How AI will change the future of work.
For years, we’ve been warned by studies touting alarming headlines about the future of work, like the 2017 report from Dell and Institute for the Future that “85 percent of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.”
But for those of us living in blissful ignorance of generative AI until the public launch of ChatGPT in late-2022, these reports failed to provoke a sense of urgency.
It no longer seems like an over-exaggeration that the world of work is going to look markedly different in just a few short years, as IBM’s recent announcement to replace nearly 8,000 jobs with AI over the next few years makes clear.
Everyone — from Chief People Officers at Fortune 500 companies whose headcount plans have been upended to incoming college students wondering if their planned majors are going to prepare them for a job that will even exist when they graduate — is justified in thinking that we need to get a better grip on what this future might look like.
While it can help to be reminded that it’s nothing new for the job landscape to be entirely upended every couple of generations (after all, software engineers and digital marketers never coexisted with lamp lighters or “knocker-uppers” or essentially human alarm clocks), it’s still been hard to imagine a world in which the jobs that seem so critical to both doing business and living life might be supplanted.
That’s why I turned to Kristin Fracchia, who runs a team of product marketers and analysts at Chegg Skills, and who spent countless hours analyzing trends in the job market. Kristin and her team have a pulse on what is going to change in the job market better than anyone. When I asked Kristin what are the jobs that don’t exist today, but Chief Human Resource Officers and training managers should be aware are just around the corner, here is what she shared as a sampling across various industries:
1. Prompt Engineer
First, this job is already here, but it warrants a mention because of how quickly it’s exploding in popularity across a wide range of industries. It’s our first example of how quickly generative AI is changing jobs. In 2021 and early 2022, prompt engineers could virtually only be found at AI companies. But according to LinkedIn, the number of job posts that refer to “generative AI” has increased by 36-fold since last year. A search of online job boards now pulls up open job postings for Prompt Engineers across multiple verticals, everything from defense contracting to hospitals, with salaries up to $300K.
2. Human-Machines Teaming Manager
As AI and other technologies become more integrated into the workplace and companies increasingly rely on human-machine collaboration to achieve business objectives, enter the Human-Machines Teaming Manager: an upgrade from the people manager, one whose job is to make sure all intelligences work well together, even the artificial ones.
3. AI Ethicist
Like prompt engineers, the job of the AI ethicist has existed, but largely in tech companies focusing on AI or at research institutions. In the coming years, we are likely to see this role expand either as an internal job req or as a consultative service to most companies who use AI to do work, especially where the output has a critical impact on the physical, psychological, or ethical well-being of humans.
4. Digital Detox Therapist
With the rise of virtual therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic meaning that it’s no longer necessary to have a critical mass of clientele in a geographic area, “niche” therapy practices have also been on the rise. As AI expands the presence of technology in everyday life, “digital detox” may morph from just a suggestion to unplug to a specific branch of therapeutic practice.
5. AI Personality Designer
Siri, Alexa, and Cortana all had glam squads behind them carefully crafting their interactive personalities. As AI expands into various industries and notably as it becomes more common for individuals to be generating their own digital twins or likenesses, AI personality designers are going to become a hot commodity for both corporations to engage their customers and for individuals to pursue their own virtual fame.
6. Biotech AI Engineer.
One of the most life-changing applications of generative AI technology is in healthcare, where it can be deployed to identify diseases or genetic disorders. As a result, roles that require training in both machine learning and biology are likely to emerge as the pace of scientific discovery accelerates.
7. Smart City Designer
With the rise of AI, we might see urban planning evolve into smart city design, where cities are built specifically around the need for humans to use AI and other technologies in their day-to-day lives. Smart city designers would also actively leverage AI in their work as they collaborate with engineers, architects, city leaders, and citizens to plan more user-friendly and sustainable cities.
Throughout this coming decade, we all need to be prepared that the next one is going to look incredibly different, with our own jobs re-imagined and the jobs of those we lead evaporating or emerging seemingly in an instant. AI is impacting not only the future of work but the “now” of work. As the recently released Future of Jobs Report from the World Economic Forum states, AI is now the number three priority in company training strategies and the number one priority for companies with more than 50,000 employees.
Leaders in every industry need to start thinking about how they will train and re-train their workforce into jobs like the ones sampled here. Six months ago, they may have sounded like sci-fi, but not anymore.