ChatGPT and Unemployment: What Jobs Will ChatGPT Take?

CBS breathlessly informs us of all the jobs that ChatGPT will be taking away. While history does tell us that technological innovation does take away jobs, it also instructs us that it creates new ones that are often more interesting.

It is a fact that rooms used to be filled with accountants consumed by the drudgery of adding up numbers by hand all day, but it’s also the case that most people in those positions probably moved on to somewhat more interesting work with the advent of the mechanical calculator and, later, the spreadsheet. I know which I’d rather be doing.

So, while we fret over the disruption of some jobs, being lost in this is the wider view of examining how work will be transformed. AI has the potential to increase efficiency and productivity, freeing up humans to focus on more complex, creative, and fulfilling tasks.

Their list of soon-to-be-orphaned jobs on CBS’s list includes: customer service representative, technical support specialist, telemarketer, general secretarial work, market research, debt collection, insurance claims processing, and lead generation. A lot of boilerplate writing in fields like law and accounting will also probably be automated. I doubt there are many people who will truly lament not being able to earn a living in any of these fields any longer.

In all fairness, let’s note that Ian Bogost over at the Atlantic frames this same story less optimistically, telling us that, “New technologies meant to free people from the burden of work have added new types of work to do instead,” and he doesn’t mean interesting work, either. Washing machines free the housewife from laundry, but then housekeeping standards rise as a consequence. Automated checkouts turn the customer into a cashier. Zoom meetings make meetings easier—resulting in more meetings.

Even more pessimistically, it’s been pointed out that our continuous monitoring technology is transforming us into an “always-on culture,” leaving no room for personal time. Ironically, the tennis-playing, cocktails-at-four-PM life depicted in fifties promotional films such as “Design for Dreaming” may have been promising us exactly that: a dream.