The Jobs Most Exposed to ChatGPT
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The Jobs Most Exposed to ChatGPT

New study finds that AI tools could more quickly handle at least half of the tasks that auditors, interpreters and writers do now

By LAUREN WEBER
Wed, Mar 29, 2023 8:48amGrey Clock 3 min

Accountants are among the professionals whose careers are most exposed to the capabilities of generative artificial intelligence, according to a new study. The researchers found that at least half of accounting tasks could be completed much faster with the technology.

The same was true for mathematicians, interpreters, writers and nearly 20% of the U.S. workforce, according to the study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and OpenAI, the company that makes the popular AI tool ChatGPT.

The tool has provoked excitement and anxiety in companies, schools, governments and the general public for its ability to process massive amounts of information and generate sophisticated—though not necessarily accurate or unbiased—content in response to prompts from users.

The researchers, who published their working paper online this month, examined occupations’ exposure to the new technology, which is powered by software called large language models that can analyse and generate text. They analysed the share of a job’s tasks where GPTs—generative pre-trained transformers—and software that incorporates them can reduce the time it takes to complete a task by at least 50%. Research has found that state-of-the-art GPTs excel in tasks such as translation, classification, creative writing and generating computer code.

They found that most jobs will be changed in some form by GPTs, with 80% of workers in occupations where at least one job task can be performed more quickly by generative AI. Information-processing roles—including public relations specialists, court reporters and blockchain engineers—are highly exposed, they found. The jobs that will be least affected by the technology include short-order cooks, motorcycle mechanics and oil-and-gas roustabouts.

To reach their conclusions, the authors used a government database of occupations and their associated activities and tasks, and had both people and artificial intelligence models assign exposure levels to the activities and tasks.

The researchers didn’t predict whether jobs will be lost or whose jobs will be lost, said Matt Beane, an assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who studies the impact of technology on the labor market and wasn’t involved in the study.

“Exposure predicts nothing in terms of what will change and how fast it will change,” he said. “Human beings reject change that compromises their interests” and the process of implementing new technologies is often fraught with negotiation, resistance, “terror and hope,” he said.

The real challenge, Mr. Beane said, is for companies, schools and policy makers to help people adapt. “That’s a multi-trillion dollar problem,” he said, and can include, among other things, training workers to collaborate effectively with the technology and redesigning jobs to enhance the autonomy, wages and career prospects of many roles.

Individuals have already begun using generative AI to work more quickly, though many employers worry about security and accuracy.

Michael Quash, a 32-year-old Richmond, Va.-based broadcast engineer, said he has found greater efficiency when he uses ChatGPT for monotonous tasks or to work through complex coding problems. “ChatGPT can be a force multiplier,” he said.

His employer, Audacy Inc., said it is letting employees experiment with the tool. “Like many media companies, we believe that there is value in ChatGPT for certain processes,” said Sarah Foss, Audacy’s chief technology officer.

Other recent studies have also found that generative AI can save significant time and produce better results than humans can. In a Massachusetts Institute of Technology experiment focused on college-educated professionals, researchers divided 444 grant writers, marketers, consultants, human-resources professionals and other workers in half. Both groups were asked to complete short written tasks, and one group could use ChatGPT to do so.

Those with access to ChatGPT finished their tasks 10 minutes faster. And outside readers who assessed the quality of these assignments said the AI-assisted workers did better than the other group, according to the study, which was released in March and hasn’t been peer-reviewed.

Another paper published last week by researchers at Microsoft Corp., which is investing billions into OpenAI, analysed the capabilities of GPT-4, the latest version of OpenAI’s tool, and found that it could solve “novel and difficult tasks” with “human-level performance” in fields such as mathematics, coding, medicine, law and psychology.

Amanda Richardson, chief executive of the technical interview platform CoderPad, said she’s used ChatGPT to write slides when she presents about her field. The tool creates a basic outline, and from there she tracks down specific details to make a more compelling presentation, she said.

CoderPad’s customers are businesses looking to hire. They ask job candidates to demonstrate their technical skills using CoderPad, and Ms. Richardson has recommended that customers explicitly make ChatGPT part of their interview process: Ask applicants to use ChatGPT to solve a problem, and then have them critique the answer it spits out. Does the code have any security vulnerabilities? Is it scalable? What’s good or bad?

“It leans into embracing developer efficiency,” she said.



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Why Prices of the World’s Most Expensive Handbags Keep Rising

Designers are charging more for their most recognisable bags to maintain the appearance of exclusivity as the industry balloons

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The price of a basic Hermès Birkin handbag has jumped $1,000. This first-world problem for fashionistas is a sign that luxury brands are playing harder to get with their most sought-after products.

Hermès recently raised the cost of a basic Birkin 25-centimeter handbag in its U.S. stores by 10% to $11,400 before sales tax, according to data from luxury handbag forum PurseBop. Rarer Birkins made with exotic skins such as crocodile have jumped more than 20%. The Paris brand says it only increases prices to offset higher manufacturing costs, but this year’s increase is its largest in at least a decade.

The brand may feel under pressure to defend its reputation as the maker of the world’s most expensive handbags. The “Birkin premium”—the price difference between the Hermès bag and its closest competitor , the Chanel Classic Flap in medium—shrank from 70% in 2019 to 2% last year, according to PurseBop founder Monika Arora. Privately owned Chanel has jacked up the price of its most popular handbag by 75% since before the pandemic.

Eye-watering price increases on luxury brands’ benchmark products are a wider trend. Prada ’s Galleria bag will set shoppers back a cool $4,600—85% more than in 2019, according to the Wayback Machine internet archive. Christian Dior ’s Lady Dior bag and the Louis Vuitton Neverfull are both 45% more expensive, PurseBop data show.

With the U.S. consumer-price index up a fifth since 2019, luxury brands do need to offset higher wage and materials costs. But the inflation-beating increases are also a way to manage the challenge presented by their own success: how to maintain an aura of exclusivity at the same time as strong sales.

Luxury brands have grown enormously in recent years, helped by the Covid-19 lockdowns, when consumers had fewer outlets for spending. LVMH ’s fashion and leather goods division alone has almost doubled in size since 2019, with €42.2 billion in sales last year, equivalent to $45.8 billion at current exchange rates. Gucci, Chanel and Hermès all make more than $10 billion in sales a year. One way to avoid overexposure is to sell fewer items at much higher prices.

Many aspirational shoppers can no longer afford the handbags, but luxury brands can’t risk alienating them altogether. This may explain why labels such as Hermès and Prada have launched makeup lines and Gucci’s owner Kering is pushing deeper into eyewear. These cheaper categories can be a kind of consolation prize. They can also be sold in the tens of millions without saturating the market.

“Cosmetics are invisible—unless you catch someone applying lipstick and see the logo, you can’t tell the brand,” says Luca Solca, luxury analyst at Bernstein.

Most of the luxury industry’s growth in 2024 will come from price increases. Sales are expected to rise by 7% this year, according to Bernstein estimates, even as brands only sell 1% to 2% more stuff.

Limiting volume growth this way only works if a brand is so popular that shoppers won’t balk at climbing prices and defect to another label. Some companies may have pushed prices beyond what consumers think they are worth. Sales of Prada’s handbags rose a meagre 1% in its last quarter and the group’s cheaper sister label Miu Miu is growing faster.

Ramping up prices can invite unflattering comparisons. At more than $2,000, Burberry ’s small Lola bag is around 40% more expensive today than it was a few years ago. Luxury shoppers may decide that tried and tested styles such as Louis Vuitton’s Neverfull bag, which is now a little cheaper than the Burberry bag, are a better buy—especially as Louis Vuitton bags hold their value better in the resale market.

Aggressive price increases can also drive shoppers to secondhand websites. If a barely used Prada Galleria bag in excellent condition can be picked up for $1,500 on luxury resale website The Real Real, it is less appealing to pay three times that amount for the bag brand new.

The strategy won’t help everyone, but for the best luxury brands, stretching the price spectrum can keep the risks of growth in check.

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