The Real Significance of Chat GPT
Chat GPT is the latest buzzword and is being heralded as the future, but to understand its true significance, one has to go back in history. In the late 19th century, typewriters became popular as they were much more efficient than writing by hand. Typists began to replace office workers who were performing tasks such as letter writing or keeping records by registering with their hands. Tests then showed that typewriters saved 40 minutes out of an hour compared with the pen. But when computers became popular, the number of people typing on computers grew exponentially while typewriters dwindled by millions. Similarly, with the advent of the excel sheet, usage of calculators came down drastically, and people shifted to using excel sheets to do computations.
These instances from history were not about job losses. These were matters of people and skills rather than people and jobs. Job opportunities did not disappear, but specific skills did, while newer skills came into vogue with the number of jobs for such skills going up. Throughout history, whenever a productivity tool has been introduced, a set or class of people will lose jobs – which actually means that lack of new skills leads to job losses; it’s not about people losing jobs because more people will get employed with the new incoming technology or tool.
What does Chat GPT say?
A McKinsey Global Institute report estimates that between 400 million and 800 million individuals could be displaced by automation and need to find new jobs by 2030 worldwide. Many people may need to shift occupational categories and learn new skills in the years ahead. 6 out of 10 occupations have more than 30% of technically automatable activities. However, even when some tasks are automated, employment in those occupations may not decline, but rather workers may perform new tasks.
Chat GPT seems to agree. I posed this question on the platform - what kind of new jobs will be created by Chat GPT? It answered modestly that though it cannot create jobs on its own, its deployment and usage can lead to new job opportunities in several areas, such as Natural Language Processing (NLP), Artificial Intelligence (AI) development and Customer Service.
A new and fast-paced cycle of growth
I believe that the impact of intelligent engines like Chat GPT will be huge in the future – in developing programs and applications, 80% of the coding will be done by AI, while 20% will be left for the human mind to work on. It means that millions of coders or IT professionals will stop coding work that they are doing presently, which will be done by machine learning instead. What does it mean? Let me explain.
Presently the number of unfinished IT projects in global businesses is equivalent to the revenue in expected IT services which would be in the range of $500 to $600 Billion. Imagine if all these long-term projects were to be speeded up by AI, such as Chat GPT or Google Bard and completed within the year. Then the growing appetite of organisations would exponentially increase, and a cycle of swift growth will be witnessed. Automation will mean more efficiency leading to more profitability which will be fed back as more tech investments, creating this fast growth cycle.
A Complete Bypass
Chat GPT will threaten people with skills that AI can replicate and who refuse to upgrade their respective skills. However, the scenario created by Chat GPT is an opportunity for businesses, new professionals, and youngsters entering the job market to leapfrog existing technologies and work on newer tasks or deliver work that adds value on top of what the AI engine is providing. An apt example is how in India, the mainframe was bypassed. It was not necessary for Indian techies to learn mainframes; they straight away started work on open systems.
Similarly, with the advent of Chat GPT and its expected more powerful versions in the near future, the new generation of professionals will bypass the old ways of working altogether. New skills will emerge – in other words, a complete bypass will happen and which is already happening. So industries and professionals must analyse whether they want to get stuck in a Mainframe era or look at new possibilities to grow exponentially. This has to be an entirely new way of doing business or delivering services by keeping pace with the AI engines.
Business Efficiency and Productivity are the common threads in the history of pathbreaking tools which introduced new ways of working. As long as this thread is there, adopting such tools and associated skills in humans will be in demand. Today there is Chat GPT; tomorrow, there will be another efficiency tool. The real significance of Chat GPT is the progress of the human race toward more efficiency and productivity. There was a time for the typewriter, a time for the computer, and now it’s time for the Chat GPT!