From Copywriting to Dog Walking: How ChatGPT is Killing Some People’s Writing Careers

The advent of the AI chatbot ChatGPT, which some call one of the most revolutionary products of this century, is causing a seismic shift in the professional world, particularly among copywriters, according to a report by The Washington Post (“WaPo”). AI’s growing influence is leading to job insecurity and even job loss among writers as companies opt for cost-effective AI over human talent.

San Francisco-based copywriter Olivia Lipkin found herself out of work after her tech start-up employer replaced her with ChatGPT Economists cited in the same report predict that AI technology like ChatGPT could potentially replace hundreds of millions of jobs, leading to a workforce upheaval akin to the industrial revolution.

While AI still lacks the personal voice, style, and accuracy of a human writer, many companies are willing to sacrifice quality for cost-cutting, according to Sarah T. Roberts, an associate professor at the University of California in Los Angeles specializing in digital labor, as quoted in The Washington Post.

The WaPo article says that generative artificial intelligence, like ChatGPT, is particularly disruptive. Trained on billions of words and images from the internet, this technology can produce human-like text, putting high-paying knowledge workers at risk of replacement. Ethan Mollick, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, told The Washington Post that this automation wave targets the highest-earning, most creative jobs that require extensive educational backgrounds.

A report by Goldman Sachs in March predicted that 18% of work worldwide could be automated by AI, with white-collar workers such as lawyers at higher risk than those in trades like construction or maintenance. The White House echoed these concerns in a December 2022 report, also mentioned in the WaPo article, warning of potential disruption in the workforce due to AI’s ability to automate ‘nonroutine’ tasks.

However, Mollick believes it’s too early to determine the extent of AI’s disruptive potential, suggesting that jobs like copywriting, document translation, and transcription are particularly at risk as they involve tasks easily performed by chatbots. On the other hand, high-level legal analysis, creative writing, or art may not be as easily replaceable, as humans still outperform AI in these areas.

The story of Eric Fein, a content writer from Bloomingdale, Ill., is a case in point, as reported by The Washington Post. Fein lost all his contracts almost overnight as his clients transitioned to ChatGPT. Despite being rehired by one client dissatisfied with ChatGPT’s work, Fein has decided to pursue a career in a field AI can’t replace and is training to become an HVAC technician and plumber.

According to The Washington Post, companies replacing human workers with chatbots have apparently faced significant challenges despite the cost savings. CNET’s AI-written articles were error-ridden, a lawyer relying on ChatGPT cited non-existent cases, and the National Eating Disorders Association suspended its chatbot after it gave harmful advice.

As AI continues to disrupt the workforce, the question remains: Is the cost-saving worth the drop in quality? As Lipkin, now a dog walker, puts it i, “People are looking for the cheapest solution, and that’s not a person — that’s a robot.”

The impact of AI on the job market is not a distant future scenario but a reality already unfolding, as highlighted by the WaPo report. The case of Olivia Lipkin and Eric Fein is a stark reminder of the potential consequences of the AI revolution. As companies rush to adopt AI solutions for cost-cutting, the human cost is becoming increasingly apparent.

Featured Image Credit: Photo / illustration by “16081684” via Pixabay

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