RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – IBM is moving to turn over as many as 7,800 jobs to artificial intelligence, Chair and CEO Arvind Krishna said in an interview Monday. The warnings about AI being used to replace human job holders have been growing especially since the rise of the very popular ChatGPT and other tools.

“I could easily see 30% of that getting replaced by AI and automation over a five-year period,” Krishna told Bloomberg News, referring to “back-office” positions such as in human resources.

Hiring for such jobs will be suspended or slowed, Krishna said.

These are non-customer-facing roles, he noted.

An IBM spokesperson told Bloomberg that the transition would include not replacing jobs that come open through attrition.

IBM employs some 400,000 people worldwide, including thousands at its large campus in RTP, across the state and at Raleigh-based Red Hat.

The wave of attention around ChatGPT late last year helped renew an arms race among tech companies to develop and deploy similar AI tools in their products. OpenAI, Microsoft and Google are at the forefront of this trend, but IBM, Amazon, Baidu and Tencent are working on similar technologies.

In March, some prominent figures in tech signed a letter calling for artificial intelligence labs to stop the training of the most powerful AI systems for at least six months, citing “profound risks to society and humanity.” The letter, published by the Future of Life Institute, a nonprofit backed by Elon Musk, came just two weeks after OpenAI announced GPT-4, an even more powerful version of the technology that powers ChatGPT. In early tests and a company demo, GPT-4 was used to draft lawsuits, pass standardized exams and build a working website from a hand-drawn sketch.

‘Godfather of AI’ quits Google, warns of artificial intelligence dangers

Report: 14 million jobs at risk

A new report warns that huge disruptions will rock the global job market over the next five years as the economy weakens and companies boost adoption of technologies such as artificial intelligence.

That finding comes from the World Economic Forum, which on Sunday published a report based on surveys of more than 800 companies.

WEF — which hosts a gathering of global leaders in Davos, Switzerland, every year — found that employers expect to create 69 million new jobs by 2027 and eliminate 83 million positions. That will result in a net loss of 14 million jobs, equivalent to 2% of current employment.

Many factors will feed labor market churn during that period. The shift to renewable energy systems will be a powerful engine for generating jobs, while slower economic growth and high inflation will drive losses.

The rush to deploy artificial intelligence, meanwhile, will serve as both a positive and a negative force.

Companies will need new workers to help them implement and manage AI tools. Employment of data analysts and scientists, machine learning specialists and cybersecurity experts is forecast to grow 30% on average by 2027, according to WEF.

At the same time, the proliferation of artificial intelligence will put many roles at risk, as robots replace humans in some cases. There could be 26 million fewer record-keeping and administrative jobs by 2027, WEF predicted. Data entry clerks and executive secretaries are expected to see the steepest losses.

Despite the recent sensation surrounding tools like ChatGPT, automation has expanded slowly in the early part of this decade. Organizations polled by WEF estimated that 34% of all business-related tasks are currently performed by machines. That’s just a hair above the figure from 2020.

Expectations for the pace of future adoption have also been revised down. In 2020, employers thought 47% of tasks would be automated by 2025. They now expect that number to reach 42% by 2027.

In the meantime, companies are rethinking what skills their employees need. Firms now value “the ability to efficiently use AI tools” more than computer programming, according to WEF.