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  • Alison Winstaney

VUWSA Column: Is A.I Taking Our Jobs?

Getting a university degree is often sold to students as a way of increasing our employability and ensuring the sweet promise of job security once we graduate. But in the age of AI, how much do we need to worry about our skills being replaced by robots our degrees considered worthless against a machine?


If university degrees prepare students for the workforce, students should also be prepared for the evolutions the workforce is going through. Today, this means students should understand how to use AI and make it work for us, not against us.


In the same way a simple understanding of Excel used to propel a job candidate, an understanding of AI is an advantage for the current generation of graduate workers.


The majority of senior employees have no understanding of AI. Having even a rudimentary understanding will make a candidate more attractive to a hirer who can’t even send an email without a ‘Sent from my iPhone’ at the end.


To get a balanced take on this, I decided to go straight to the source. I asked ChatGPT whether graduate students need to understand AI to compete in the job market, it said:


“Yes, having a foundational understanding of AI can significantly enhance a graduate student’s competitiveness in the job market. AI is increasingly prevalent across industries, and proficiency in AI concepts allows graduates to contribute to innovation, data-driven decision-making, and problem-solving. It provides a competitive edge, demonstrating adaptability and relevance in a rapidly evolving job market.”


ChatGPT even gave me a list of reasons why AI is superior to a human. It says it is better equipped to handle:


  1. Repetitive and routine tasks without getting fatigued or making errors;

  2. Data analysis and pattern recognition on a wide scale;

  3. Task performance with precision and accuracy;

  4. Predictive analytics using algorithms;

  5. Continuous operations, being able to work 24/7 without requiring rest and meal breaks;

  6. Rapid learning and improvement as data is input into it;

  7. Complex calculations with speed and accuracy;

  8. Multi-tasking, being able to run many tasks simultaneously to produce a high volume of work.


That sounds pretty neat to a capitalism loving employer who focuses on profit and output, doesn’t it? Of course, this forgoes the fact that AI can almost never calculate numbers correctly and is very easily manipulated by being fed incorrect data.


That is exactly why a new working generation needs to be able to understand AI, how it works, and where it is flawed.


But it doesn’t end there—students can even use AI to market themselves better to employers, drafting a cover letter or asking it to find job opportunities with qualification matches.


AI proficiency is a necessity, and students need to be taught how to use it to their advantage, rather than be left behind to be overtaken by it. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.


ChatGPT agrees with me here too. I asked it why people shouldn’t be scared of AI, it said “it's a tool created and controlled by humans. While it can automate tasks and make predictions, it lacks human emotions, intentions, and creativity. AI's purpose is to assist and augment human capabilities, not replace them entirely.”


AI isn’t taking our jobs, but helping us do them better—as long as we get on board and learn how to use it.


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