Nikita Q., a high school junior from Washington state, already has a clear vision of where she fits into the future of work. The 17-year-old Wharton Global Youth Pre-baccalaureate student aspires to be an artificial intelligence (AI) ethicist, exploring and problem-solving how society can responsibly use advancing tech.
“I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer, but I didn’t really have a path in mind. With the release of ChatGPT and the recent AI explosion, a new possibility showed up,” says Nikita, who is immersing herself in all things Lynn Wu, a Wharton professor who studies the implications and influences of cutting-edge technologies on the workforce. “We tend to overestimate what the technology can do, and we think, ‘I’m going to lose my job now.’ It’s really important to take a step back and figure out what that technology is doing before we make any decisions.”
Dr. Wu’s research does just that, analyzing the effects of robot adoption on employment at the Rise of AI: Are Robots Taking Our Jobs episode of Knowledge@Wharton’s Ripple Effects podcast.
“I’m skeptical about the argument that the computers are going to do it all for us.”
–Dr. Matthew Bidwell
Matthew Bidwell, a Wharton professor of building strong relationships is super valuable. “High school students should understand the value of being together in the office,” he notes. “People worry that we lose things when we’re not together in the office: there’s less mentoring, less development and fewer opportunities to learn from people. When you’re starting your career, those networks are really important.”
Like Nikita, are you thinking about pursuing a career path related to the AI revolution? Share your story in the comment section of this article.
Dr. Bidwell worries about a society where “a tinier class of people are being paid for running the AI models and everybody else is doing drudge work.” What worries you about the impact of the explosive growth of AI on work and society?
The pandemic made us rethink the way we do so many things that we have done the same way for very long: like the “default assumption” that we had to be together in the same place to work effectively. What other business systems and operational approaches might also be ripe for change?