At least one tech CEO is reassuring employees that they won’t be laid off because of artificial intelligence.
Nithin Kamath, who leads the online brokerage firm Zerodha, valued at $2 billion, shared his thoughts in a series of tweets on Friday. He said his company had just created an internal A.I. policy to give staff clarity given the anxiety over job possible job losses due to the technology.
The company’s stance, he wrote, is that “We will not fire anyone on the team just because we have implemented a new piece of technology that makes an earlier job redundant.”
Other major tech CEOs have not openly discussed firing their own workers, but they have said they would stop hiring for jobs they believe to be replaceable. IBM chief Arvind Krishna recently suggested his company would slow or suspend hiring for back-office jobs due to A.I. “I could easily see 30% of that getting replaced by A.I. and automation over a five-year period,” he said. Bloomberg estimated that would translate to more than 7,000 lost jobs, though IBM later clarified to Fortune that instead of a blanket hiring pause the company would be “very selective” about hiring for jobs that aren’t client- or technology-focused.
Kamath added that while his Bangalore-based company “hadn’t found any AI use cases” back in 2021 despite significant hype, now things were different.
“With recent breakthroughs in AI, we finally think AI will take away jobs and can disrupt society,” he wrote.
In March, Ethan Mollick, a management professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, gave A.I. tools 30 minutes to work on a business project. He said the results were “superhuman.” He added he would have needed a team and “maybe days of work” to do all that the A.I. tools did in 30 minutes.
Kamath worries about the impact this will have on society.
“Many companies will likely let go of employees and blame it on AI,” he wrote. “In the process, companies will earn more and make their shareholders wealthier, worsening wealth inequality. This isn’t a good outcome for humanity.”
“Unquestionably, many of the tasks in white-collar land will look very different in the next five to 10 years,” Mustafa Suleyman, who cofounded the A.I. lab DeepMind, told attendees of the GIC Bridge Forum in San Francisco this week. “There are going to be a serious number of losers [and they] will be very unhappy, very agitated.”
Kamath called upon companies to give employees time to adapt to the new reality.
“It’ll take a few years for us to see the real impact of AI on humanity,” he wrote. “Businesses with financial freedom should, if nothing else, give their teams that helped build the business time to adapt. I know some of this might sound weird coming from the CEO…”