Feb 9, 2024 - Business

Workers worry ChatGPT and AI could replace jobs, survey finds

Illustration of a businessman wearing a tie with binary code overlayed on the tie.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

About one-third of American professionals worry that artificial intelligence will make some jobs obsolete, and nearly half fear they could be "left behind" in their careers if they don't keep up, according to a recent Washington State University survey.

Why it matters: The results show a need for universities and companies to provide more training on the uses of generative AI programs like ChatGPT, Debbie Compeau, interim dean of WSU's Carson College of Business, told Axios.

What they're saying: "There's a lot of worry about, 'Do I have the skills to do this?'" Compeau said.

  • "What this means for us as a college of business is we need to be out there very clearly preparing our students for using this in the workplace."

What they found: The survey of 1,200 U.S. professionals found that 48% are concerned they could be left behind in their careers if they don't have chances to learn more about workplace uses of AI.

  • When asked to rank their concerns about the technology, 32% cited the worry that some jobs would become obsolete among their top three.
  • The survey was conducted online from Nov. 28 to Dec. 16.

The big picture: The WSU report follows a Gallup survey released last fall that found a growing number of U.S. workers — especially those college-educated — fear that advancing technology could soon make their jobs out-of-date.

Meanwhile, a recent Deloitte survey of 2,800 top executives found that most feel unprepared for the changes AI could bring.

Yes, but: The WSU survey results suggest many businesses are also open to the potential of AI, Compeau said.

  • Only 4% of workers said their organizations feared the technology, while a quarter described their employers as enthusiastic.
  • 30% of workers said their organizations were "measured" and "cautious" about AI's capabilities.

Plus: 74% of those surveyed said they think college graduates entering the workforce should already have experience using AI.

Zoom in: Compeau said WSU's business school has two classes that use AI "extensively" to help teach students about the technology, and pitfalls to avoid.

  • That includes discussing when students need to use their human brains to supplement and fact-check, plus recognizing bias in AI-generated responses.

The bottom line: Colleges and universities need to find ways to incorporate AI into their classes rather than banning it, and employers need to offer training for current workers, Compeau said.

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