How will artificial intelligence affect our jobs? Ever since ChatGPT hit the mainstream, it’s a question that has gripped the world.
Some have stark predictions. They say that the arrival of on-demand intelligence can only be bad news — with chat-bots destined to take over white-collar jobs. Others strike a more positive note, predicting that AI will improve our working lives. They say that, rather than taking our jobs, AI will automate boring tasks and free us to be more creative.
To find out how AI is already reshaping the workplace, and to get an early insight into its impact on society, EduBirdie surveyed 2,000 members of Generation Z — the first generation of true digital natives.
Born after 1996 (when Amazon was still a bookshop…) Generation Z have grown up surrounded by social media, smartphones and now LLMs like ChatGPT and Bard. When it comes to AI in the workplace, they’re better placed than anyone to understand its impact.
Early adopters: how Generation Z uses ChatGPT at work
Think back to your first office job. Now imagine someone had given you the power to tap into a multilingual mega-brain at the tip of your fingers — for free.
For the new-starters and career-climbers of Generation Z, that has become a reality. And unsurprisingly they’re taking advantage of this new technological realm. But how exactly are they doing that?
Asked how they use AI software like ChatGPT and Bard at work, the most common answer given by our Generation Z respondents was to conduct research — with 61% saying they’d used AI for fact-finding. Other popular answers include idea generation (56%), proofreading (47%) and writing content (42%).
But while Generation Z have been quick to use AI to help them get ahead at work, they’re also using it when it comes to climbing the career ladder and applying for jobs. 15% said they had used ChatGPT to help them draft a better résumé or cover letter, with 8% saying they’d used it to ‘hack’ the recruitment process by making their application stand out.
So rather than AI taking our jobs, perhaps it will prove to be the secret weapon when it comes to sealing that dream gig.
Will using ChatGPT get me fired?
Of course just because you can use AI applications at work, it doesn’t mean that you should.
For example, ChatGPT and Bard can be extremely useful to help you write a letter. But passing off AI content as your own work? That might bring problems — as Generation Z is quickly finding out.
Overall, 1 in 5 said they had faced issues after using AI in the workplace. 2% of our respondents even reported being fired after being caught using ChatGPT.
A further 11% faced some disciplinary action short of dismissal, while 8% said they experienced problems with the work itself (for example, ChatGPT citing incorrect information or producing content that didn’t fit the brief).
Still, while some have had issues, the vast majority (79%) of those using ChatGPT and similar AI models at work were pleased to report that they had no problems whatsoever.
Generation Z did report one side-effect, though, from being AI into the workplace: with 36% admitting they felt guilty about using AI to help them do tasks at work.
Will AI take our jobs? Generation Z isn’t sure
ChatGPT may have dazzled us with its seemingly limitless potential for knowledge. But will it end up taking our jobs?
As to the question of whether AI may replace them in the workplace this year, Generation Z weren’t so worried, with 53% saying it was very unlikely. Only 9% felt that it was a likely possibility — at least in the short term.
Ask them to look further into the future — when AI is expected to be even more powerful — and a slightly more pessimistic picture emerges.
Overall, 20% of respondents felt it was likely that their current job could be replaced by AI in the next ten years, with a further 41% saying it was a possibility.
When it came to potential job losses, we had another question for our digital natives: how would they feel if AI was to take the job of some of their colleagues? The majority were sympathetic: with 65% saying they would be upset if a co-worker was replaced by AI.
But not everyone was so charitable, with 15% saying they wouldn’t be too bothered, and 20% saying it would be that person’s fault for not working harder.
Of course, technology changes at a rapid pace, and it may well be that attitudes evolve as the AI revolution gathers pace.
The future is now: how Generation Z are using AI
With some 13 million of us loading up ChatGPT every day, you can bet its powers are being channeled in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways.
But our survey reveals that Generation Z has some excellent examples when it comes to unlocking AI’s impact on society — like improving oneself.
Indeed one-third of our respondents said that they are already harnessing the power of ChatGPT to further their self-development, be that personally or professionally.
That includes 15% of respondents who had used ChatGPT to plan their personal development (for example, coming up with a fitness plan) and 9% who had used it for career advice.
Respondents were also asked to list the benefits — as well as any drawbacks — that ChatGPT and similar AI tools had brought to their lives.
When it came to the benefits, 49% of all respondents agreed that AI had made them more creative, while 46% said it had boosted their productivity.
15% said that ChatGPT had enabled them to earn more money (always a welcome boost), with 40% saying that it had increased their confidence at work and socially.
As for potential drawbacks, the most common answer was that Generation Z worried about becoming too dependent on ChatGPT and losing the ability to think for themselves.
Meanwhile, 31% worry that it is reducing their own capacity for critical thinking, while 13% said it was making them less productive.
More reassuringly for the AI developers, 30% of respondents said they had no worries about how they were using AI — either at work or otherwise.