the next five years,” CEO Arvind Krishna told FOX Business’ Liz Claman on “The Claman Countdown” earlier this month.
But it’s “not as simple as jobs go away,” he added.
“The number of jobs, though, perhaps in customer care, in coding, in business process, in developing artificial intelligence is going to increase so much that the net increase is going to be positive while there’s a movement from one area to the other.”
Krishna had also told Bloomberg he predicts roughly 30% of non-customer-facing jobs being replaced by AI within the next five years.
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Rowe encouraged those white-collar workers not to panic but to, instead, consider this an opportunity to start a career in a booming industry.
“We can’t control what A.I. does. We can’t control a long list of things. But unless our country reinvigorates the trades and unless we start to get a better understanding of where the true opportunities are, why panic about losing your job to A.I. when you could retrain in six months in a career that’s exploding?” he said.
Rowe also added that moves like the one from IBM to pause hiring in certain fields can push people into skilled jobs. Though a stigma surrounding skilled trades exists, Rowe acknowledged, he said they are often the more rewarding roles.
“My foundation has trained nearly 1700 people in the skilled trades. Many of them are welders, many of those welders are making over six figures. No one believes it. No one talks about it because the stigmas are so clear that, oh, my kid winds up being a welder, it’s because he or she couldn’t cut it over here. That’s such nonsense,” he said.
“For people who master a skill that’s in demand and watch their trajectory, you’re going to find they land at something that looks an awful lot like prosperity.”
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Rowe also noted that changes due to A.I. provide workers with the “opportunity to remind yourself that you are not a product of what you do.”
“Job satisfaction is not a product of your job. It’s a product of who you are.”
FOX Business’ Julia Musto, Eric Revell and Daniella Genovese contributed to this report.