Jamaica | Feb 28, 2023

Greater need for hybrid studies as AI set to replace human labour: policy development specialist

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Since the launch of the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, ChatGPT, in late November last year, there have been increasing concerns surrounding job security for many people across several disciplines worldwide.

The chatbot launched by OpenAI, an American AI research laboratory, is very multifaceted with the ability to write emails, essays, and poems and generate codes based on a prompt.

ChatGPT is now being employed by several organisations to replace half of their staff in completing tasks such as marketing, responding to customers’ queries and creating advertisements. Not only do AI chatbots have the potential to increase the productivity of organisations, but it also helps to cut costs, thus increasing the organisation’s profits.

A response by ChatGPT, an AI chatbot developed by OpenAI, is seen on its website in this illustration picture taken on February 9, 2023. (File Photo: REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration)

With the myriad of benefits available from the use of the ChatGPT, this poses several threats to the manual labour force and also places focus on universities to ramp up their academic offering to students to make them more competitive in the labour force.

Professor Anthony Clayton, the Alcan professor of Caribbean Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies (UWI), outlined that it has been estimated that, by 2050, several jobs that humans are currently doing will be replaced by robotics and artificial intelligence.

“A lot of the jobs we do today, are going to be done better, faster, more quickly and more reliably by robotics and artificial intelligence and that includes a lot of the activities that we think of as requiring specialist skills,” he said.

He noted that the jobs that could be replaced by AI vary based on the structure of the economy, so it could be as little as 30 per cent in some countries, and as much as 80 to 90 per cent in others.

Professor Anthony Clayton, the Alcan professor of Caribbean Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Clayton noted that, while there will be a need for specialists in their various disciplines – such as medicine, engineering, the food industry and others, they will not be needed in large numbers.

“We have software that can look at mammograms and detect the risk of a cancer, with an accuracy level which is better than most medical consultants. While we do need those medical specialist, we don’t need as many because we will be able to use artificial intelligence to a lot of things that need manual processing,” he added.

Greater need for interdisciplinary studies

The policy development specialist pinpointed that universities will now need to develop interdisciplinary studies, a customizable degree program that combines two or more areas of study into one discipline.

“I don’t think in the future you will be going to university to do a traditional degree, I think you will be going to university to acquire a combination of skill sets which will enable you to operate effectively in range of different working environment,” he said.

He explained that developed countries such as the United Kingdom have already started to offer interdisciplinary studies to their students which equips them with the skills to be more competitive in the job market.

Professor Clayton further noted with the advancement in technology such as ChatGPT, there will be the development of new jobs to suit the labour market.

“Every time there is a major advancement in technology, it has destroyed some jobs and it has created other jobs. But we don’t know exactly what those new jobs will be, the one thing we can be sure of is that you will not just be able to get by with one skill in the future you will need to have multiple [skills],” he outlined.


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