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Op-Ed: AI job losses show how little employers know about the jobs

You may have just bought a cow that basically does nothing, and does it badly.

The US economy added 150,000 jobs in October, less than analysts expected, while the unemployment rate ticked up, said the Labor Department

The “AI or else” craze is real enough. Many jobs are getting lost in a haze of more baseline roles, but also in far more complex roles. Online jobs on sites like Fiverr and Upwork are getting “edited out of existence” in the name of saving money. Customer service roles are also getting hit with chatbots rather than people.

This ABC Australia article maps out how it happens in a litany of basic assumptions by employers. Being replaced by “chatbots, data scraping, and email” is the bottom line.

Note the level of techno-ignorance in this grouping. AI is simply a way of doing the same things you were already doing.

Chatbots are hardly new. Nor are data scraping and email. Most of those roles are pretty ineffective. Do that in any form of customer service, and you’re guaranteed to have angry customers.

It also means you have to rely heavily on the quality of AI services.

The quality of those services is no mystery to anyone.

It’s pretty lousy, most of the time.

Yes, I do need to speak to someone.

It’s not out of warranty.

I have millions of dollars placed with your company, and I’m talking to a bot?  

No, I don’t want a recital of company policy with no results.

Remember that this is all about routine business. Not the trickier work. Not the work where the quality of interaction with a client is so important.

Very interesting to me are the purges at Fiverr and Upwork. I worked at Upwork when it was Elance. It was a very picky, often ultra-bitchy, environment.

Now, hilariously to me, one of the AI maxims on these slavedriver sites is “We don’t need writers”.

Wanna bet?

Check out the market backlash at AI advertising. It’s savage. It’s also fully justified. AI is generating garbage, and some of it is at pay-per-click rates.

Excuse a brief seminar:

This is the epitome of an environment where self-important tinpot middle managers think they’re ad copy experts. They usually know nothing or less about the work, the clientele, or the products and services they’re selling.

If you’re wondering why so many ads are so uninteresting and all look similar, it’s no mystery. AI can churn out ad copy by the gigabyte.

What it can’t do is sell.

I’ve done more ad copy than most people in the form of literal millions of words worldwide. It can be very tedious work.

What it can’t afford to be is uninteresting to readers.

B2B ad writing and article writing are the classics. These are direct pitches to markets. You’re selling to your sector. If anyone reads this stuff at all, they have to be shown information of interest. There’s a whole spectrum of nuances, sales points, and values to be delivered to the audience.

This is your business we’re talking about. Follow the logic:  

You’re saving money on your staff and losing money on your sales? How does that work?

All the information which AI provides needs to be checked for compliance, content values, inclusion of sales points, and “sales logic” to show why the client should buy. Does it or doesn’t it?

Quality control of this content is much harder. It looks like everything else? Nobody will read it, let alone buy on that basis. It’s exactly the same as an AI-generated content from your competition? It’ll get lost in the crowd and won’t generate sales.

Effective advertising is different to everyone else. “Things go better with…”, “I feel like…” etc. This sort of content resonates. It has identity. You can’t deepfake market responses, either.

AI can write, but it can’t generate originality, by definition. That requires people with initiative and pretty strong sales incentives. If you ask AI to generate something new and different, all you can expect is derivative content it’s learned from existing content.

AI can’t innovate. It can’t be different. You’ll also note that constant oversight of content and monitoring of market reach is required.

You may have just bought a cow that basically does nothing, and does it badly.


The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

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Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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