The impact of artificial intelligence and automation is currently clouded by general panic, heart-wrenching anecdotes and exaggerated forecasts, Forrester underscores in a new report.
But the report highlights that generative AI will, in fact, influence more jobs than it replaces.
“Influence is different from job loss,” the report noted. “It means reshaping, retraining, and upskilling existing workers to incorporate generative AI tools into the daily workflow.”
It added that jobs that are easier to automate and have high generative AI influence, such as technical writers, social science research assistants, proofreaders, and copywriters, are more likely to be lost, while jobs that are harder to automate, such as editors, writers, authors and poets, lyricists, and creative writers, are more likely to be augmented by generative AI rather than replaced.
In total, Forrester expects generative AI to influence more than 11 million U.S. jobs, which is 4.5 times the number of jobs replaced.
Overall, the most affected would be educated mid-salary workers, Forrester affirmed. Workers with only a high school diploma or in occupations like transportation, warehousing, construction, etc. will see a relatively small 2.7 per cent influence level on their jobs. For workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the influence level ranges from 16 per cent to 21 per cent.
Additionally, the report finds that generative AI’s influence increases with income. Jobs with annual salaries of less than US$60,000 will see half the levels of generative AI influence than jobs paid US$90,000 or more. Managerial positions that depend on values like human judgment, empathy, and leadership, though high-paying, will see less generative AI influence.
The number of job losses to AI is also significant, the report noted. In fact, it expects jobs lost to generative AI to climb from 9.3 per cent to 30.4 per cent by 2030. That’s 90,000 job losses in 2023, growing to 2.4 million to 2030.
Job replacements, the report says, will be uneven across the workforce, and in some cases automation will stand in for jobs that are hard to fill, such as frontline work.
However, the report indicates that office and administrative positions will make up nearly half of all job losses, while other jobs will be mostly influenced by generative AI.
Leaders cannot rush in with a generative AI strategy without a plan, especially when the technology can perform poorly or provide suboptimal solutions, or when the market for talent is tight and existing employees start BYOAI (bring your own AI), posing significant security risks to the company.
Forrester suggests the following to prepare for generative AI influence at work:
- Invest in robotics quotient (RQ), which measures the ability of individuals and organizations to adapt to, trust, and generate business results from AI and automation. That entails upskilling employees, building new norms, cultivating positive beliefs, and being transparent about the role AI will play in an organization’s future of work plans.
- Prioritize job scenarios in your strategy which generative AI explicitly augments rather than replaces
- Analyze the jobs that will benefit most from generative AI. Equip workers in jobs with high generative AI influence with early pilot tools. These will prove out the most important short-term use cases and help reshape those jobs. Other jobs will see less relevance for these tools.
- Hire the right skills or upskill to fill generative AI gaps. And that should be an evolving process. For example, prompt engineering is currently a hot skill, but as generative AI systems become more adept at understanding human intent or even begin to create their own prompt, prompt engineering might decline in importance.
The full report is available for purchase here.