IBM will halt hiring in non-customer-facing positions that could be carried out by artificial intelligence, the company’s CEO Arvind Krishna told Bloomberg.
Krishna said the job cuts will primarily affect roles such as human resources. “I could easily see 30% of that getting replaced by AI and automation over a five-year period,” he said. If 30% of the company’s HR department were cut that would mean a loss of roughly 7,800 jobs.
IBM explained that nobody currently in these roles will be fired, but any positions vacated wouldn’t be filled if AI could take on the responsibility. Earlier this year, IBM was reported to have made job cuts that amounted to 1.5% of its entire workforce.
The announcement comes as many experts begin to express reservations about the way the advancement of AI will affect the world. Dr. Geoffrey Hinton, who built the first neural net in 2012 and was the head of AI at Google, quit the company, citing concerns over the technology. Hinton said he was worried about the flood of fake information, videos and photos appearing online and the possibility that AI would upend the job market.
He also said he had quit Google so he could speak freely about the field, and in part regrets the contribution he’s made to the technology. Hinton told the New York Times that until last year he believed Google had been a “proper steward” of AI but that changed when Microsoft began incorporating a chatbot into its search engine, and Google grew concerned over the impact it could have on its search business.
He believes that AI chatbots could be “quite scary” and warned they could become more intelligent than humans and are open to be exploited by “bad actors.”