ChatGPT Will Impact Educated, White-Collar Workers: Research

  • Most American jobs are at risk of being impacted by AI like ChatGPT, researchers found.
  • Educated, white-collar workers making up to $80,000 a year will be most affected by AI, per the study.
  • Some jobs likely to be impacted include financial analysts, accountants, and writers.

AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT are coming for the American workforce — and if you’re an educated, white-collar worker making up to $80,000 a year, you’re among the most likely to be affected, researchers say. 

A team of researchers from OpenAI and the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study to see how OpenAI’s GPT-4 — the firm’s latest, most advanced language processing model — will impact the American workforce.

More specifically, the researchers wanted to find out which jobs are most likely to be “exposed” to the model’s capabilities. The study defines exposure as “economic impact without distinguishing between labor-augmenting or labor-displacing effects.”

Using job data from the US Department of Labor, the researchers found that up to 80% of the US labor force could see “at least 10% of their work tasks affected” by GPT language models and that 19% of workers “may see at least 50% of their tasks impacted,” according to the study. 

But deeper analyses finds that the impacts of AI on the workforce may affect some workers more than others. 

Those who work jobs with “higher wages” are at-risk of higher exposure than workers with lower wages, the study found — “a result contrary to similar evaluations of overall machine learning exposure.” The impact of AI on jobs increases as salaries gets closer to $80,000.  

From an industry standpoint, jobs in the “information processing industries,” like IT, are most exposed to generative AI, while jobs in “manufacturing, agriculture and mining” are the least exposed. That’s because roles that use “programming and writing skills” are most in-line with GPT’s capabilities.

Some of the jobs listed as “occupations with highest exposure” include tech jobs like blockchain engineers; data-heavy roles like mathematicians, financial quantitative analysts, accountants, and tax preparers; and communication careers such as writers, public relations specialists, interpreters and translators, poets, and lyricists. 

Given how these white-collar jobs require advanced skills, it makes sense that the researchers also found that workers with bachelor’s, master’s and other professional degrees are at high risk of exposure to AI. The opposite was also discovered to be true: Jobs that only require a high school diploma, vocational school, or on-the-job training — food preparation workers, electricians, barbers, and medical assistants, to name a few — may not feel the brunt of AI’s impact. 

The researchers did not respond to Insider’s immediate request for comment before publication. 

The study comes as many workers turn to impressive generative AI tools to do things like develop code, write articles, and generate lesson plans, rekindling an on-going debate on whether AI will replace the need for human workers.

While some labor experts say that AI could replace certain jobs, others believe that it they will simply make workers more productive.

Researchers acknowledge that the study isn’t perfect — nor is it meant to be definitive. Still, they conclude that it is possible that generative AI models can make “human labor more efficient,” but that “social, economic, regulatory, and other factors” may influence actual labor outcomes.

“As capabilities continue to evolve, the impact of GPTs on the economy will likely persist and increase, posing challenges for policymakers in predicting and regulating their trajectory,” researchers said. “Further research is necessary to explore the broader implications of GPT advancements, including their potential to augment or displace human labor, their impact on job quality, impacts on inequality, skill development, and numerous other outcomes.”

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