Opinion  |  July 23, 2023

AI is just a tool, or is it?

The perspective on AI models as “tools” is well-taken. However, I believe it's essential to acknowledge the transformative effect AI already has on various aspects of society, particularly employment and education.

AI has shifted human roles significantly in my professional experience, often replacing mundane tasks and freeing humans for more creative and strategic roles. In my company, for instance, AI has taken on duties equivalent to two junior developers, a part time editor, translators and a junior communications and marketing officer.

This transformation isn't just about AI replacing humans; it's about the shift in tasks and roles humans traditionally performed. It's important not to overlook this reality, as it can have significant implications, especially for our educational system.

The current and upcoming generations face an evolving landscape where tasks they are learning may be easily performed by AI. We run the risk of equipping them with skills that might soon be irrelevant. This situation points to an urgent need to revamp our educational approach, to prepare students for an AI-assisted future where team work, intuition development, creativity, critical thinking, and complex problem-solving will likely gain more prominence than routine tasks and memory and knowledge.

AI's impact extends beyond being a mere tool, like a calculator. It is reshaping how we interact with technology and information, similar to previous technological revolutions. The convergence of AI with other technologies like robotics even brings us closer to a future with greater automation.

Nonetheless, AI’s value is determined by those who wield it, underscoring the importance of its responsible, human-centric development.

Going back to jobs and roles, AI, including large language models (LLMs) like GPT-4 and computer vision models, here is a very short initial list of roles AI can/is replacing or enhancing:

Jobs AI is already or very close to replacing:

  1. Data Entry Clerks: AI can automate data entry tasks with a higher speed and fewer errors compared to human performance.
  2. Bookkeepers: AI can handle accounting tasks, tracking payments, managing accounts, and processing invoices efficiently.
  3. Customer Support Representatives: AI chatbots can provide 24/7 customer support, handling many common queries and complaints.
  4. Inventory Managers: AI can predict inventory needs, track inventory levels, and automate reordering.
  5. Proofreaders: AI can scan documents for grammatical errors, punctuation, and spelling mistakes.
  6. Market Research Analysts: AI can analyze large data sets for trends and insights, making predictions about market trends.
  7. Retail Salespeople: AI can recommend products to online shoppers based on their browsing history or profile.
  8. Tax Preparers: AI can automate tax return preparation by analyzing financial data, identifying deductions, and calculating tax liabilities.
  9. Security Guards: AI-enabled security systems can monitor video feeds for unusual activity and alert relevant parties.
  10. Manufacturing Workers: AI can handle repetitive tasks in a production line, reducing errors and increasing efficiency.
  11. Transcriptionists: AI can convert speech to text faster and with more accuracy.
  12. Travel Agents: AI can handle booking tickets, hotel reservations, and provide personalized travel recommendations.
  13. Bank Tellers: AI can automate transactions like cash deposits, withdrawals, and transfers.

Jobs AI is enhancing require a shift for those in that role:

  1. Doctors/Radiologists: Computer Vision AI can assist in reading and interpreting medical images for early detection of diseases like cancer.
  2. Journalists: AI can assist in automating routine reporting, leaving journalists to work on more complex stories.
  3. Lawyers: AI can assist with legal research, contract review, and due diligence processes.
  4. Teachers: AI can provide personalized learning experiences based on each student's strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Marketing Professionals: AI can provide customer behavior insights, enhance customer segmentation, and automate content creation.
  6. HR Professionals: AI can assist in candidate screening, matching job descriptions with candidate profiles, and conducting initial interviews.
  7. Designers: AI can generate initial design drafts or creative ideas, leaving more complex tasks to human designers.
  8. Programmers: AI can assist in code review, debugging, and even automate some routine coding tasks.
  9. Project Managers: AI can assist in project scheduling, risk assessment, and resource allocation.
  10. Psychologists: AI can help in monitoring patient progress, providing cognitive behavioral therapy, and identifying patterns in patient behavior that might indicate specific mental health issues.
  11. Real Estate Agents: AI can help in analyzing market trends, property valuation, and provide virtual property tours.
  12. Farmers: AI can help in crop and soil monitoring, predictive analysis for weather conditions, and precision farming.
  13. Supply Chain Managers: AI can optimize delivery routes, manage warehouse organization, and predict supply chain disruptions.
  14. Musicians: AI can compose simple music pieces, leaving musicians to work on more complex compositions.
  15. Architects: AI can help in generating structural designs, energy efficiency analysis, and simulate structural stability under various conditions.

As AI's influence broadens, its mere classification as a tool fails to encompass its transformative potential. It is a catalyst sparking evolution in roles, education, and human interaction with technology, pointing to a future fueled by AI-driven innovation.