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Why GenAI won't be coming for your job

With alarming headlines from the World Economic Forum that 85 billion jobs will be displaced over the next five years and videos appearing to show robots playing advanced table tennis, it is no wonder that many of our students and staff are worried about what future careers will look like.

I think the future looks bright though. In December I was on Good Morning Britain arguing that we should not stop students using GenAI. Yes, assessments need to be updated so that they are more unique, more authentic and allow students to use creativity to demonstrate their learning. Yes, assessments need to place more value on the human elements of making recommendations, sharing opinions and constructing creative persuasive arguments. Yes, GenAI needs to be embraced, with caution, as a tool to assist in tasks. But the power of GenAI and technology can be harnessed to assist intellectual development rather than replacing thinking.

Similarly, jobs can be crafted away from the elements which can be taken over by GenAI. This was the focus of my keynote speech for our 300 Student and Academic Services staff recently. We discussed the importance of knowing your own strengths, what you enjoy and what the world needs. When individuals craft their jobs towards these elements they can reach ikagi, a Japanese theory on finding fulfilling work. When we describe our careers in terms of building relationships, inspiring confidence and being collaborative rather than traditional job titles it becomes clear that the human and vital elements of our work cannot be taken by GenAI.

I recently spent time at Guildhall, Kensington Palace and St James’ Palace at the Accounting 4 Sustainability conference. Here we considered the huge problems our world faces in terms of social justice, climate change and the destruction of our planet. We explored the ways that businesses, and specifically accountants, can hold organisations accountable for the damage to people and the planet.

One discussion, in particular, focused on GenAI and technology. We were hopeful that this technology will provide and summarise the vast amounts of data used to make decisions but cautioned that AI cannot itself be held accountable, only humans can do this. I urged professional accounting bodies to remember their public interest remit and be bold in their vision of a more sustainable future, supported by GenAI, but driven by human passion for change.

GenAI is a tool, a mimic of human behaviour. It provides answers to questions in a format which has been cleverly designed to provide answers for humans, but this does not mean it will replace our jobs. This video is the original table tennis video the robot version was based on. It was only copying human behaviour, albeit in a convincing way.

As users of GenAI, we need to be aware that it copies biases, inaccurate information and needs to be analytically thought about before being shared or acted on. In the robot video there is a sense of unease and scepticism that a robot would express emotion and creativity in the way a player would do – this instinct was correct, which you can see in the video it was adapted from.

The same World Economic Forum report which discussed displaced jobs also highlights that “In 2025, analytical thinking, creativity and flexibility are among the top skills needed.” These are just the skills which students should strive for when they are at university and developing intellectually, the skills which we can craft our jobs towards and the skills which are assisted, but not threatened by GenAI. Perhaps, just maybe this can lead to a four day working week

Blog posts give the views of the author, and are not necessarily those of Alliance Manchester Business School and The University of Manchester.

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