So far, the number of jobs eliminated by generative artificial intelligence is low.
However, executives and management consultants are showing signs that the technology could trigger a much larger wave of white-collar layoffs, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday (Feb. 12).
Unlike past automation revolutions, generative AI does more than speed up everyday tasks, the report said. It can also create content and synthesize ideas, thus doing the type of knowledge work now performed by millions of white-collar workers.
Among them are managers, whose jobs might never come back, the execs and consultants said in the report, as generative AI either transforms or replaces tasks done throughout the corporate structure across all sorts of industries.
“This wave [of technology] is a potential replacement or an enhancement for lots of critical-thinking, white-collar jobs,” said Andy Challenger, senior vice president of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas (CGC), per the report.
Companies have attributed more than 4,600 layoffs to AI since last May, especially in the tech and media spaces, the report said, citing CGC data. The company said the real number of AI-related job eliminations is likely higher, since many companies haven’t explicitly connected cuts to AI adoption in their layoff announcements.
However, the report also noted that business leaders said they think AI will enhance some white-collar jobs, letting workers and their managers focus on more meaningful tasks.
Executives at tech investment firm Prosus told the news outlet that’s already happening at their company, with AI automating more of its staff’s jobs.
“Engineers, software developers and so on can do the work twice as fast,” said Euro Beinat, Prosus’ global head of AI and data science, per the report. “One of the side effects is that a lot of these employees can do more and do slightly different things than we were doing before.”
But the reality is that AI can now let one person do the work of several, which in some scenarios can lead to job cuts.
“AI is undoubtedly transforming the workforce, and companies are navigating the delicate balance between leveraging technology for increased productivity and managing the potential job cuts associated with AI implementation,” PYMNTS wrote Friday (Feb. 9). “As AI continues to advance, it is crucial for businesses to consider the ethical and societal implications of these technological advancements while ensuring a smooth transition for their employees into the future of work.”
For all PYMNTS AI coverage, subscribe to the daily AI Newsletter.