Almost all U.S. jobs, from truck driver to childcare provider to software developer, include skills that can be done, or at least supplemented, by generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), according to a recent report.
GenAI is artificial intelligence that can generate high-quality content based on the input data used to train it.
“AI is likely to touch every part of every job to some degree,” says Cory Stahle, an economist with Indeed.com, which released the report.
The report finds that almost one in five jobs (19.7%) — like IT operations, mathematics and information design — faces the highest risk of being affected by AI because at least 80% of the job skills those positions require can be done reasonably well by GenAI.
But that doesn’t mean that those jobs will eventually be lost to robots.
“It’s important to recognize that, in general, these technologies don’t affect entire occupations. It actually is very rare that a robot will show up, sit in somebody’s seat to do everything that someone does at their job,” says Michael Chui of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), who researches the impact of technology and innovation on business, the economy and society.
Indeed.com researchers analyzed more than 55 million job postings and found that GenAI can perform 50% to almost 80% of the skills required in 45.7% of those job listings. In 34.6% of jobs listed, GenAI can handle less than 50% of the skills.
Jobs that require manual skills or a personal touch, such as nursing and veterinary care, are the least likely to be hard hit by AI, the report says.
In the past, technological advances have mostly affected manual labor. However, GenAI is expected to have the most effect on so-called knowledge workers, generally defined as people who create knowledge or think for a living.
But, for now, AI does not appear poised to steal anyone’s job.
“There are very few jobs that AI can do completely. Even in jobs where AI can do many of the skills, there are still aspects of those jobs that AI cannot do,” Stahle says.
Rather than replace workers, researchers expect GenAI to enhance the work people already do, making them more efficient.
“This is something that, in many ways, we believe is going to unlock human potential and productivity for many workers across many different sectors of the economy,” Stahle says.
“There are a number of things that can happen,” Chui adds. “One is, we simply do more of something we were already doing, and so imagine if you’re a university professor or a teacher, and the grading can be done by machine rather than you. You can take those hours and, instead of grading, you can actually start tutoring your students, spending more time with your students, improving their performance, helping them learn.”
American workers need to begin using the new technology if they hope to remain competitive, according to Chui.
“Workers who are best able to use these technologies will be the most competitive workers in the workforce,” he says. “It was true before, but it’s more true than ever, that we’re all going to have to be lifetime learners.”
A survey developed by Chui finds that almost 80% of workers have experimented with AI tools.
“One of the great powers of these generative AI tools, so far, is they’ve been designed in such a way to make it easy for really anybody to use these types of tools,” Stahle says. “I really believe that people should be looking to embrace these tools and find ways to incorporate them into the work that they’re already interested in doing.”
Ultimately, could one of the unexpected benefits of AI be more efficient employees who work less?
“In general, Americans work a lot,” Chui says. “Maybe we don’t have to work so long. Maybe we have a four-day work week … and so you could give that time back to the worker.”