Technology Executive Council

How generative A.I. and ChatGPT will influence jobs at all professional levels

Key Points
  • Generative AI and chatbots including ChatGPT will create many new jobs and change the nature of existing work positions.
  • That will start as high as the C-suite, with the position of chief AI officer, and filter down through employment in fields from IT to service.
  • Middle managers may be particularly exposed early on to the technology's influence and need to learn adoption methods to secure their roles.
Metamorworks | Istock | Getty Images

A recent report by Goldman Sachs estimates that approximately 300 million global jobs could be exposed to automation, and one-fourth of all work could be replaced by generative artificial intelligence.

With chatbots now able to write content and create visuals, AI threatens to disrupt jobs like designers and software engineers, and take over a wide range of repetitive work tasks now handled by humans. But at a broader level, AI is emerging as a job influencer, with still-unknown implications from the highest executive roles down to call center operations.

More than 75% of companies are looking to adopt AI tech in the next five years, according to the Future of Jobs report from the World Economic Forum published in May, which surveyed 803 companies across the world.

We asked three experts closely watching AI deployment in the work world for their views on how professionals roles from the C-suite down through middle management and service will be altered by the technology.

A new C-suite role of chief AI officer is coming

Asha Palmer, senior vice president of compliance solutions at digital learning platform Skillsoft, says every C-suite has executives who oversee privacy and data, so AI could prompt the creation of a chief AI officer and entire departments overseeing AI security.

"Ten years ago, you would rarely find a chief privacy officer. Now, every company has one," said Palmer. "As you think about data privacy being a department with people who specialize in it, I believe that AI could take a very similar approach."

As AI takes off, a chief AI officer will be a key decision maker over tech priorities that filter down through the organization. Companies need to take precaution and set up guardrails to oversee AI use, Palmer said, and that starts with training employees on how to use chatbots and generative AI.

"You have to teach employees not to copy company information into generative AI, which includes meeting transcripts and sensitive company documents," she said. "If employees are trained correctly, these rules should play top of mind before they use it."

A future chief AI officer would not only be tasked with training employees and providing safety measures, but they would also likely focus on transparency of AI use, including how companies disclose environmental, social, and governance issues that may exist in algorithms.

"Transparency mechanisms include how are you checking for bias? What is your bias percentage? What's your accuracy percentage? What's your source list?" Palmer said. "For companies using or buying AI, they should ask AI companies what their transparency metrics are, how often they audit and check these, and ask them to make this information public facing."

Service, call center jobs will have lower barriers to entry

As roles change with AI, the technology will lower the required skills needed and barriers of entry in specific jobs and industries, according to Shahar Chen, CEO and co-founder at Aquant, an AI-powered platform for service industries.

Chen said AI will positively impact service businesses, especially those with repair technicians and call center agents, in the sense that AI will assist these roles and minimize the skills required to do them.

"What AI is changing is that the skills you need to be a call agent or technician becomes very low," Chen said. "If I'm answering the phone, and you call me with a broken washing machine, I can just ask the AI, 'How do I guide my customer to fix a leaking washing machine?' The only skill I need is to be able to read from the screen."

With lowered barriers to entry to be a technician or call center agent, companies will be able to cast a wider net for potential employees. AI will also change customer demand, because if there are more technicians in the field, customers will expect faster results.

Middle managers need to embrace AI quickly

Employees and companies need to embrace AI where they can and leverage it, and that may be nowhere more critical than in middle management, says Danny King, CEO and co-founder at Accredible, a digital credentialing platform that works with customers from Google to MIT, Harvard, and McGraw Hill.

Office workers face a challenge, but it is the roles in middle management, specifically, he said, "where it's ambiguous how AI will impact them."

The optimistic case for middle managers: whether it's an AI department or changes in how appliance technicians are staffed, there will be a need for middle management across all industries as long as they adapt and evolve with the changes that the technology creates.

The same idea applies to consulting, human resources, and project management. AI can automate the mundane tasks of these roles and allow humans to focus on the more creative, high-value work, King said. "Most people fear these jobs being replaced, but I think AI will assist and they're more likely to be safe," he said.

But even with many benefits from incorporating AI in the workplace, Palmer said it would be a mistake to ignore the risks that will emerge as more employees use it.

"We're not going to get it all right on the first go round, because there are going to be risks that we might not be able to predict," Palmer said. "But there's a lot of opportunity for increased education, awareness, knowledge gathering and building. There are great efficiencies that can be built by AI, and so it will never go away."

CNBC Exclusive: Slack's new CEO Lidiane Jones talks new AI-integrated chatbot
CNBC Exclusive: Slack's new CEO Lidiane Jones talks new AI-integrated chatbot