When OpenAI launched ChatGPT and several tech titans either started developing their own AI assistants or started using them, there were a lot of articles showing how worried people are about losing their jobs. In addition, more and more companies are using these or other AI solutions. As a result, many of their employees are being made redundant. Recently, however, I encouraged my students to do some research to see if AI is really that scary. What’s interesting is that they discovered that AI will increase employment rather than decrease it. What’s even more interesting is that yesterday, at a special AI conference, Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, gave a thought-provoking talk entitled ‘Large Models Change Artificial Intelligence’, which confirmed what my students had discovered.
In this regard, Li emphasized that the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) will not result in the replacement or reduction of human job opportunities. On the contrary, he asserted that AI will create a plethora of new job opportunities and contribute to the next wave of remarkable growth.
AI will create more jobs
Numerous research institutions predict that over the next decade, job efficiency will experience exponential growth. However, this promising forecast also raises concerns regarding potential job losses. Answering the question whether the substantial increase in efficiency will lead to the displacement of human workers, Li said that he is not worried that big models will make jobs disappear. “I think there will be more jobs in the future.”
To illustrate his point, he drew a parallel with the transition from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles. While this technological advancement rendered the role of coachmen obsolete, it also paved the way for the automotive industry, which has become one of the largest industrial sectors worldwide, generating millions of employment opportunities. Similarly, typist jobs became obsolete three decades ago, yet new roles such as network engineers and game developers emerged in their wake.
He also highlighted the human tendency to perceive the disappearance of existing jobs while struggling to envision the new opportunities that will arise. Drawing on historical examples, he emphasized that individuals from 100 or 200 years ago could not have foreseen the diverse range of new job prospects that eventually materialized. As an optimist, Li expressed confidence that large models and AI would not lead to a decline in job opportunities or a diminished quality of life for human beings.
Looking ahead, the Baidu CEO eagerly anticipated witnessing the extensive application of large models across various industries, which would profoundly enhance operational efficiency. He envisioned remarkable progress as these models find invaluable use cases in different facets of life.