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Will AI Replace Me?

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness


When I first heard the word "internet," probably in the late 1980s or early 1990s, I thought it would have implications in the business world. I also recall hearing "email" and thinking, "I'll never need that. I'm a psychologist; I speak with people."


Similarly, today, we're hearing about artificial intelligence (AI). However, unlike the gradual integration of the internet and email into our lives, AI technology is advancing rapidly. It's no longer a matter of whether AI will impact our lives but rather "how it will continue to shape our future."


AI has the potential to transform industries through automation, leading to enhanced efficiency and accuracy. However, this has sparked concern regarding the future of employment and the role people will play in a workforce increasingly dominated by AI.


However, recent studies suggest that integrating AI into various fields may be more gradual than previously thought (Gordon, 2024). Furthermore, research indicates that greater exposure to AI was associated with higher employment in occupations where computer use is high, indicating that people with strong technical and digital skills may be better equipped to adapt to and benefit from these technologies (OECD, 2021).


The National Center is committed to fostering emotional well-being across disciplines with practical information, presentations, and support. Implementing AI-Integrated Emotional Wellness (AIEW) , the Center sees virtually unlimited potential for AI to "play in the same sandbox as emotional wellness"—focusing on the relationship between the cognitive abilities of computers and human emotion.


While AI will never replace traditional face-to-face communication, it offers enormous potential to improve the quality of our lives. Notwithstanding, anxiety surrounding the potential for job loss has become a real concern. Research has shown that the fear of being replaced by AI technology causes stress and anxiety (Lee & Sung, 2018; Raghunathan et al., 2020). Furthermore, the uncertainty surrounding the impact of AI on employment is creating a sense of insecurity for countless people (Brynjolfsson & McAfee, 2017).


While there are real concerns about the potential job losses created by AI, it's important to remain optimistic about AI’s positive role. AI boosts productivity, accuracy, and convenience across diverse industries, including healthcare, where it improves diagnostic accuracy, leading to better treatment outcomes (Sahiner et al., 2020). In traffic management, AI enhances road safety (Yuan et al., 2020), while in education, it tailors learning to individual student needs, optimizing results (Lynch, 2018). AI stimulates creativity in the arts and music (Gdelooze et al., 2020) and addresses climate change by advancing energy efficiency and aiding disaster response (Zhang et al., 2021). Finally, AI robots perform impressive duties in criminal justice, shielding first responders from risks (Hodnoc, 2020).


While many people will ask, "Will AI replace me?" spotlighting their fears, others will focus on the transformative potential of AI to create significant positive changes in their lives. The ability to focus positively and adapt to AI in goal-directed problem-solving ways reflects emotional wellness.


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