Part I. Introduction
The background of AI
With the rapid development of technology, artificial intelligence is becoming a technology that affects our lives, socialise and learning in a variety of places around us. The term artificial intelligence is explained by the Cambridge Dictionary (2023) as “how to make machines that have certain qualities of human thought, such as the ability to understand language, recognise pictures, solve problems and learn“. AI is defined as thinking and acting like a human but rationally (Kok et al., nd). AI could act or perform some tasks as ordered by humankind, to replace human actions to some extent and in a much quicker period. However, unlike human operations, most of the AI’s work is done according to pre-set rules. In addition, they cannot work out of these rules and orders, operating as what they have programmed. The following image shows the overall development path of AI.
Image 1. The Path of AI
Source: University of Queensland (nd)
Today, the technology of AI and big data has been applied to even more areas and deeply interacts with our work and live. The development and wide application of AI technologies lead to the increasing level of work and life convenience, such as efficient data analysis at work, faster information capture in the stock market, and also smart recommendation while shopping.
For example, search engines (Google), recommendation systems (Netflix), targeted advertising (Instagram), virtual assistants (Siri), autonomous driving (Tesla), translation software (Google Translate), facial recognition (Apple Face ID), chatbots (Chat GPT), manufacturing plants (automated production machines).
However, the article argues that these emerging AI technologies also cause a series of social and moral problems; one of the representatives is job insecurity because AI is replacing some workplaces such as assembling lines in the manufacturing industry, data analysis in the service industry and hospitality industry etc.
In this article, I will discuss how AI impacts social and moral issues and make recommendations accordingly. I would like to use the case of Chat GPT. First, the concept and functions of Chat GPT will be introduced with its advantages and disadvantages for society and labour markets. Then, some recommendations will be made accordingly based on identified problems or risks; these recommendations are not just for people whose jobs may be threatened by Chat GPT but also for the entire stakeholders, such as policymakers and organisations who will use Chat GPT.
Part II. The Case: Chat GPT
Image 2: Chat GPT
Source: Jana Devan (2023）
The company Open AI has made a revolutionary AI software, published in Nov 2022, which is named as Chat GPT. Technically, this is a disruptive development of AI, that draws the public’s great attention but also with arguments. The software can basically answer any questions; people can just type in some keywords to describe their demands, and then Chat GPT will search, organise and finally respond to people in a logical manner. For example, write a short story as how human usually writes.
There are two versions of the Chat GPT. One is the free version; the functions are limited to chat, question answer, story or news writing, email reply and simple calculations. Another is the chargeable version called Chat GPT Plus; the functions are expanded to automatic picturing and drawing, Excel-related working and even RTL coding; this version is more powerful and can do more complicated jobs (Open AI, 2022).
The Advantages of Chat GPT
The application of Chat GPT brings many advantages to human society. Here are some examples.
In the business field, Chat GPT could save labour costs and improve business efficiency. Its machine learning technology allows AI to communicate with customers as what humans would do, and even in a quicker manner (Marr, 2022). For example, introduce the product fully; the normal customer service people may take time to type in through keyboards. However, AI can make it done within one second. In addition, there is no need to spend time and money or customer service job training. Hence, not only is efficiency increased, but also costs are saved.
In article or paper writing, Chat GPT could also help. Once a person is writing a story but lacks critical ideas, they can put the idea to Chat GPT, and AI will search, respond, and eventually provide some ideas that may inspire people.
It can also analyse pictures and give reasonable recommendations. Imagine one user sends a picture with egg, milk, and flour and asks AI: “What can I do with those”. AI will scan and identify what they are, then respond to people based on its strong, smart analytical capability: to make an egg sandwich with a specific cooking procedure.
It can also assist people at work, such as time arrangements. One user types in the meeting time and length, then tell AI all meeting participants’ schedule. Chat GPT will quickly analyse the given information and arrange a time for a meeting while everyone will free.
Moreover, in academia, it also brings changes. This AI software would be a very supportive learning tool to solve problems in academic learning so that students can learn knowledges from the AI. On the other hand, teachers could use Chat GPT for teaching assistance, such as simple course material editing, grammar checking and so on (Eilidh, 2023).
Disadvantages of Chat GPT
While the Chat GPT brings so many advantages for our lives, there are also many identical problems on social, moral and even legal sides; job insecurity is the representative one. An interview by DW News provides a comprehensive and objective judgement of how Chat GPT impacts on labour markets; the AI expert, Mr Aljoscha Burchardt from German Research Centre, was invited for interpretation. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OucM_J12iT4.
Apart from the video, I also have some pieces of evidence and real world cases. Taking the example of translation jobs, especially written translation, many translation works can be done by the Chat GPT. Then, what interpreters need to do is just check and review. So, the demand in translation related labour market is significantly shrinking. On the one hand, fresh interpreters would have few job offers because the company would prefer experienced interpreters. There is no need to pay for new ones that also need time to improve. On the other hand, professional interpreters may face the risks of wage-cutting and more intensive competition at their workplaces because the workplaces are limited, so their wage bargaining power is weakened. And there is another possibility; experienced people want to avoid training freshers because they worry once freshers become professional interpreters, they will come to compete in the workplace and ask less for pay (Probst, 2023).
The problem of low pay and exploitation in the labour market is also occurring. Due to Chat GPT’s powerful data collection and analysis capability, people could only do some closing works such as editing, which are simple and easy, because most of the jobs are done by this digital machine. Therefore, the digital “sweat factories” are made: owners pay labours significantly less than legally regulated in some countries, and labours can either force to accept this unfair offer or leave (Perrigo, 2023).
Human jobs which are replaced by Chat GPT would cause a series of social and moral problems. People such as new graduates would face the challenge of job offers, which means what they have learnt in school cannot be used accordingly, which leads to the situations such as family financial pressure and long-term negative emotions and then impact their mental health, personal growth opportunity loss and so on. Even worse is if the number of such individuals is getting bigger, not only new graduates but also labourers who have a family to feed, then some social problems are inevitable and lead to chaotic social order and even security (de Miquel et al., 2022). Therefore, the negative impacts which Chat GPT and other AI technologies bring have to be mitigated.
The recommendations I made in this article are on the perspective of the “big picture”. In other words, the following suggestions are not provided just for “people who may lose their employment opportunities”, but also attempt to balance all stakeholders’ interests. A stakeholder is a capitalist perspective that emphasises customers, employees, investors, and others with a stake in the organisation. The theory suggests that an organisation or a government should create value for all stakeholders, not just shareholders (Edward Freeman, 1984). In my article topic, stakeholders include the population whose job and job opportunities are negatively impacted (vulnerable groups), the business organisations and investors and shareholders, and the government or policy decision-makers.
First of all, some recommendations are made for “vulnerable groups” in the context of AI. I suggest that some people, such as new graduates, should have the behaviour of consistent learning, through new skill capture of existing knowledge improvement, to increase their personal competitiveness, so they would have greater employment opportunities and even make them irreplaceable at work. Second, they can choose another industry to develop, the industries which are not heavily impacted by AI, such as the blue-collar related industry, or start their own career, become a freelancer or a business owner. Third, for freshers who want to learn experience in an industry, they could attempt to discuss with the companies to lower their payment (e.g., only take the minimum wage) in exchange for an opportunity to study. Later in the longer term, once the experience is captured, they can bargain for better opportunities.
The second recommendation is made from the perspective of employers. Although Chat GPT would contribute to labour cost saving and production capacity expansion (e.g., 24/7 automatic customer services), human labours are still importing assets to solve problems that digital machines cannot dosolve (Greenhouse, 2023). In this case, their values should be appreciated, and voices should be respected, especially at core workplaces. Treating them fairly or even better could increase their productivity, willingness to serve and loyalty. Otherwise, they may jump to the competitors, not only the loss of the company but also become to risks. However, fair treatment needs to deliver with conditions. The owners need to set explicit regulations and bottom lines to regulate their behaviours; this is also another way of motivation: there are rules of reward and punishment. Otherwise, some employees may believe they are too valuable to be replaced and ignore the regulations sometimes.
The last recommendation is made on behalf of the government and policy makers. They may adjust the laws and regulations to protect labours’ rights and make frequent supervision. For example, employers should not unilaterally terminate the employment contract for no reason and should formally notify employees of a fixed period in advance. Employees who believe are treated unfairly or illegally they can directly complain to authorities or trade unions. These complaints include but are not limited to low pay, overtime work without pay, and unreasonable terms and conditions cut. Once employees’ rights are well protected and supervised by the government, from macro and long-term perspectives, social orders can be stabilised, and given the improved employment environment, the economy can be developed in a healthier way.
Part IV. Conclusion
To summarise, in my opinion, that the emergence of Chat GPT is causing and will cause significant impacts on the labour market; job insecurity is the representative one. Despite how this technology is contributing to humankind and society, its negative effects should be reduced or mitigated in order to achieve a new balance among all stakeholders, such as “vulnerable groups”, policymakers, organisations/freelancers who are using Chat GPT or other AI chatbot technologies. Some recommendations are made; accordingly, these are probably not solutions, but I do hope the recommendations I made could contribute to problem mitigation.
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