IBM CEO says AI will impact white-collar jobs first, but could help workers instead of displacing them

IBM’s chairman and CEO, Arvind Krishna, stated in an exclusive interview with CNBC that white-collar jobs are likely to be among the first to be impacted by artificial intelligence (AI). He explained that generative AI and large language models have the potential to significantly enhance productivity in various enterprise processes, leading to the accomplishment of the same tasks with fewer employees. This, in turn, could affect roles that fall under the category of back-office, white-collar work.

Krishna emphasized the importance of AI in maintaining productivity levels due to demographic changes. He noted that a decline in the working-age population could lead to reduced quality of life unless productivity is improved. In his view, AI represents a crucial solution to this challenge.

IBM has been involved in the AI field for quite some time, having invested in and developed its own AI platform well before the recent surge in interest surrounding AI-powered technologies like large language models. Notably, IBM’s work on the Watson supercomputer from 2004 to 2011 showcased the company’s commitment to AI development. This focus on AI was aligned with IBM’s shift away from computer hardware, especially after the sale of its personal computer division to Lenovo in 2005.

The rise in demand for AI-driven applications, such as chatbots powered by models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, has spurred a wave of companies seeking to create their own large language models and AI-powered tools. As AI technologies continue to advance, their impact on various industries and job roles, including those in the white-collar sector, remains a topic of ongoing discussion and analysis.