IBM announcement about replacing almost 8,000 jobs with Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making headlines. Here's a closer look at the implications of the move and the ripple effects it might have across various sectors.
The AI Master Plan
IBM has always been at the forefront of change. Now, under the leadership of CEO Arvind Krishna, IBM aims to achieve a significant transformation within its workforce. Krishna has earmarked a whopping 30% of IBM’s back-office functions, especially in the HR domain, to be replaced by AI within five years.
The company's initial hiring freeze may have raised eyebrows, but its subsequent postings for AI-specialized roles, including positions like “Data Scientist – Generative AI” and “Machine Learning Developer” offer insights into the company’s future direction.
The immediate target seems to be back-office roles, particularly in human resources. By reducing manual tasks and repetitive processes, IBM intends to create a more agile and efficient back-end operation. This move would suggest that jobs in accounting, finance, and various non-customer-facing roles may soon face a reckoning.
The Broader Landscape of AI Employment
IBM's shift is emblematic of a larger trend sweeping the tech industry. Giants like Amazon, Meta, Twitter, and Microsoft have also experienced layoffs, signaling a potential pivot towards increased automation and AI reliance. The ramifications of this shift have not escaped policymakers. The White House's December report underlined the inevitable workforce displacement due to AI.
It’s crucial to remember that while some jobs will become obsolete, AI also promises to create new roles and opportunities. For instance, AI has the potential to liberate workers from labor-intensive tasks allowing human employees to focus on more strategic and creative endeavors.
The Global Perspective
IBM's move is but a drop in the ocean when one considers the broader impact of AI on the global workforce. Goldman Sachs economists recently released a startling report indicating that nearly 300 million full-time jobs worldwide are vulnerable to AI's latest advancements. Technologies like ChatGPT could make inroads into diverse industries, potentially replacing 18% of global work.
The march of AI into the workplace is inevitable, and IBM's decision is merely a precursor to a more AI-centric professional world. While the initial focus is on the replacement of roles, it's essential to understand the broader perspective. Automation, driven by AI, could also lead to the creation of new roles, fostering innovation and enabling human workers to focus on tasks that genuinely require human touch, empathy, and creativity.