AI & Your Job: 3 Ways To Win At AI-Inspired Career Musical Chairs

Being fascinated by the capabilities of ChatGBT is not uncommon. Many people, including my college-aged children, have embraced it with a mix of excitement and nonchalance. However, it's important to recognize the potential impact of generative AI on careers. The displacement of jobs is a significant concern. As someone who works in career transition and organization transformation, I have become more attentive to these shifts.

Technological displacement occurs when new technologies, such as robots in manufacturing or software programs in accounting, replace human labor. The impact of automation on job loss is often underestimated. In fact, the number of jobs lost to automation in the past two decades is six times higher than the number of jobs lost to off-shoring. The real issue lies not in automation itself but in the ability to offset these job losses with new industry growth.

While some jobs may be lost due to automation, new industries emerge and create new job opportunities. For example, the growth of green technology could help compensate for job losses in other sectors. It's important to consider the net impact of job losses and gains. The future of career opportunities will depend on the growth rate of these new industries, including AI, which can potentially create jobs.

Generative AI has the ability to not only displace jobs but also change the nature of the jobs it replaces. Tom Friedman's three-tier employment model provides a useful framework to understand these changes. Historically, technological displacement has mainly affected middle and lower-skilled jobs. However, generative AI has the potential to impact all tiers of employment, including highly skilled professions.

Given the inevitable changes brought by AI, it is crucial to take proactive steps to ensure career resilience. Here are three recommended actions:

1. Begin: Dive into the world of AI. While only a few may possess in-depth knowledge, it is important to start learning. Follow experts in the AI field and stay informed about the latest developments. Engage in discussions about AI within your workplace, school, or professional associations. If such conversations are not happening, take the initiative to start them. Active engagement is key to navigating major shifts effectively.

Please let me know if there's anything else I can help you with.  

#2. Practice Seeing Differently. Wait. What? I know this one sounds lofty. Imagine that we are in the late 1800s and we ask a farmer what she needs to make her life easier. “I need a bigger horse,” is close to what we would likely hear. We would never hear the word, tractor. Seeing differently is all about spotting tractors. Does this sound impossible? It does not need to be. The real requirement to see something differently is allowing yourself to disengage from fitting AI into existing models. Ask simple questions. Leading with, “What might be different?” may give you more runway than, “How does this fit into our current business model?”

#3. Own A Slice of the Pie. Pick an area of AI that interests you and go large. There are loads of options, from regulation to governance, and first-mover industries or their influence on social equity. It does not matter which you topic choose, that you choose matters enormously.

Taken together these steps can reduce the risk that you are not the only one standing at the inevitable game of AI-inspired career musical chairs. Acting now can guarantee there will be a chair left for you.

For more information on my research and work on change, transition, and transformative growth, please read my most recent book, Dancing with Disruption.

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