Thursday, April 18, 2024

A.I. won’t take your job, but an A.I. expert might

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If A.I. could take your job, being an A.I. expert could land you a new one. It’s a mouthwatering proposition considering some jobs come with salaries as high as $335,000 a year. 

As generative A.I. tools like ChatGPT become more accessible, companies are considering how to incorporate them into their day-to-day operations. More often than not, that responsibility falls to prompt engineers, an emerging role specializing in asking generative A.I. the right questions to obtain desired outcomes. 

A World Economic Forum report estimates that A.I. will create 97 million new jobs. Though it acknowledges automation will slash 85 million—that’s still a net gain of 13 million new jobs. The same report found that the A.I. field has the biggest skills gap in the tech industry, meaning there are few qualified applicants for roles despite a rapidly growing need. 

A.I.’s effect on the job market will only become more apparent as ChatGPT and its competitors proliferate, but one trend is already clear: Those skilled in prompt engineering will be in demand and help shepherd the A.I. revolution within their organizations.

Experts caution that it’s too early to say which jobs prompt engineers will replace and instead recommend focusing on which tasks a prompt engineer could help facilitate.

Prompt engineers could, for instance, write a query that allows those working in investor relations to take notes summarizing earnings calls or help marketing departments quickly write prompts for text-to-video or text-to-image tools that produce creative assets for advertising campaigns.

“The key is to figure out what sort of time is spent on tasks that don’t add value, perhaps ones that are repeatable, then look at the efficiency gains you could have and apply the technology to those,” says Craig Williams, chief information officer of Ciena, a B2B company that provides networking systems and software. 

Such tasks might include job description creation or summarizing regulations for the legal department about a compliance matter. Because the technology is so nascent, a prompt engineer’s job will also require cross-functional work to identify where companies can use generative A.I. Williams, who also leads A.I. integration at Ciena, says he envisions his team owning all the “hard stuff” like coding, security, and compliance that go into the process and then providing his coworkers in other departments with an A.I.-powered platform to more efficiently perform tasks. 

“I see A.I. being able to transform business units that are just focused on their stuff,” Williams says. “Horizontally is where the magic can happen because you start to take all these different pieces across the company and make sure people see the complete picture versus just their domain.”

Paolo Confino

paolo.confino@fortune.com

@paolo1000_

Reporter’s Notebook

The most compelling data, quotes, and insights from the field.

Despite shifting power dynamics in the workplace, employees are still willing to quit their jobs if companies don’t meet their needs, according to new survey data from career site The Muse. Here are the top five reasons employees say they want to leave their current jobs:

– Toxic workplace culture (34%)

– Lack of flexibility (26%)

– Prospective layoffs (22%)

– Salary freeze (22%)

– Actual layoffs and/or hiring freezes (17%)

Around the Table

A round-up of the most important HR headlines, studies, podcasts, and long-reads.

– Companies helping employees pay off student loans consider the benefit critical to retention. Wall Street Journal

– The principal downside of remote work is that junior employees receive little feedback. New York Times

– Some experts think the buzzy four-day workweek proposal could be even shorter. Insider

– Conferences present an effective workaround for employers struggling to convince employees to spend time together in person. Bloomberg

– A conservative think tank is behind ongoing efforts to weaken child labor laws. Washington Post

Watercooler

Everything you need to know from Fortune.

WFH debate continues. New York commercial real estate magnate Sam Zell called remote work “a bunch of bullshit.” —Steve Mollman 

Robot friend. Low-skilled workers paired with a ChatGPT-style generative A.I. tool were about 14% more productive than those who weren’t, according to a working paper. —Chloe Taylor

Disney restarts layoffs. Disney’s latest round of job cuts began Monday and will last through Thursday. —Thomas Buckley 

NBC CEO resigns. NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell left the company Sunday after an “inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company.” —Anne D’Innocenzio, Jake Coyle

This is the web version of CHRO Daily, a newsletter focusing on helping HR executives navigate the needs of the workplace. Today’s edition was curated by Paolo Confino. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

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