The Pew Research Center, A bipartisan think tank that tracks public opinion today released a report on how workers think about AI.
Technology has become an integral part of the workplace in recent years. And its role is likely to grow as AI becomes more powerful, thanks to advances like the big language models like GPT-4 that have given us ChatGPT and a growing number of other tools.
While there is no shortage of reports on people’s attitudes towards AI, Pew’s data is extensive and relatively fresh, drawn from 11,004 US adults consulted between December 12 and 18 last year – just as the ChatGPT Mania took hold after its release at the end of November.
The report suggests that most workers expect AI to transform hiring, firing and assessments. Many people report being unsure of what these changes might look like and worried about the potential impact of AI.
About 68 percent of respondents said they expect AI to have a major impact on job holders over the next 20 years. Curiously, however, only 28 percent said they thought AI would affect them personally, while 38 percent were unsure what the outcome might be for their own work.
These answers reflect the fact that nobody really knows how AI will transform jobs and work in the years to come. Technology is evolving rapidly, and its impact often varies greatly between industries and even roles.
However, we can expect the existing applications of the technology to expand and become more sophisticated. Some employers are already using AI to screen applicants, while enterprising job hunters are trying to outsmart the algorithms with clever tricks. In theory, AI technology has the potential to make hiring fairer and increase workplace diversity. In practice, however, this has sometimes done the opposite, prompting the US government to warn employers about the potential of algorithms to discriminate against people with disabilities.
The Pew survey reflects this conflicting picture: 47 percent of respondents say AI would do a better job than a human when it comes to hiring, but 41 percent oppose the use of AI in hiring.
Workplace surveillance is an area of general concern. 81 percent of those surveyed said greater use of AI will make workers feel inappropriately monitored.