Elon Musk’s claim that AI will make all human jobs irrelevant should not be taken seriously, according to a survey of tech experts.

During an interview with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for the AI Safety Summit last year, Musk said: 'There will come a point where no job is needed — you can have a job if you wanted to have a job... personal satisfaction, but the AI will be able to do everything.'

But in a poll by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, 72% of tech professionals disagreed with Musk’s view that AI will render work unnecessary. Some 14% agreed (but only 5% ‘strongly’ agreed), with the rest unsure.

In comments, many IT experts said Musk’s statement was ‘hyperbole’ and suggested it was made to create headlines.

Those currently working in computing agreed that AI could replace a range of jobs, but would also create new roles, including oversight of AI decision making – known as ‘human in the loop’.

They also said that a number of jobs, for example hairdressing, were unlikely to be replaced by AI in the near future, despite advances in robotics.

BCS’ AI and Digital in Business Life survey also found AI would have the most immediate impact this year on customer services (for example chatbots replacing human advisers).

This was followed by information technology, then health and social care, then publishing and broadcasting, then education.

Leaders ranked their top business priorities as cyber security (69%), AI (58%) and business process automation (45%).

Only 8% of participants told BCS their organisation has enough resources to achieve their priorities.

For you

Be part of something bigger, join BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

Cyber attacks were most likely to keep IT managers awake at night in 2024 – this result has been consistent over the last 11 years of the survey.

Rashik Parmar MBE, Chief Executive of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said: “AI won’t make work meaningless – it will redefine what we see as meaningful work.

“Tech professionals are far more concerned about how ‘ordinary’ AI is affecting people’s lives today, for example, assessing us for credit and invitations to job interviews, or being used by bad actors to generate fake news and influence elections. The priority right now is to ensure AI works with us, rather than waiting for a Utopia.

“To build trust in this transformational technology, everyone working in a responsible AI role should be a registered professional meeting the highest standards of ethical conduct.”

The BCS poll was carried out with over 800 IT professionals, ranging from IT Directors and Chief Information Officers, to software developers, academics and engineers.

About BCS’ AI and Digital in Business Life survey

The poll was conducted with members of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT; a total of 810 professionals responded to the survey between 1 December 2023 and 12 February 2024.