More than a few people have worried about the possibility their jobs may become precarious following advances in artificial intelligence. If you work for IBM, or more specifically the Human Resources division of IBM, it’s not just hyperbole. IBM is planning to freeze hiring those good-for-nothing humans and replace them with fully automated alternatives.
In an interview with Bloomberg (paywalled) via Ars Technica, IBM chief executive officer Arvind Krishna talked about plans to pause hiring for 7,800 positions with the intention of eventually replacing them with AI or automated systems. Shit just got real.
Krishna explained that humans performing HR duties like employee movements and services would be among the first to switch to artificial intelligence. However, roles that require human scrutiny would not be impacted for at least a decade. Jobs that require interacting with customers and developing software will take a lot longer before AI can take them over.
The idea of AIs replacing humans has been the stuff of science fiction for decades, but with the recent advances in AI technology, led by the rise and mass awareness of tools like ChatGPT, it’s clear these kinds of discussions (and the anxieties people have about them) are only going to become more frequent.
As one of the leading tech companies in the world, IBM is obviously at the tip of the spear. If we are heading towards an AI revolution, it’s going to begin with companies like IBM, or Nvidia, or Intel.
Your next machine
Though it may not be as big of a concern as it seems. AI has been creeping into the workforce for decades. Automation and robotics have steadily taken over sectors once the domain of fleshy humans. We’ve managed to survive (barely it seems), but that’s the kind of topic you could write a thesis about.
According to Krishna, despite some January layoffs, IBM added around 7,000 new employees in the first quarter of 2023. IBM currently employs around 260,000 workers, compared to which 7,800 isn’t really a dramatic number.
IBM isn’t immune from the headwinds facing big tech. The likes of Google, Amazon, Meta and others have laid off tens of thousands of staff over the last year. Exactly how many of these roles will be replaced with AI is the big question.