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AI Is Starting to Threaten White-Collar Jobs

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businessmen walk the plank above an AI cliff, illustration

The cascading effect of AI adoption could flatten layers of middle management.

Artificial intelligence is coming for higher-ups in the corporate office. While the total number of jobs directly lost to generative AI remains low, some companies and others have linked white-collar layoffs to new productivity-boosting technologies such as machine learning and other AI applications.

Generative AI could soon upend a much bigger share of white-collar jobs, including middle and high-level managers, according to company consultants and executives. Unlike previous waves of automation technology, generative AI doesn't just speed up tasks or recognize data patterns. It has the power to create content and synthesize ideas — in essence, the kind of knowledge work millions of people now do behind computers.

That includes managerial roles, many of which might never come back, the corporate executives and consultants say. They predict the fast-evolving technology will revamp or replace work now done up and down the corporate ladder in industries ranging from technology to chemicals.

"This wave [of technology] is a potential replacement or an enhancement for lots of critical-thinking, white-collar jobs," says Andy Challenger, senior vice president of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

From The Wall Street Journal
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