Science fiction is an ideal genre for people who wonder about, hope or fear for what can become real one day. One of the most famous themes in this genre is a dystopian future where technology develops malicious intent, and decides to take over the world with catastrophic consequences for humanity. While we're still not there yet, fiction is no longer fiction, and such wild imaginings have become reality, or at least some of them.
In the last few years, artificial intelligence (AI) has made leaps in capability and ease of use. The rise of software like Midjourney, D-SCRIPT and ChatGPT has created a way for anyone to write essays, create art or other types of content without needing individual skill.
We have seen the news on fiction being created around the world with AI, such as the release of The Safe Zone, a short film which holds the title as the first film written and directed by AI. English band Breezer also went viral after they decided to make a record in the style of their favourite band Oasis called The Lost Tapes -- and used an AI tool to add Liam Gallagher's voice to their tracks. Meanwhile, a Berlin-based artist refused a prize as he later revealed submitting an AI image as a joke to a photography competition. Even a renowned comic book in Thailand, Kai Hua Ror, recently launched a special issue using AI to create the story, content and illustrations for the entire issue.
While the arrival of AI is meant to benefit and make human life easier, these rapid advancements have also sparked debates about its potential to eventually replace human jobs. The integration of AI in various industries undoubtedly brings benefits and challenges. There used to be concern about industrial robots displacing workers in factories, and now, a similar pattern is now emerging with AI. This has caused people to worry about fewer jobs in the future.
China, India, Kuwait and many other countries have started using AI-powered news anchors, leading to fewer jobs for journalists. In the US, there's an ongoing strike by writers across the country working in Hollywood as the Writers Guild of America is seeking better pay and other improved conditions. They're afraid that producers are going to use an AI to write movie and TV scripts, especially for streaming platform content.
So, will AI be replacing our jobs in the near future?
AI has already revolutionised several industries, automating repetitive tasks, enhancing productivity and augmenting human capabilities. So yes, it will disrupt the workforce and the landscape of employment to some degree. There'll be roles that can be automated and replaced by AI, especially for a job that's simple and repetitive and can be automated. According to the World Economic Forum, roles we might see less of in the future are generally secretarial and administrative such as bank tellers, cashiers, ticket clerks, data entry officers, accountants and graphic designers, just to name a few.
However, I believe that ultimately even if AI will be able to do things that we can do now, the human psyche is very different. Jobs that involve creative thinking, complex problem-solving and human interaction are less likely to be fully replaced by AI. We do things that AI cannot do yet. So eventually the answer is yes, AI will be replacing our jobs, but that's a long time away still. And while AI might eliminate jobs in the future, at the same time, it may introduce new job opportunities and career paths. Back in 2020, the World Economic Forum predicted that 85 million jobs will be displaced, but 97 million jobs will be created by 2025.
In the IT world today, we hear about jobs or skills in engineering which didn't exist a few years ago. So I think there'll be an increasing need for developers, data engineers and data scientists in the AI space, as well as AI policy in terms of governance, regulation and risk mitigation. Remember that time when we didn't have the internet and people were worried it would take away their jobs? Actually, it created more job opportunities, especially online ones. And I believe that AI will do the same thing.
The future is uncertain, and AI's impact on the job market is inevitable. But what we can do now is understand what AI can achieve and see how you can participate and perhaps contribute to that. Instead of fearing displacement, we could try to upskill and learn more about AI. Talking to different people from different generations is also a good idea. The younger generation seems to often be more up-to-date with technology. You can safeguard your career by also changing to another role that is working with AI rather than against it.
Tatat Bunnag is a feature writer for the Bangkok Post's Life section.