The AtlanticThe Atlantic

Here’s how AI will come for your job

By Charlie Warzel

17 May 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

AI probably won't replace office workers en masse, writes The Atlantic's Charlie Warzel. Instead, it will create an expectation that we work like robots ourselves, making jobs a "soulless grind."

Abandon all hope, ye who merge spreadsheet cells! Last week, at its annual I/O conference, Google spent hours detailing how large language models would help the knowledge workers of the world unload their busywork onto a legion of eager, capable neural networks. The company will soon introduce AI functions into programs such as Gmail, Google Sheets, and Google Slides that will allow users to type simple commands and receive complex outputs: entire email compositions, for example, or auto-generated tables. The future that Google is promising feels familiar—it’s all about heightened convenience and one-click efficiency—and I hate it. Workplace AI feels like the purest distillation of a corrosive ideology that demands frictionless productivity from workers: The easier our labor becomes, the more of it we can do, and the more of it we’ll be expected to do.

This is how AI comes for our jobs, one ChatGPT-generated slide deck and inbox integration at a time. It’s a vision of the true AI apocalypse on the horizon that feels more like a soulless grind. Humanity isn’t to be obliterated by a vengeful artificial sentience, and office workers probably won’t be replaced en masse with machines; instead, we will be expected to produce and behave more like robots ourselves. Less Skynet, more Bain & Company.

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