Arvind Krishna to take over as IBM CEO in April 2020


  • Artificial intelligence could wipe out many clerical white-collar jobs in the next five years, IBM's CEO says
  • Arvind Krishna said IBM will likely slow down or altogether suspend hiring for roles A.I. can perform
  • Experts have been sounding the alarm about the potential risks of A.I.

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (A.I.) could threaten the labor workforce as some roles will inevitably be declared redundant, a tech CEO said Tuesday.

Amid the interest sparked by OpenAI's generative A.I.-backed chatbot ChatGPT, Arvind Krishna, CEO of IBM, said in a Fox Business exclusive interview on "The Claman Countdown" that he predicts "many" clerical white-collar jobs will be taken over by A.I. in the coming years.

"I do believe, and I've said this before, that A.I. is going to replace many clerical white-collar jobs and that's the kind which I expect A.I. will replace over the next five years," Krishna said.

Krishna and SAP SE CEO Christian Klein, who joined him on the program, announced a deal between their companies that will see IBM's cognitive learning machine Watson, which became famous after winning "Jeopardy," embedded into SAP's business solutions.

The two talked about how cost-efficient and business-friendly the deal between their two companies was, but questions on jobs inevitably surfaced during their discussion.

"A.I. can take over a lot of these [business] activities. So it's about cost avoidance," said Klein. "And then the second part is as long as you have a growing business and you are transforming your business, you need different skills. So this also allows you to re-skill your workforce, not to just cut your workforce, which is, I guess, also equally important."

Krishna said in a recent interview with Bloomberg that IBM will likely slow down or altogether suspend hiring for "back-office functions" the company believes could be performed by A.I. within the next five years.

The CEO said he believes around 30% of about 26,000 non-customer-facing roles, such as human resources jobs, can be taken over by automation. This would mean around 7,800 jobs lost.

"I did say we have about 26,000 of those roles," Krishna told Fox Business host Liz Claman. "We do want our company to grow. So as we grow, you would expect those to increase, so a big part of the decrease will be a lack of increase. Also, we have, as many people do, close to 10% attrition in the workforce."

An IBM spokesperson told Fox Business that there was no blanket hiring pause in place but that the firm was being "very selective when filling jobs that don't directly touch our clients or technology."

However, the rep said the company is still actively hiring for thousands of roles.

Although A.I. could significantly cut jobs, Krishna said that there is still a need for human employment, especially for more complex work.

A significant number of experts have been sounding the alarm on the dangers of A.I., which many industry insiders fear will not only become a tool for misinformation but also pose a risk to humanity.

Dr. Geoffrey Hinton, an A.I. pioneer, recently quit his job at Google so he can "freely speak about the risks of A.I."

"It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things," Hinton told the New York Times.

Illustration shows Artificial Intelligence words