It’s a bad day to be a paper pusher.
Artificial intelligence is on a rapidly aggressive pace to take over “clerical white collar work,” IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said.
Amid the explosion of language-based AI ChatGPT, a “marketing moment” Krishna called “incredible” during an interview with the Financial Times, he also forecasted what sort of jobs the tech will likely be displacing.
Fields like customer service, human resources, and positions within finance and health care could all see automation — not years from now but in the current day, according to Krishna.
“I think [practical AI use] is here and now,” he told the outlet. “We do have a shortage of labor in the real world and that’s because of a demographic issue that the world is facing . . . the United States is now sitting at 3.4% unemployment, the lowest in 60 years. So maybe we can find tools that replace some portions of labor, and it’s a good thing this time.”
For health care and finance, it is the “regulatory work” that Krishna, whose company partnered with McDonald’s in 2021 to automate drive-thrus, says no longer needs to be done by people.
“A big chunk of that could get automated using these techniques,” he said.
Pengcheng Shi, an associate dean in the department of computing and information sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology, previously told The Post in detail what sort of white collar finance could be phased out from AI as well.
“I definitely think [it will impact] the trading side, but even [at] an investment bank, people [are] hired out of college and spend two, three years to work like robots and do Excel modeling — you can get AI to do that,” Shi said. “Much, much faster.”
Krishna — whose company is responsible for the supercomputer Deep Blue that defeated Garry Kasparov in a 1997 chess match and Watson, a machine which won “Jeopardy!” in 2010 — also said that “further out,” AI will likely be capable of managing “things in like drug discovery or in trying to finish up chemistry.”
As for human resources, Krishna says that AI could do “90%” of data processing needed for “promoting people, hiring people, moving people” while the final judgment calls are still left in human hands.
“There are hundreds of such processes inside every enterprise, so I do think clerical white collar work is going to be able to be replaced by this.”
AI taking over customer service could also get clients “a much better answer at maybe around half the current cost,” according to Krishna. “Over time, it can get even lower than half, but it can take half out pretty quickly.”
Both Shi and Chinmay Hegde, a computer science and electrical engineering associate professor at New York University, warn that other industries are threatened by the emergence of such powerful — and now highly public — AI.
They include education, graphic design, software engineering, and parts of journalism, such as copywriting, according to the professors.
“This is not crying wolf,” Shi said. “The wolf is at the door.”