While some workers are spiraling about one day being replaced by AI, Richard Baldwin, an economist and professor at the Geneva Graduate Institute in Switzerland, says there’s nothing to worry about — as long as you know how to use it.
“AI won’t take your job,” Baldwin said during a panel at the 2023 World Economic Forum’s Growth Summit. “It’s somebody using AI that will take your job.”
AI, Baldwin said, has the potential to help workers do their jobs better. A nurse who uses a medical AI tool, for instance, would be “much more capable than they were before,” he said.
“AI is essentially wisdom in a can,” he said. “It’s giving more power to all workers, but especially those average workers.”
In that vein, Baldwin said he believes that AI could elevate the middle class. He equates the work of “expensive” and “talented” workers with “20 years of experience” to what AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT are capable of achieving overnight.
“I think it will be uplifting for the middle class, but it will be extremely disruptive in the sense that every job will change,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin’s thoughts on AI come as generative AI tools like ChatGPT have sparked debate over whether the tech will replace jobs.A recent Goldman Sachs study found that generative AI tools could impact 300 million full-time jobs worldwide, which could lead to a “significant disruption” in the job market.
But some experts say AI will help workers be more productive. After all, professionals in a range of industries are already using tools like ChatGPT to develop code, write a press release, and generate lesson plans.
Like Baldwin, many AI enthusiasts see understanding AI as a critical skill for workers.
That could be why amateur course instructors like Lance Junck have made tens of thousands of dollars teaching people how to integrate ChatGPT into their workflows. Akash Nigam, the CEO of Genies, an avatar tools creator, even plans on factoring ChatGPT usage into his employees’ annual performance reviews.
Given the meteoric rise of generative AI tools, it’s only a matter of time before rote tasks will be eliminated.
“There will be automation of certain things, and everybody will learn how to deal with it,” Baldwin said.