Sept. 6, 2023

AI won't take your job. Someone using AI will.

AI won't take your job. Someone using AI will.

With the recent advent of AI regenerative systems, many people have become frightened that advances in AI will result in chaos at many levels. Some fear that it will become impossible to tell the difference between AI-generated information (text or pictures) and info created by human beings. Others have the irrational fear that AI machines will take over the world and destroy mankind. Still others are afraid that they will lose their jobs to AI programs.

AI can now create lifelike images, change our looks, and even understand different languages. It’s changing the way we interact with technology. But with this groundbreaking power comes the need for responsible handling. The rapid progress of AI also brings concerns about job losses and societal issues.

The truth, however, is more mundane. Many of the advances are not that new. People have had the opportunity for years to edit pictures using tools like Photoshop. They could change backgrounds and facial features, hair color and fake photos looked very real. But such tasks often took hours to achieve.  New AI tools simply make those tasks easier.  But remember, it is not the machines or the programs making these changes, it is people. AI is just a new tool.

Similarly, the growth of Google made writing papers or articles for school or work much, much easier.  Work that used to take days could be created in minutes or hours with a few well-structured queries. Indeed the availability of such text-based information required new tools and practices amongst teachers and professors to detect plagiarism. With regenerative AI, the mixing and mashing of words has become easier and it may only take minutes or seconds to generate such text. Indeed we are in the process of having to develop newer and smarter techniques to detect this type of tool use (or misuse). For instance, AI detectors are already commercially available (e.g. or )

Of course, at the same time, others are trying to make AI-generated text undetectable (.e.g. ) As with the introduction of plagiarism checker, cheaters will develop counters to detectors and people with create newer detectors still.

See… nothing has really changed. Fake pictures will just be created (but perhaps by AI instead of Photoshop). Cheaters will still try to cheat (just using new tools). But the problem is not the tool per se… it is the people who are doing these things.

Unfortunately, many people are more stressed, not about cheating or fake pictures, but about the threat that AI systems will replace them and they will lose their jobs.

The truth is that AI systems really don’t think or create. They are tools that respond to human instructions to perform new tasks. In the same way that the introduction of spreadsheets did not replace accountants or statisticians. It did change the jobs of those disciplines. Those who did not learn to use such tools were replaced by people who did. This altered how training for such skills occurred. It used to be that statisticians spent most of their time cranking out calculations manually (or using slide rules or handheld calculators. They had to memorize all the formulae associated with their trade because every number they generated had to be created by brute force. Nowadays statisticians or mathematicians in training spend most of their time learning when and how to apply such methods. More data can be processed in far less time and conclusions can be reached much faster than before.

The arrival of AI-based applications will just be more of the same. More work will be achievable in less time, but all of it will be at the instruction of people who learn to use these new tools.

Change is inevitable. Horse-drawn carriages were replaced by steam-powered mechanical carriages, which we replaced by gasoline-powered ones. Many improvements have followed since. Cars barely resemble the first ones that were sold en masse to the world.  Now electric vehicles are replacing the gas-powered ones and we have cars that can drive and park themselves. In Dubai, there are self-driving vehicles that fly (air-taxis ).

AI systems won’t replace people in their jobs. Other people who learn to use these new tools will replace those who do not.

Change isn’t going to stop. It is the one most enduring feature of our world. The reason is that while most people are desperately trying to keep up with change, others are innovating and developing newer, faster and better ways of doing things. They are the ones who actually create change.

As Peter Drucker said, “The talk you hear about adapting to change is not only stupid, it’s dangerous. The only way you can manage change is to create it.”  You can create change in the world around you, or you can create change in yourself. Adapting to change results in a race where you will never catch up.

Since our prehistoric ancestors first developed fire and introduced the use of fire-hardened spears, survival has been based on who can build the next better tool. (Tools for farming, transportation, building, and war). That’s the world we live in. Competition and innovation drive change. It is the basis of evolution. It lies at the heart of industry.  AI is just the latest tool we have created in our journey across hundreds of thousands of years.

It is change that drives us and changes us. And it is people, not AI who create that change.