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Back in 2006, when we were about to graduate from engineering school, our biggest fear was having our tech jobs outsourced to India.
Which, as it turns out, wasn’t unfounded considering how many jobs in my last company did get outsourced to Indian developers. I mean, how are you supposed to compete when they can work remotely for a measly $5/hour? And not only that, one of them even willingly missed the birth of their own child because he was on call for an “urgent production issue.” He never complained.
But now, there’s an even bigger threat. A threat so big even the Indian developers are terrified of losing their jobs.
Enter ChatGPT, a chatbot launched by the company OpenAI in November 2022 and took over the internet with 1 million new users in just one week. And at the time of this writing, its user base has grown to 100 million users in less than 3 months.
ChatGPT, which stands for “Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer” (Geez, I hope the company didn’t use the bot to come up with its own name), can not only mimic a writer’s voice and come up with well researched articles within seconds, it can also simplify and explain quantum physics, fix bugs in code, and have a convincing conversation with you without breaking a sweat.
ChatGPT even managed to pass prestigious STEM exams like the United States Medical Licensing Exam, law exams in four courses at the University of Minnesota, and the Wharton MBA Exam!
It’s only going to get better and more advanced over time.
Anyone else getting scary Skynet vibes from this? Might as well bow down to our robot overlords now, knowing that ChatGPT could very well be our virtual doctors, lawyers, engineers, and business analysts in the future.
In fact, Microsoft believes in the technology so much that they’ve invested as much as $10 billion in OpenAI, after laying off 10,000 employees. I’m sure that made their laid off workers feel great. Clearly, they’re not hurting for cash, but if your skills can easily be replaced by a chatbot who never stops working, doesn’t need vacation or benefits, and never complains, get the hell out.
This immediately reminded me about the layoffs at my last job, which happened despite the company reporting $2 billion dollars in profit that year. No matter how skilled you are, no matter how secure your think your job is, no job is 100% secure and no employee is irreplicable.
And now with the rounds of layoffs happing at Meta, Google, Twitter, Amazon, and Salesforce, it’s more important than ever to save up enough FU money so that when (not if) the hammer falls, it’ll be a blessing rather than a curse.
I have no idea how many jobs ChatGPT could replace in the future, but these fields are the most vulnerable:
CNET and Buzzfeed have already started using ChatGPT to write articles. The technology is still prone to glitches and factual inaccuracies so human editors still need to vet the content, but as ChatGPT learns and improves over time, more and more media and news outlets could use this technology to save time and produce high volumes of content with little effort. After all, why pay a writer hundred to thousands of dollars to write an article that takes hours when ChatGPT can do it within seconds with no holidays or benefits needed.
Real-estate agents have been using ChatGPT to write copy for their listings since November and already some say “they can’t imagine working without it now“. All you need to do is type a few keywords into the tool and in less than 5 seconds, it’ll generate a polished description of the listing, sprinkling in just the right marketing phrases like “ideal for entertaining” and “provides ample space for relaxation” that will fool anyone into thinking it was written by an actual human.
For simpler, standardized curriculums like those in grade school and high school, ChatGPT could easily be trained to teach it. It can explain mathematical problems, give examples, perform a variety of calculations, and solve equations. It can access large amounts of information and summarize it in a simplified, easy to digest way, making it ideal to teach subjects like history, geography, or science.
For post-secondary education, however, the complexity and creativity required to master this level of expertise will still require human professors. But who knows? That could change in the future as ChatGPT gets smarter.
Instead of hiring multiple teams in different time zones to provide 24/7 support, companies can now train ChatGPT to learn about common customer questions and complaints, and be able to provide continuous support. You may not even know that you’re talking to a robot instead of a person, given how well ChatGPT currently mimics the conversational tone of human support personnel. Since most customer support is done remotely anyway, it’s not much of a big change to switch to using an intelligent robot rather than a person reading a script and looking up solutions in a handbook.
Simple Web development/Tech Support
ChatGPT can already do simple bug fixes and suggest coding solutions for simple software problems. And this ability will only improve overtime. So, if your job involves simple front-end coding and basic troubleshooting/tech support, your job could be next on the chopping block.
Graphic Design/Digital Artists
Netflix made an anime short called “Dog & The Boy” using AI, which generated a ton of backlash from artists. AI art is now so prevalent, it’s easy to make your own art on your website without ever needing to hire a graphic designer. And unless specified, most untrained human eyes can’t tell the difference between AI generated art and art produced by humans.
If your job is in one of these fields, have a backup plan and get your finances in shape just in case. If you have your FI armor on, threats of outsourcing, ChatGPT, or recessions can’t hurt you.
But if you don’t, now’s the time to get ready and take the first steps towards having enough FU money so that you don’t have to worry. Start with having 6 months of living expenses set aside, then go from there.
Luckily for these other fields, because of the creativity, problem solving, and complexity involved, it’s very unlikely that ChatGPT could take over your job:
When it comes to healthcare, nothing beats a living, breathing doctor or nurse. For the same reason that you wouldn’t rely on WebMD to diagnose serious illnesses and be responsible for your care, you wouldn’t want to rely on ChatGPT to take care of you in the hospital or be responsible for life saving surgery. No matter how many medical school exams ChatGPT passes, humans will tend to put their lives in the hands of other humans rather than a heartless computer.
Would you trust ChatGPT to fly the airplane you’re sitting in? I wouldn’t. ChatGPT’s value add is being able to comb through vast amounts of information and summarize it clearly and concisely while mimicking a human’s voice. But what about situations or disasters it has never encountered before? Right now it can only do systematic tasks and troubleshoot issues by finding solutions to known problems. But what about when shit hits the fan and it needs to get creative and start making up brand new fixes on the spot? Airline passengers are unlikely to trust ChatGPT pilots.
Even though ChatGPT can suggest bug fixes and do troubleshooting, it’s still not sophisticated enough to completely replace software engineers (yet). Its mathematical abilities aren’t advanced enough to replace mechanical, civil, aerospace, environmental engineers, etc. But that could change as it learns and grows over time. That being said, due to the complex and creative problem solving aspect of these fields, human engineers will likely always be involved in checking ChatGPT’s work, as well as upgrading and debugging ChatGPT itself.
What Can We Do About It?
So there’s a big bad AI robot coming to take our shit. What can we do about it?
Diversify Your Skillset
The more creativity and complex problem-solving skills you have, the harder it’ll be to replace you with a bot. Don’t just coast on your existing skills. Learn as many new skills as possible so that you are difficult to replace. And if you find yourself in an industry that’s vulnerable to being replaced, find ways to broaden your appeal as a worker to industries that aren’t, like health care.
Whether you agree with it or not, there will continue to be layoffs in the future as machines become more sophisticated and replace humans. And companies, driven by efficiency and profit, will boost their stock prices by saving money on labour costs while increasing productivity. In fact, after Buzzfeed announced they will use ChatGPT to create content, their stock jumped 150%. Be on the right side of this equation. Be a shareholder instead of an employee. Learn how to invest.
Boycott ChatGPT products
If you don’t agree with ChatGPT replacing human jobs, boycott their products. Demand that companies be transparent about using ChatGPT. If a piece of art or a TV show was created by AI, don’t buy it or watch it. If a company uses AI to replace human workers, don’t buy their products. The market, i.e. buyers like you, have the power to enact costs on companies that use ChatGPT, and if the costs of using the technology outweigh the benefits, then companies will stop using it.
Save FU Money
Instead of associating money with ego, use it as a tool for safely and autonomy. The more FU money you have, the less vulnerable you are to job losses and the more control you have over your life. Use your FU money to buy peace of mind and financial security. It’ll be the best money you ever spent.
What do you think? Do you think ChatGPT is coming to take your job? Why or why not? How will you prepare for it?
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